Daily Devotion - Friday, March 4, 2016
3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.
- Psalm 32:3-5
When I was fifteen years old, I started to wonder if there was a God. Over the next eight years, I basically became an agnostic. Practically speaking, my agnosticism led me to believe that if there was a God, it didn't really matter all that much to anybody. I decided that I was going to live my life as I pleased, without all of the constraints of my Christian upbringing.
The day came, however, when the consequences of living my life on my terms were too much for me to bear. I could no longer deny God's presence in the world and in my life. His hand had been upon me the entire time I had been wandering in my own personal wilderness, and for that I was unbelievably grateful. But I also had to come to terms with my indifference to the presence of God, which resulted in a surprising amount of guilt.
I remember some very long nights, struggling with my guilt over my poor decisions, mistakes and lack of faith. I also felt crushed under the weight of the feelings of inadequacy that came with that guilt. When I finally turned all of it over to God, when I confessed all of that guilt, and let go of my feelings of inadequacy, I discovered newfound joy and the kind of freedom I'd never known when I was trying to live my life without God.
One of the things that I've come to understand about God is that God doesn't punish us for our sins, our mistakes and willful ignorance of God. Instead, God allows us to experience the consequences of our sins, mistakes and willful ignorance. But thankfully, God also offers unbelievable grace, mercy and restoration so that we don't have to wallow in those consequences, and allow them to define us.
In Psalm 32, the psalmist describes what it is like to feel the pain of guilt, and the consequences of his sin. Interestingly, he describes feeling as though God's hand was heavy upon him, not letting him go, crushing him not with guilt, but with grace. The ancient Hebrew people often describes God's glory as a "heaviness" or "thickness." When the psalmist turns at last to God in confession, he is released from his guilt as he embraces the heaviness of God's glory and grace and is set free.
May you come to know more fully the great and heavy grace of God. May you be set free from the mistakes of your past and realize that they do not define you, you are not chained to your guilt. And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.