“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to Your loving kindness … ” (Psalm 51:1).
Ash Wednesday, yesterday, was the official beginning of the season of Lent. While not all churches observe this season of the church year, those of us that do see it as an opportunity to work on what we are always supposed to be doing — but which we very conveniently side-step most of our lives — and that is to plumb the depths of our sin.
We do this not to wallow in our sin, but to grieve the pain we have caused our Creator and others and to regain a humble servant’s heart as we look ahead to the future.
In Psalm 51, David cried out to God regarding his murderous plot to acquire Bathsheba as his wife and pleaded for mercy because he had committed such a selfish and terrible act.
David sets the example here for the repentant sinner who wants to deal honestly with his sin rather than to blame someone or something else. Notice, David doesn’t lash out at others trying to correct what he perceives as something wrong in the world which has caused him to take such violent action, but rather turns his focus to his own failure to be the man of God he wanted to be. David is willing to go beyond dealing with the symptoms of his sin to get to the core of the matter, which is his darkened heart.
Oh, that we would be willing to undergo spiritual surgery to return to God rather than try and deal with the symptoms only.
Let’s face it, often we go to church to have forgiveness of sins pronounced over us, and we turn right around and continue to do the same things which we know are an affront to God, forgetting the tremendous price that the Lord had to pay as a result of our actions.
As we prepare to come to Easter Sunday to celebrate the resurrection, may we first realize what woeful and sinful creatures we are and, in so doing, be granted a clean and humble heart that is ready not to gloss over our own sin, not to blame others and so justify our actions, but which cries out to God for mercy and which is ready to extend God’s mercy to others and to the world.