I have already mentioned my love of the Psalms. Whenever I pick up a new translation of the Bible, I turn to the Psalms to see how they sound. I am currently enjoying them in The Passion Translation and, in fact, read Psalm 32 after saving a draft of this post and, since King David was saying exactly the same thing I’m attempting to say here, have decided to move forward.
In my previous post I also mentioned how I find the wisdom to handle life’s problems in the Psalms. While I have no wish to discount in any way those Psalms not written by King David, his Psalms are the ones I find most instructional. This is because so much of David’s life is revealed in the books of the Old Testament. Though David did make many terrible mistakes, he knew who he was in covenant relationship with God and his Psalms teach me how to live as a Covenant Woman.
I recently had an opportunity to be deeply grateful to David and his Psalms. I transgressed, grieved the Holy Spirit, and would have despaired if I had not remembered King David. I’ll get to that transgression in a moment: I must first relate another transgression from years ago.
In this instance, I had been told certain things, believed them, and acted on that belief only to discover what I had been told was not the truth. Accusations fell upon me and my transgression would have been terrible indeed if I had acted with the motivation I was being accused of. I could have defended myself but to do so would have meant relating exactly what I had been told which would have caused much more pain than my actions had done. Instead, I sat silent and bore the invective poured down on me though it resulted in a burning resentment I carried with me for years afterward.
I must be clear: it was by the Grace of God that I stayed silent. There was nothing in me that wanted to. Two years later when I heard the first real call of God on my life (He was little more than a presence I struggled to understand and serve before this), I was grateful that He had kept me from making the situation worse. I did not have to bear that shame. As I started to move on the path God has set me feet on, He began to touch that resentment and anger I carried and nudge me towards forgiveness. I was willing to have Him work, of course, but didn’t think He had all that much to do in me. I could see how others had made no provision for my grief and there was no understanding for what I might be going through having just been through a car accident that altered my entire life. The way I, my family, and even a close friend had been treated during this time was far worse than any sin I committed and didn’t the balance of the scales of justice really tip in my favor.
God did not agree. There came the day when He decided to deal with this situation and His chastisement was upon me. There was no room for “but God, they-” as He dealt with me. How can I describe how this felt? I have heard many songs sung and teachers speak on “weeping in holy brokenness” like it’s this beautiful, gentle thing. It is beautiful when its over but, if being under the corrective hand of God is like a song at all, it’s the lead singer of a death metal band screaming into the microphone. There was no weeping. It was ugly crying, snot everywhere, shuddering and quivering, and I could only remain kneeling while He worked. King David describes it as “The pain never let up for your hand of conviction was heavy on my heart”. (Psalm 32: 4a)
God was not cruel, just determined, and He held me there until He’d finished making me clean. Then He poured His healing into me, soothed and comforted me. That feeling of being scrubbed clean and then filled with Himself made what I had experienced worth it. That is, until He told me to apologize. Me? Apologize? Yes. The choice was mine but He showed me how obedience led to a deeper experience of Him and disobedience led to stagnation and death. And so, I made the choice that was no choice at all, wrote out my no-excuses apology, stamped and mailed it. I have never felt any anger or resentment about this situation or the people involved since.
This was a deeply painful and humiliating lesson to learn. One would think I would take care not to do anything or disobey in any way that would result in my needing to undergo another session under the mighty hand of my Heavenly Father. But, I told you that situation to tell you this one. Only a few months ago I was in a situation where I wanted to defend myself against something I hadn’t done and take credit for something I had. I heard a resounding, echoing, “No! Remain Silent!” inside my spirit. Even so, I decided the opinion of the humans in front of me was more important than obedience to my God and I spoke the words He’d told me not to speak. It was a deliberate transgression and I felt an instant wrenching of the closeness between Him and me. Not that I had no sense of His presence because He didn’t leave me, just that I knew we did not have the closeness we’d had before I disobeyed.
I sat on the edge of my bed having no idea what to do. I remembered the first instance from years before but the two situations could hardly be compared. Then I had not deliberately transgressed and, even so, it had all happened before He’d really called me to walk with Him. Once I was truly in Christ, being made a new creation with old things passing away, there was no guilt or condemnation for my Before actions. This was After. I had deliberately disobeyed and, since I’d been walking with Him for years, I knew better. And, the Accuser was ready and able to begin speaking to me out of my mind. I could not deny my own thoughts: I knew I was guilty. I wanted to get back into that harmonious existence I’d had before I spoke the words, but how? I was sorry. God knew I was sorry. What could I do? The answer was nothing. There wasn’t anything I could do that would undo what I’d done: no specific number of prayers, no positive confessions, no readings, nothing I could do that could restore me to that sense of Oneness. I could pray until my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth and I knew He would accept none of it.
This is when I remembered King David. More specifically, his adultery with Bathsheba and murder of her husband. What a terrible thing and yet, when Nathan the Prophet came to him, David did not run and hide from God. Despite what he’d done and knowing he deserved to die for it, David fell directly on his face before God and later ended up writing Psalm 51. David knew who he was in covenant relationship with God and knew that, ultimately, nothing could separate him from God. I am a partaker in an even greater covenant in Christ Jesus and, if I believe Hebrews 10:12 (and I do), there was nothing I could do to make God forgive me. Jesus had already taken care of it.
That remembrance gave me the peace and strength I needed to once more confess my sin before God and know He was faithful and just to forgive me (1 John 1:9). This scripture is now real to me in a way it never was before. He IS faithful and just to forgive me and cleanse me of my unrighteousness. He is not a sulking God who withholds Himself from me until I prove to Him just how sorry I am but even then keeps reminding me of my sin and how He has low expectations of me moving forward. No! That closeness was instantly restored. Again, Psalm 32 states: You forgave me! All at once the guilt of my sin washed away and all my pain disappeared! (verse 5b)
Does this mean I have a blank check for transgressions, so to speak? Of course not. I can’t put into words how it feels to know I’ve grieved the Holy Spirit except to say it’s awful and I don’t intend to do it ever again. Returning to Psalm 32 I read, “I hear the Lord saying, ‘I will stay close to you instructing you and guiding you along the pathway for your life'” so I can trust He will keep me. And, I move forward in harmony with Him thinking not that I have attained this ideal or have already been made perfect, but I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own that for which Christ Jesus has laid hold of me…(Philippians 3:12, The Amplified Bible)
Wondering who you are in Covenant Relationship with God through Christ Jesus? Here are some resources which have helped me:
The Bible, of course! The Message is a translation in contemporary language