May 3, 2010

Hiding From, or Hiding In?

Blessed is he whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. 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. Therefore let everyone who is godly pray to you while you may be found; surely when the mighty waters rise, they will not reach him. You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32: 1-7)

Ok, so I took this portion of the Psalm out of the poem format (and removed the "selah"s) for a very specific purpose: I wanted the words to be read as statements. Sometimes I think it's easy to see the song in a psalm, and miss the message. I mean, if you're familiar with one of the big songs written from the last line, you've already gotten it running through your head. But what the heck does that line mean, anyway? You are my hiding place???

I want to connect this verse to the passage I studied a week ago: 1 John 1: 5-9. I did a lot of talking about the Light of God and how it sees everything. So how, then, can God be a hiding place? Well let's do this... let's start at the beginning of today's verse...

First realize that he (or she) whose sins are forgiven is blessed. Really truly honestly blessed. That right there should be enough to make us want to confess our sins, right? Because remember, Forgiveness + Repentance = Forgiveness. We should never take forgiveness for granted.

Plus, what happens to us while we "keep silent," while we avoid confessing our sins? Because that's really what we're doing. It's not like God doesn't know about them until we tell Him. Light of God, remember?  So in not confessing, we're actually actively keeping silent. And while we're keeping silent on our sins, our bodies will waste away with our groaning.


Yes, really.

Think about it, if you sin, you've probably put yourself into a negative or unhealthy lifestyle of some sort. And that will wear on the body. Stress and worry wear on the body. In fact doctors have noticed stress as one of the leading causes for a number of physical problems because it weakens the body's defenses.

And I love that bit about the groaning. Because really, don't we complain allllllll the time? I know I do. So instead of whining and complaining and stressing out about all of my problems, what I should be doing is... confessing my sin. Even when I feel that I am the victim in any certain situation. Because chances are that I've been thinking uncharitable thoughts towards that other person, and not loving them the way I'm supposed to. And love is the greatest commandment, isn't it?

So we must confess and repent, so that we may receive forgiveness. This is a constant thing, like doing the dishes. It's really easy to put one bowl and one cup in the sink. But when, the next day, you put another bowl and cup, and perhaps a plate and a crusty pot in that sink, and then the next day you build on that again, well, it's gonna take a whole lot more effort to clean that first bowl, isn't it?

But the payoff of regular confession (we sin regularly, so we should confess regularly) is that we will not only have a balm for the hurt and pain that our sins brought on us, but--and I'm going back to the beginning here--we will have a hiding place in God.

When the world gets us down, and persecutes us or embarasses us for being believers in Jesus Christ, we can take refuge in God. We do not use Him as a permanent hiding place to completely escape the world, that's not His plan. But when we feel that we are being attacked, there is no better place to hide than under His wing. For our God will protect us, and shelter us, and keep us from harm. But if we ignore that we sin and try to hide it, we will not be in a place where we would even feel that we could ask God to shelter us.

So confess your sins. The guilt you've been harboring is too much to bear, and it will show. God knows what you've done anyway.

I think sometimes the hardest part isn't admitting you've sinned but telling God that you'll never do it again. Well, we can't be perfect, but with God's help we can overcome all obstacles. Really, we can. And instead of hiding from His grace, we can be protected by it.

That's the place I'd like to be right now.

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