Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. – Psalm 51:1-12
When I began my float through the Psalms I expected to find many hidden springs. I have come upon a few to be sure but not as many as I expected to find. This Psalm contains the kernel of the Good News that Jesus came to share – “Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin”. Jesus did this physically through the baptism he shared at the Jordan River. He asked only that we confess our sins and our love for God and agree to turn from our previous path and begin to swim upstream against our “natural” tendencies.
Then comes the really deep water…”Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight”. All the sins for which we need to be washed clean are ultimately against God, not the people we commit those sins against. God is our judge not because he is some sort of cosmic cop, but because He is the party we have harmed.
If a murderer commits murder the offense is not against the one who loses their life — it is against God. We are apparently born with this idea that we should know that there is a way that is God’s way, and a way that is our own. We get to choose and apparently this choice gets more difficult as we get older. It is almost as if when we are born our spirit is new to this world, fresh from wisdom lessons with God in a “secret place”.
God has the ability to wash us clean — to take our spirit back to the place where it started on this earth – “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me”. I think that is what we lose as we get older…a steadfast spirit. A spirit that is unwilling to settle for estrangement from God. A spirit that pursues God like a thirsty deer pursues water. A spirit restless not for things of this world, but for a secret place where God is waiting to teach us wisdom – the kingdom of heaven.
Prayer: God help us to have a spirit that is restless for You