Psalm 3:1-3 Lord, how they are increased who trouble me; many are those who rise against me. Many there are who say of my soul, “There is no help for him in his God.” But you, O Lord, are my defender; you are my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
Since we are in Lent, I will make a confession. I often am my own chief critic, the one who says, “What’s the use? I’m stuck. This will never change. Because of what my past did to me, I’m a hopeless case.” When I’m in that mode, I don’t usually connect the dots to what I’m actually saying, that even God, Father, Son, and Spirit, can’t transform me into the person he wants me to be. Yikes!!
As part of my confession, I will say that this is a major area I’ve been working on with my spiritual director.
But you, O Lord, are my defender—defending me even against myself, against old “tapes” and habits of viewing myself and the world that don’t express faith and instead play into what the Enemy, the accuser, is trying to get me to believe. About myself. But more importantly, about God: his power, his mercy, and the worth of what Jesus did when he sacrificed himself for me, for you, for the world he loves so much.
During these weeks of Lent, I want to share with you some of the Scriptures and prayers that God is bringing to my attention as I open myself to him. In this one, notice the verb tenses:
1 Cor 6:9-11 Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? [There follows a long list of what doing wrong can include.] Some of you WERE once like that. But you WERE cleansed; you WERE made holy; you WERE made right with God by calling on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. This is one of the Trinity passages—it’s so important that Father, Son, and Spirit all get into the act.
And I’m convicted by God’s voice saying, “Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean” (Acts 10:15).
So there’s the past, and there’s the present. First John 1:8-9 confirms what we all know, yes, we do still sin. But there’s a way forward to return to our “new normal”: cleansed, holy, right with God. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.
When God forgives us, he’s not keeping a list to hold over our heads or to beat us into the ground the next time we fail. He’s all about picking us up, dusting us off, and setting us back on our feet. He has absolutely NOTHING vested in keeping us groveling. He wants us to live in freedom, joy, and thankfulness. He’s our chief advocate, our cheerleader; our mama bear defending us cubs against attacks from the enemy who does want to destroy us and knows exactly where we’re vulnerable.