By Jennie Mayes
Often, we want God to perform a “gut job” on us. We want to discard all that is ugly and messy of our lives. We want to be perfectly clean and shiny again.
Just like a contractor could come in and tear down an old home and build a brand new one in it’s place, so do we sometimes desire to start over. But … part of the beauty in an old home (and in us) are the scars and damage that time and experiences have brought: the dent in the hardwood floors where the piano was dropped, the traffic patterns in the carpet where a parent rocked a crying child night after night, the shattered window where the baseball was thrown, the peeling paint that reveals the pencil-marked heights of our children at different ages. These are defects, but they also tell a story of love and healing.
Our story may include worry lines because of poor decisions we’ve made or guilt we hold on to over a hurt we caused another. It may be regret at time wasted. We mess up, sometimes REALLY BIG with huge consequences to ourselves, our families, friends, and community. We wish we could go back to a time before we messed up or erase the trials of the past. But doing that would mean losing the beauty in the painful and embarrassing parts of our story.
The older I get, the more I learn, and the more I realize that through our dumbest moves and decisions, God can and does redeem us.
In Psalm 51:1-12, David is responding to his sin with Bathsheba. Nathan has confronted him about his adultery, he realizes the depths to which he was willing to go (having her husband killed in battle) and David is crying out to God. God does not abandon David because of his sin, but instead calls David a man after his own heart.
The Seventh Century Roman Catholics named this Psalm one of the “Seven Penitential” Psalms, because they help remind us of the depth of our shortcomings (sin) and the need to cry out to God in our repentance and our restoration. The words of the Psalms are beautiful and can be so comforting to us as we acknowledge the ways we’ve allowed our own selfishness, shame, regret, and people-pleasing to get in the way of our relationship with God.
God alone can peel back the layers of our lives and restore us without having to knock us over and start over. Redemption is ours.