Lent Reflections – Repentance & Restoring Joy
My siblings and I have been helping our parents spring-clean their house. They’re both in their eighties and it never ceases to amaze me how much stuff one can collect over a long life. The house becomes very “full”, especially when you’re not inclined to throw things out, as is the case with my parents.
They have a lot of stuff and I mean a lot.
We’re hopeful they will be able to secure a move to a smaller place in their next two months, in fact we may know as soon as early next week regarding one place mum has her heart set on.
This won’t really be a spring clean, rather a major overhaul with lots and lots of stuff discarded, given to charities and grateful others. Already, a number of trips have been made to the tip as well as one large council pickup.
Spring-cleaning and major clean-ups require us to get our hands dirty. We have to get into the mess that has accumulated over the years. I’ve spent a lot of time in this season of Lent reflecting on repentance. As this season involves a spiritual clean up or a re-tuning, I’ve found I’ve had to go into my mess. The one that’s in my heart.
I’m surprisingly okay with sifting through the “yuck”. Certainly I wouldn’t suggest I’m enjoying it. It’s a process, not a one-time activity. Well, not in my case anyway. Long ingrained thought patterns can take a while to change.
Best of all, I’m in the muck with someone. And there’s no one else I want to be there with.
I was reminded this week of David’s journey through some of his muck. The Psalms are like an autobiography of David’s heart journey. We see his highs, his very low lows and everything in between. Having read them all recently as part of my “(Am I Crazy?) Read the entire Bible in six weeks challenge” David describes the various states of his heart that we all can relate to. Martin Luther was a big believer in praying the Psalms for this reason.
“When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah.
I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I did not hide; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord”; And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah.
Therefore, let everyone who is godly pray to You in a time when You may be found; Surely in a flood of great waters they will not reach him.
You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Selah” (Ps 32: 3-7 NASB)
David suffered immensely as a result of keeping his sin from God. Once he’d asked for forgiveness, he was surrounded with “songs of deliverance”. He was able to experience peace.
Psalm 51, though, is his classic prayer of contrition, the scales having fallen from his eyes as a result of Nathan’s intervention. I expect many of us are very familiar with this psalm having heard it and perhaps spoken it many times in our lives.
“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation And sustain me with a willing spirit.” (Ps 51: 10-12 NASB)
I typically meditate on verse 10 above, however, this week verse 12 took on new meaning:
“Restore to me the joy of Your salvation”
Yes, I want more joy. Yes, I want my joy to be restored.
“God’s goal in repentance isn’t to beat you to death but to bring you to life.” (Steven Furtick)
Killing off sin opens the door to JOY!
It’s surprising how many wonderful items we’ve discovered with mum. It’s like panning for gold. We have to sift through the sand to discover the little nuggets of goodness and value.
Wishing you a wonderful weekend.