Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 51; 148, Judges 14:20-15:20, Acts 7:17-29, John 4:43-54
How long is something brand new? Until it’s driven off the sales lot? Until it’s removed from the packaging? Until the first floorboard begins to squeak? Whatever the criteria, “brand new” never lasts long. The very actions we take to preserve something can accelerate its deterioration: washing a car erodes the finish and recharging a cell phone battery shortens its life. Nothing and no one escapes the wear and tear of existence. Nicks and dents, wrinkles and regrets, from birth onward imperfection relentlessly etches itself onto each of us. The only way to escape life’s hardship is not to live it, but then we are like a toy still in its box gathering dust on a shelf, never fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.
The author of Psalm 51 feels life’s every scrape and smudge. He longs to be washed clean, to be filled with a new and right spirit. He asks the Lord to blot out his transgressions and create a clean heart. Fortunately, God loves a fixer-upper. The psalmist knows “the sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart.” We’ve all been damaged in ways large and small. Our wounds may be self-inflicted, caused by cruelty, or the unintentional result of friendly fire. When the world shames us into hiding them, we cut ourselves off from Grace. To God, our inevitable brokenness is not a barrier, but an invitation.
“Brand new” is momentary, if not illusory. If we long for the imagined perfection of the past, the present will always seem insufficient. But if we are willing to do the hard and humble work of submitting to God, we will create a testament to the firm foundation He has laid in us. We buff out the scratches through prayer, nail another roof beam back into place with each song of praise, and re-open a boarded up window and let in the light with each act of service.
No matter the source of our damage, and no matter how eager others may be to condemn us, God will offer to restore us.
Comfort: God loves you through all your hardships.
Challenge: Save something you plan to throw out, and see if you can re-purpose it.
Prayer: Create in me a clean heart, O God. Amen.
Discussion: What areas of your life are currently under major reconstruction?
For further reading on John 4:43-54, see Out of Thin Air
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