If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you. – Psalm 130:3-4 (NIV)
I need God’s help in all sorts of ways. But keeping a record of my sins? I’ve got that pretty well covered on my own, thanks. Sometimes when I’m having a hard time falling asleep my mind will cast back over my life and plow up old shames. Foolish words that’s I would trade much to take back. Swaths of my life when I walked too far down paths that I should never have set foot upon. If I dwell on this sort of thinking too long, I can convince myself I’m just the pits.
Thank God for the witness of the Psalms! I can see that I’m not alone in late night self-demolition. The Psalms show that I’m not worse than everyone else (well, not worse than the Psalmist anyway).
In this little couplet of poetry from the Psalms, we see encapsulated an entire theology of forgiveness. If God does not keep a record of sins, maybe I can let go of some of my more ancient foibles. This is more than mere forgetting. The forgiveness of God allows me to wholeheartedly take up a life of service, of seeking to live a holy life. Forgiveness of sins means I am able to set my feet on the path to a holy life, though my steps be heavy and slow.
That is why God’s forgiveness is without end. Because God is calling each of us to serve Her. And if we follow, oh, friends. What a life is before us.
Forgiveness of sins means I am able to set my feet on the path to a holy life, though my steps be heavy and slow.
John Edgerton is Lead Pastor at First United Church of Oak Park, Illinois.