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. . . . 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. (Psalm 32:3-5)
I still remember how I yearned to join the congregational worship that swelled around me. But my heart couldn’t so much as whisper His praise. I was in the fourth day of my struggle with the Holy Spirit. He’d exposed one of my sins, and like Jonah, I’d been running from Him ever since. So as everyone in the pews around me focused on Christ, I slumped into my seat and gave up the battle. I knew from experience I could only enjoy true worship after true repentance.
When you read the story of David’s sin with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11-12 you might not notice an important element nearly buried in the narrative. David did not confess his sin to God for nearly a year! I don’t know how he did it. Day after day, week after week, he went through the motions of being religious. I’m sure he joined the choir each Sabbath in the Temple as they sang their liturgy. He listened to the priest’s exposition of the Scripture and joined his voice with the congregational prayers. To the casual observer, David appeared to be the godly man the people expected him to be.
But God wasn’t fooled. And it wasn’t until Bathsheba gave birth – nine months after David’s sin with another man’s wife – that the king went to his knees and wept over his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband. You can read his prayer of repentance in Psalm 51.
Why do so many of us, like David, waste days – sometimes years – running from God and making excuses for our sins? Why is it so hard to say to Him, “I’m sorry”?
My reason is most often pride. It’s easier to find fault in others than in myself. It’s easier to think I’m an “I’m-OK-you’re-Ok” kind of guy. But God is not fooled. Which is why He offers us a better way to live. No, He demands of us a better way to live.
Saint Augustine said it well: Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being. Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility. The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.
I want to be the kind of man God wants me to be. And, if you have read this far, I believe you also want to be the kind of man or woman God wants you to be.
It begins with humility; a humility quick to repent – for mortal sins, of course, but likewise for venial sins – and a cry for Christ’s mercy. Only then can worship and fellowship with the King of kings become as natural and effortless as breathing.
Lord, help us give up the battle early.