Reading Through The Bible in 2011, Part 36
What I Read Today: Psalms 27-33.
What Stood Out About What I Read Today: Psalm 32: 7-11, “You are my hiding place; you protect me from distress. You surround me with shouts of joy from those celebrating deliverance. (Selah) I will instruct and teach you about how you should live. I will advise you as I look you in the eye. Do not be like an unintelligent horse or mule, which will not obey you unless they are controlled by a bridle and bit. An evil person suffers much pain, but the Lord’s faithfulness overwhelms the one who trusts in him. Rejoice in the Lord and be happy, you who are godly! Shout for joy, all you who are morally upright!”
Random Thoughts About What I Read:
One of the perks of professional student ministry (not like there’s a bunch of them) is that you occasionally get a book or CD or DVD in the mail for your review before it’s available to everyone else…and they’re free! Most of them go straight to the church library which survives on donations (I’ve gotten pretty adept at making the determination on what I’ll spend time sifting through)but, occasionally, I get one that I’m excited to give a read/listen.
I was pretty happy when one of my favorite artists sent me his upcoming CD even if it came during a time when I couldn’t give it a full-listen in one sitting. So, it stayed in my car CD player for a few days and so, and I was grabbing a song or two on my five-mile (that’s round trip, mind you) commute and during various errands. It was taking longer than I’d hoped, but it was really good.
Anyway, this particular artist had a unique idea: After a couple of years playing large venues, he decided to downsize and do concerts in intimate settings. In some cases, the concerts were actually people’s houses! Listening to the CD was a lot like watching the old MTV series “Unplugged” or VH1’s “Storytellers” where the artists would spend some time talking about the meanings of the songs or the circumstances in which they were written.
After about two days, I was just driving along and the artist was talking about a particular song and while he was introducing it he made a side comment that went something like, “The best thing that could happen to us would be for all our sins to be broadcast on the evening news.”
Um. Okay. Whatever.
But that little phrase stayed with me for a bit. It was a brain worm of the highest order for some reason.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right: That would be pretty darn freeing. I mean, one thing that I learned early-on in my encounters with evangelicals was that everyone’s behavior was monitored with a little less gusto than the “Church Lady” on SNL’s “Church Chat” skits (oh, man. Dana Carvey must’ve had some sort of experiences with southern evangelical ladies).
Granted much of the behavior being judged at that time in my life was more along the lines of “grey areas” rather than actual “sin,” but I learned that when you were honest about your actual “sin,” there was going to be a stern lecture and then a series of follow-ups…usually delivered by friends or mentors that somehow found a way to be condescending enough to keep me from wanting to go through that process again.
So, I figured out ways to hide sin from peeople.
And, scarily, I got good at it.
Here I thought that when you stop pretending, you expose the pretending of others. Unfortunately, that wasn’t my experience early on.
Thankfully, as I got older and was able to more freely choose those circles of trust, I found a group of guys (and a leader) that handled things differently and we sharpened each other rather than kicked each other.
But let’s be honest: Most of us are a lot like that stubborn mule, not only with those Christians we’re in orbit around, but also with God who already knows us better than we realize and loves us more than we could ever know. Our sins are already more intimately known by Him than us.
Yet we are stubborn like a mule.
We shoot ourselves in the foot for temporary moments of fun or pleasure or escape and continue in it because it’s fun and gives pleasure and allows us to escape. And then we get it together in front of others.
And in front of God.
But he instructs us.
He looks us in the eye and tells us how to live.
He protects us.
He surrounds us with shouts founded in deliverance.
His faithfulness will overwhelm us.
It’ll keep us from pain (and let’s just admit that all those things we did when we were young that we regret little but don’t want our kids to have any part of did cause us some degree of pain).
And confession will allow us to be joyful.
We can shout enthusiastically.
We can live in harmony with Him like we’re supposed to.
But this Psalm shows us the artist was right about the sin on the nightly news: It will give us freedom and give all those around us freedom to stop pretending. We can sharpen each other.
We don’t have to hide from God.
We don’t have to live in fear of Him.
Confession is much more for us than for God. He already forgave us at the Cross when all our sins were in the future anyway. Our sins were already exposed, man. Yet we act like they aren’t.
Aren’t you tired of pretending with each other?
Aren’t you tired of pretending with God?
(Tomorrow’s Reading: Psalms 37-44)
(and if you’re so inclined, you can go to iTunes and download the “intro to ‘I Repent” and the song “I Repent.” Your life will better for it.)