Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Sunday Morning Meds--Groaning



“When I kept silent, my bones wasted away 
through my groaning all day long” Psalm 32

I’m not sure I know why myself—and I’m not sure I want to know—but one of the first novels I read that simply wouldn’t exit the chambers of my heart was Alan Paton’s Too Late the Phalarope, a novel of sin and self-righteousness, set in apartheid South Africa.  The pulsating portrayal of Pieter van Vlaanderin’s guilt simply wouldn’t let me alone.  I became him—like I said, I don’t know why.
 
Van Vlaanderin, a police officer sworn to uphold laws which keep races apart, has sexual relations with a black woman.  His marriage is cold and stultifying, but he knows very well that his sin is not his wife’s fault.  In the face of his own overwhelming desire, he falls.  But he doesn’t get away with it, and the truth comes out. 

The real horror of the story, however, is his inability to find forgiveness.  The sorrow in his heart just won’t go away.

Too Late the Phalarope put me through agonies more terrifying than any I’d ever undergone myself when, as an undergraduate, I read the novel.  When van Vlaanderin kept silent, his bones wasted away through his groaning all day long, and so did mine.  Reading the novel was excruciating, and that’s why it was so memorable.

And that’s why, perhaps, Too Late the Phalarope comes to mind when I read the third verse of Psalm 32:  I can’t help thinking of the bone-wasting agonies of Pieter van Vlaanderin, a man from supposedly God-fearing family who couldn’t find forgiveness.

Post Bathsheeba, David’s bones shook with horror and guilt at what he’d done.  We know that’s true, after all, from Psalm 51.  “My sin is always before me,” David says, after Nathan let him know the truth. Full of misery, David asks the Lord for forgiveness: “Let the bones you have crushed rejoice.”    
 
Some scholars speculate that Psalm 32 should really be Psalm 52.  The 32nd Psalm seems, after all, a kind of retrospective poem David might have written to explain exactly what happened when finally he found the forgiveness he was looking for in Psalm 51.  “This is how it went,” he seems to say.  Then he explains how it was that he acknowledged his sin and confessed.  David’s songs—both 32 and 52—record the reality of God’s forgiveness only because they first acknowledge the reality of his sin, or so it seems to me.       

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.  Psalm 32 begins in defining blessedness as the condition of the forgiven, the state of mind and soul of those who know that every last inch of the blackened corners of their hearts have been scoured, those who don’t try to cover things, those who conceal nothing from the watchful eyes of God—as if they could.

I sometimes wonder whether those who confess faith in God can really know his grace if they haven’t known their own sin, if they haven’t felt the groaning of their bones, as David says, if they haven’t felt something of to the horror that Pieter van Vlaanderin knew—as did David. 

Answer me this:  how can anyone know grace without knowing sin?  

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

It's called new birth in Christ, old things and possessions pass away , all things become new. Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe. MY SINS, MY SINS. No. Jesus paid for my sins. I have a new life in him. Let them go!

Anonymous said...

David believed and had faith in a promise. We can accept and live a new life because Jesus fulfilled that promise of a new life in Him.

Anonymous said...

Answer, Celebrate your sin or Christ's redemptive sacrifice and new life in Him. Adam and Eve also understood that it feels good for a while to be in charge and do it my way.

Anonymous said...

*Are you- or someone you love-enslaved by ay kind of movement, group, church or denomination that incessantly drives you to do more and more stuff and therebyimpress GOD with your goodness and deeds?
* Are you exhausted by futile attempts to measure up, and frustrated by endless haranguers that tell you that you that you just need to try harder?
* Do you feel like a hamster endlessly running around a wheel inside a cage in a vain attempt to conquer all of your problems so that GOD will love you?
* Do you think that real Christianity seems to be an irrational pathetic god-and-pony show, much like what you have seen on TV?
* Do you believe that GOD clinically judges and records your daily performance and that your salvation is always hanging in the balance?
* Do you believe that GOD has a giant spiritual scoreboard in heaven, with angels constantly recording and updating your spiritual performance?
* Have you been convinced that GOD is mad at you and taken some kind of perverse pleasure in dangling your feet over the hot coals of hell?
* Have you allowed some authoritarian, charismatic pastor or leader to have influence and power over you because he or she has a "special anointing."
* Are you burned out because of unreasonable legalistic demands?
If the answer is yes to any of these then you are, I'm sorry, under legalistic, "performance based", RELIGION. You will never experience GOD's grace under any of these conditions.

Anonymous said...

GOD wants no part of RELIGION. Who did Jesus confront when he came to us. THE RELIGIOUS leaders. He wants us to follow HIM. Faith alone, GRACE alone, CHRIST alone. Nothing more ad nothing less.

Anonymous said...

I want you to all think of "2" numbers. The first is, the number of sins you've committed in your life.....now the 2nd number, the number of sins you've asked forgiveness for. Are they the same or different? If your like me, they're different. THAT IS WHAT GRACE IS. Thank GOD and HIS SON for that.

Anonymous said...

JCS questioned, "answer me this: how can anyone know grace without knowing sin?

Here are some random thoughts that come to mine when thinking about your question.

The degree to which one recognizes his lostness is the degree to which one recognizes his need for Jesus Christ.

Another thought, I think it was Martyn Lloyd Jones who wrote about revival, and stated that revival only occurs when one has an overwhelming understanding of one's own sin.

Pain is a gift, is a quote AA folks often share with each other.

The Apostle Paul boasted of his sufferings...

JT