“The embarrassment and the disgrace are too much to bear. What I did, what I said, what I thought and felt was just wrong. I’m disgusted with myself. I feel so ashamed and so dirty.
How did my heart ever get so hardened? Will my conscience ever again feel clear? Can my soul ever be cleansed?”
When we have fallen in a big, public way, and the ugliness and uncleanness of our horribly wrong choices are out there for everyone to see, we may feel as if we will never recover. Things will never be the same for us again.
In the process much more than our reputation may have gotten demolished. Perhaps our rebellion against the will of God has also destroyed our relationships, our home, our health, our savings, or even our faith.
Such was the case with the Old Testament people of God. After centuries of idolatry, selfishness, and greed — with few, feeble attempts to turn things around and repent — God had finally scattered his people to the nations as a discipline for their sins.
But God’s love for sinners would not allow him to leave it at that. God’s love for us will not allow him to live it at that, either. He has a way of taking our stone-cold hearts and turning them into warm hearts — beating once again with spiritual life.
Through the gospel he calls us and gathers us back to himself. Through baptism he cleanses us. Through faith in Jesus Christ he softens our hard hearts and restores our sin-shattered minds.
He gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit through word and sacrament. The Spirit motivates us through the message of Jesus’ love and forgiveness to return to God and willingly follow his laws.
And the end of all that grace, mercy and forgiveness is the gift of citizenship in heaven. We’ll be God’s people. God will be our God — and we’ll never be separated again!
Yes, maybe we’ve tumbled far and fallen hard. But by God’s grace, we will recover. In his forgiveness, we rise again.
“For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. Then you will live in the land I gave your ancestors; you will be my people, and I will be your God. I will save you from all your uncleanness” (Ezekiel 36:24-29a, NIV).
Our Bible reading for Thursday, November 19, is Ezekiel 36:1 – 37:28, James 3:1-18 and Psalm 129:1-8.
Lord, thank you for your immense love and forgiveness. You have cleansed me from all my sins. By your blood you purified me of all transgression. By your Spirit you changed my heart and inspired me to follow your ways. Grant me the hope and peace of eternal life.
Header image based on "Ezekiel 11-19" by New Life Church Collingwood, CC By 2.0