A meditation on Psalm 32 based on the Leader worship resources for Lent, published by MennoMedia for the fourth Sunday in Lent 2016.
Blessed is the one
whose transgressions are forgiven,
whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the one
whose sin the Lord does not count against them
and in whose spirit is no deceit. (psalm 32:1-2)
We have been thinking about ourselves and our relationship with the Father as a relationship between the great Author and his collected works. We are each living ink. Our stories are still flowing from the pen of life.
During the first few weeks of lent we focused on turning over the pens of our lives and allowing the great Author to write our stories for us. As well as how to find light in the dark texts of life and also that we can leap off the page and become living ink in our lives through the relationships we have with others.
Today we are going to think about turning over a new leaf. The focus statement for this week says,
“Turning Over a New Leaf.” As we turn over the page of each chapter in the grand covenant narrative, we find ourselves invited to “re-turn” to the open arms of Christ and his ways, and to experience his good news of reconciliation.
So what does it mean to turn over a new leaf?
Perhaps the most familiar story in the Bible of someone turning over a new leaf is in the parable of the prodigal son found in Luke 15:11-32. We all have heard this story of the man with two sons who chose two very different ways to go in life.
The younger son thought all he needed to be happy was his share of his fathers wealth. He took it and went out to find his happiness. seeking his identity in the world.
When I kept silent,
my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
For day and night
your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
as in the heat of summer. (Psalm 32:3-4)
God desires a personal intimate relationship with each and every one of us. He sees the way we each have tried to follow after the world. He sees each sin that we commit in an effort to chase after the world to find happiness. And yet he still calls each one of us back to him with his arms opened wide to receive us.
Why should we go to him? Because no matter how long we chase after things in this world we can never find something that truly satisfies us. Just as the younger son in the parable learned, even with all the wealth and privilege an inheritance can bring you are still constantly looking for the next thing to try to find fulfillment. Eventually you fall so low even the pigs have it better. And you are just as miserable as when you had the wealth that couldn’t buy you contentment.
Then I acknowledged my sin to you
and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
my transgressions to the Lord.”
And you forgave
the guilt of my sin (psalm 32:5)
For contentment comes from the Father. Our identities do no come from this world. They come from the Father. When we find our identity in him, he helps us to turn over a new leaf. We can begin to become the living ink of the Father using our lives to tell about the stories he is waiting to write with in the lives of others. Stories of love, redemption and humility.
Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
will not reach them.
You are my hiding place;
you will protect me from trouble
and surround me with songs of deliverance. (Psalm 32:6-7)
When we turn over a new leaf we must turn it over in complete and utter submission to the Father. We must go forward in total surrender to God’s will. We come to the Father broken people, broken both by the world and by ourselves. It is only in our obvious brokeness that we can begin to heal through the Father.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my loving eye on you. (Psalm 32:8)
But there was a second brother in the parable. He too sought to find his identity.
We must be careful when turning over a new leaf of righteousness that we don’t then become like the older brother in the parable. This brother too was separated from his father. He was so wrapped up in being a righteous man and doing everything to the letter of the law that he lost the righteousness that comes through the Father and instead he became self-righteous, finding his identity in the wrong kind of legalistic righteousness.
Do not be like the horse or the mule,
which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
or they will not come to you.
Many are the woes of the wicked,
but the Lord’s unfailing love
surrounds the one who trusts in him. (Psalm 32:9-10)
The father is patiently waiting for this son to turn over a new leaf and come home to him as well.
Just as he waits for me and for you. He patiently waits for each of us. We just have to stop and listen.
Come as you are where you are. Bring your brokeness to him! He seeks to heal us. He ignores our brokeness to pull us in. He seeks to restore us to our identity in him.
Rejoice in the Lord and be glad, you righteous;
sing, all you who are upright in heart! (Psalm 32:11)
So this week I invite you to re-examine the stories currently being written in your life. Is it time to turn over a new leaf? For myself this is a daily thing. Each morning I must turn over a new leaf and start the story again. Asking the Father for his loving guidance to help me find and live my identity as a new creation in God through Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Then, and only then, can I become living ink. An ambassador for the Father, taking this living ink out into the world around us that is hurting. Helping the lost to see they need to come back to the open arms of the Father.
C. S. Lewis once said,
If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the logical explanation is that I was made for another world.
Come back to the Father. He is waiting with open arms. Turn over a new leaf and leave behind whatever has pulled you away.