It is easy to hate. Almost enjoyable to look down my nose and remember your sins with disdain.
"However," God says, "my goal is not hatred, but love. Not memories of horror, but glimpses of pleasure."
God challenges me to treat even the poorest and most awful humans with respect, to “love my enemies” and to “turn the other cheek,” when whumped. He ignores the easy way and commands the impossible.
"However," God says, "my goal is not revenge, but love. Not memories of horror, but the pleasures of forgiveness."
At times my enemies are faceless fiends from afar, part-time pilots whose greatest skill is destruction. But, often I discover that my greatest enemy is really within, a lurking craziness that eats away at my best intentions and makes me less than my weakest hope could allow.
Then I cry and open God’s Love Letter, searching for His voice. Here I find answers, direction and peace. Like from the repentant heart of Israel’s King David.
“I know how bad I’ve been,” the king sings. “My sins are staring me down. … Wipe out my bad record. … Scrub away my guilt. …Put fresh wind in my sails.”
It seems that the king’s pain gave him cause to sing of cleansing and of hope.
One translation of his song reads, “Blot out my transgressions.” However, a blotter is not an effective way to remove deep stains. A blotter always leaves a residue.
Sinner David chose a more complete illustration. “Wipe out.” “Scrub away.” “Clean away my transgressions.”
When you soak, scrub, rub, wipe and clean a dirty dish, there is NO dirt left. No residue from lunch. Not even a crumb of pizza. Nothing.
It’s all gone. Forever. Full stop. All that remains is the shine of well-scrubbed purity.
When God scrubs me into His “Clean Plate Club,” He also prepares me to receive the gifts He is eager to give. He smiles with deep satisfaction as the clean plate of my life fills with His compassion, His gentleness, His forgiveness, His mercy, His joy, His peace, His patience and His love.
"My goal," God says, "is not hatred, but purity. Not carefully catalogued memories of horror, but the pleasures of forgiving and the power of being forgiven."
The repentant king’s song also includes a verse asking God to “put fresh wind in my sails.”
I’ve tried to do that. By myself. I’ve pumped up the rhetoric, blown hard and plugged in the fans. Yet, the sails of my life hung limp until I asked God to blow the wind of His Spirit my way. That’s when the adventures began.
Near the end of David’s song, the king asks God to make him a teacher, “so I can teach sinners your ways.”
Maybe that’s the whole purpose of God’s forgiveness, His “Clean Plate Club.”
As He scrubs my filth away, He gives me a Thanksgiving story to tell. A compelling narrative with a beginning, middle and end. A story so filled with honesty and love those who listen will sense hope in His forgiveness.
"My greatest pleasure," God says, "is not punishment, but forgiveness. When I forgive, I toss the wash-water deep into the sea where even I can never find it again."