During Hurricane Harvey, the Houston area received close to sixty inches of rain. Water drainage experts design all kinds of landscaping features to mitigate flooding in the Houston area. The fountains and lakes you see as you enter a subdivision are beautifully disguised flood mitigation features. However, no amount of these features could manage Harvey’s furor. Five feet of water, arriving over four days, caused irreparable damage. The sheer weight of water forced Houston to sink an inch lower, and it was beyond the design capacity for the area.
Soul tending in Psalm 32 reveals some ways in which confession and spending time in God’s presence help me to function as God designed me to. When I defy God’s design capacity I suffer, as do those around me.
1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the Lord counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah (Psalm 32:1-4 ESV)
“…my bones wasted away through my groanings all day long.”
Unrepented sin in my life takes me beyond God’s design capacity. I was not built to carry sin long-term in my spirit. The weight of sin wears me out physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
“Your hand was heavy on me day and night.”
Thank you, Lord, for not leaving me alone to figure it out. Out of your kindness, You came to me in the day and the night and firmly reminded me of my sin. The weight of my sin became too heavy to bear. I grew weaker on each day that I avoided confession.
5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:5 ESV)
When I confess, acknowledge, and uncover my sins, You forgive me. When I bring it all out into the open to you, I am forgiven completely. No bargaining necessary, no sacrifices needed, and nothing I tell You is surprising or shocking. However, I need to lay it down by saying it aloud. Sometimes I need the power of the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the sins I need to confess because I simply don’t remember them all.
6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him. 7 You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. Selah (Psalm 32:6-7 ESV)
Prayers lead to God’s presence. God’s presence leads me to find safe ground above the waves of destruction. And there I find a hiding place. In Your presence, I move from being surrounded by my enemies to a sweet place of refuge where I am surrounded by Your presence.
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. 9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding, which must be curbed with bit and bridle, or it will not stay near you. Psalm 32:8-9 ESV)
When I choose to remain in Your presence instead of dashing off to do whatever I think is most important, I receive sacred instructions for my next step. Can I set aside time each day to sit and listen to You?
As someone who often struggles with little or no sense of direction, I am very aware of my need for “turn by turn directions” to know the way to go. I need to know both the direction to travel, and the manner in which You want me to travel. Shall I travel light in this season? Shall I take little on my journey? Or should I pack up for a good long while?
10 Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds the one who trusts in the Lord.11 Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart. (Psalm 32:10-11 ESV)
Confessing sin regularly, and spending time in God’s presence daily, leads me to a greater sense of who I am created to be in Christ. I am beloved by the Lord. As I trust Him more, I begin to see I am embraced by steadfast love. The world’s standard for love is based on what I can do, what value I bring, and how I appear. God’s steadfast love is enduring and based on God’s promise-keeping, not my behavior. To be clear, this does not mean I will live a life without any suffering or hardship. Difficult situations continue to conform me to the likeness of Christ. (See the Apostle Paul for more information.)
When I clear out sin and selfishness, I see more clearly. My view of myself and God is not distorted by sin. When I fully trust God for all outcomes, I find peace that passes all understanding.
Will it all work out the way I want? No.
Will I struggle? Yes.
However, God’s presence will carry me. This causes me to be glad and rejoice in all circumstances.