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The Wastelands

The Wastelands

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered . . . For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away . . . Psalms 32:1-3

When I read today’s passage, I thought, I’ve been there. I’ve pursued some appetite that I thought was fulfilling, until I found myself trapped by it. Enslaved and ashamed, I wanted out, but I was imprisoned. I lived in constant fear of discovery, but still I couldn’t leave. My bones wasted away. I was in the wastelands and I had no one to blame but myself. I was guilty as sin.

In my sin, I cried out to God for forgiveness and He forgave. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins (1 John 1:9). God’s grace however, is meant to lead us to repentance (Romans 2:4).

I gratefully accepted God’s mercy, but I thought that meant I was magically transported out of the wastelands. I refused to change anything though, as I was sorry only enough to sooth my conscience. Then, when I inevitably indulged in the behavior again – because I refused to change anything – I repeated the cycle of guilt and confession.

There is always forgiveness when I turn to God, but to know the blessed peace of the Psalmist in today’s passage, I must do what it takes to repent. In my case this meant confession, not only to God, but to others. It meant getting the help I needed. I wanted a simple prayer and to be done, but to know the peace of forgiveness, I had to leave the thing that was causing me to waste away in the first place.

In retrospect, climbing that mountain of recovery and repentance was obviously worth it, but at the time, it was a miserable choice. Only when the pain of staying the wastelands became too great was I willing to do what it took to leave.

Thankfully, God is faithful to forgive and always welcomes us with open arms. Beyond the wastelands, there lies a beautiful promised land of forgiveness where our sins are covered. In that place, we are truly blessed as we find the peace, joy, and life that only God can provide.

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