Never At Arm’s Length
The king said, “My sin is ever before me.” I wonder how long that was true in his life. I know it’s over for him now…praise God…blessed relief from tortured mind, terrible nightmares, and horrible memories. Did he only feel that following the ugly affair and the murderous cover-up in which it resulted? Or did he feel that also over the “sins of his youth” to which he refers in Psalm 25? I am so glad that in Psalm 25 after he asked God not to remember the sins of his youth, he immediately asked God to remember him…but to do so “according to Your steadfast love” and “for the sake of Your goodness.”
Think about this. In all of history, was there a single time when the light of forgiveness broke upon the heart of a sinning man or woman that God kept such a broken person at arm’s length? Even when core truths had been violated…even when the most serious of issues had been compromised…even when there were absolutely no mitigating circumstances that applied…even when the trespass was a betrayal of high privilege and trust?
Dare we believe that it is clearly against Father God’s nature to forgive us at a distance…even at arm’s length? Mustn’t He run to meet us with our broken hearts and hopes? Mustn’t He reach to draw us close to His heart in a bear hug that interrupts our protests of unworthiness…that says…“Enough…I know all the confessional words you prepared…I know all about your dark feelings…your bone deep shame…your bitter regrets…how you wish with all you are that you could unring the bell…unwreck your life…unhurt all who have been harmed by your sins… enough! I know all this. And it’s good that it’s in your heart to think these things…to speak apology after apology all the while feeling they are too weak…too little…to long for forgiveness while expecting none as a matter of right…to want to make amends even though it feels so hopeless. Enough!”
And mustn’t He smother us with kisses…as though He never wants to stop…for sheer joy over our homecoming? And mustn’t He shine? Mustn’t He be radiant over His child alive again from the dead?
Dear sisters and brothers, I am not authorized to tell you how to feel…not at all! But I know this…deep down and through and through…He shines over you and upon you. It’s that wonderful way of His. It’s reflexive with Him Who cannot keep us at arm’s length, for amazing love of us.
I pray that today you will feel Him shining upon you as you look up from your place in His close embrace and behold His face. And, wonder of wonders, He isn’t frowning! He isn’t mad at you! He’s smiling from ear to ear. You have been brought near by Jesus’ blood. There is peace between you and Father God and all who plead the blood. (Have a read of Ephesians, chapter two.) Hatred, isolation, division have been destroyed root and fruit. The old things have passed away, behold, they are become new.
My, my, doesn’t the Cross empower us to imagine bold and wondrous things? It’s as though I can see you there right now…in my Father’s embrace. As for me, oh, I’m eager for my turn…but I want you to rest there awhile. It seems to me that you need this very much.
Aren’t you glad your Father doesn’t keep you at arm’s length? Now, how does this need to affect our relationships with one another?