I was reading Psalm 27 last night and it struck me again how awesome God is. He keeps us safe in His hiding place when we choose to hide there. Now sometimes we go out from under His covering and do things we know better than to do; and though there is forgiveness and grace in His Love, there is also the knowledge that what we sow, we will reap. Consequences still have to be paid for defiance and sometimes we have consequences for things we do when we don't know better. It's the way of the balance He established. Still, in the midst of it all, His hand will stay the enemy when he gets to a certain point and say, "No. That's enough. Back off now. This one is mine."
I did some pretty dumb things when I was younger. I also had some pretty mean and nasty things done to me. Even then, though, I felt the Father step in and stop the evil surrounding me and put a stop to the attack; I also sensed His presence at a point and knew I had gone far enough and that it was time to come back to my senses. That's not to say I didn't have a choice, that I couldn't have decided to keep going in my sin and deny my new family heritage; but the same Holy Spirit that convicted me and drew me into the family of God also knew how to nudge me and remind me that my Heavenly Father wasn't going to be real thrilled with what I was doing, and that as His child this wasn't exactly the best activity to engage in....and, with the sensitivity He put in me even as a little child, I ached at the thought of disappointing Him more, so I usually stopped.
I did make some lasting mistakes. I'm still paying the consequences for those mistakes today. However, I've been forgiven and I no longer feel guilt - guilt is, you know, a tool of the enemy to immobilize us and prevent us from going forward for the Father - so I accept what I have brought into motion and I move on from there. Some things cannot be changed. Some decisions will have a lasting effect. There is no changing that. However, the love and forgiveness of God the Father through the gift of His Son Jesus reminds us that we no longer need to carry the burden of those sins around on our backs or strapped to our arms and legs, but that the debt for those errors has been paid and we are free to live without the nagging voice of the enemy inside us that says over and over how rotten we were to make such a stupid decision. God doesn't condemn, remember....the Holy Spirit convicts, leading to repentance. His goal is never to make us feel little, or stupid, or like we've failed. His aim is repentance, which is to accept responsibility and to decide not to go that way again....and forgiveness, which lifts the burden...and restoration, which brings us back to Him and re-establishes our relationship with our Father.
Then, further on in the Psalm, I read the verse that hit me like a brick this time around....
"I would have despaired unless I had believed I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." [verse 13]
See, for a lot of us, we think the only time we're going to get a glimpse of the goodness of God when it's relevant to "our miserable human existence" (not my words, but those of a few pastors I've heard here and there) is once we get to heaven. Not so. This scripture says we're going to see His goodness "in the land of the living." That means in this lifetime! That means that while we still draw breath, while we still inhabit this earth-suit, we are going to see the goodness of God the Father of all. That means we aren't going to be condemned to walking this life wishing only for the time to come, when we can see Him face to face and worship at His throne...but that we will see Him in the here & now....that we will feel His Presence, sense His Glory, and experience Him in a dynamic and intense way in our lifetime. It's not all about the future, about heaven....it's about now.
Isn't God great?