Verse For Reflection:
“For we have sinfully and lawlessly departed from You, and have sinned in all things and have not obeyed Your Commandments, we have not observed them or done them as You have commanded us.” (From Daniel 3:6-7)
I often return to the Book of Daniel to read the story of Shadrach, Meschach and Abednego, the three men who would rather roast in the fire than renounce God as Nebuchadnez’zar ordered them to do. Their faithfulness to God and their courage in the face of death was amazing, but the other thing that awed me was their humble posture before God. The prayer that I quoted above was part of their supplication, their simple openness to God, a part of their genuine admission that Israel had truly sinned. There were no excuses, no attempts to diminish the gravity of offenses committed against God. Their words convey an image of true acknowledgement of their sins and an acceptance of whatever consequences God may deliver upon them.
When I was in high school my uncle gave me a guitar. It was a very inexpensive one made by an ordinary craftsman who made guitars from his home. It did not look fancy like the other branded guitars my classmates had, but it had the most beautiful sound. Even when being played along with the other guitars that we brought to school the sound of my guitar would rise above the rest: it was warm and distinct, crisp yet very light. Although it was not a branded guitar some of my friends were willing to trade their more expensive guitars for mine because of the beautiful melody it made. My guitar needed one particular care though: it had to be tuned at least three times a day. For some reason the keys that held the strings would not stay taut and so I had to tighten the strings once in the morning, once or twice during lunch time and one more time at night for all the strings to stay in tune. Although I had to tune my guitar many times daily over the years I never regretted repeating this caring gesture over and over again. We became a team: I tuned it as often as it needed, and everytime it was tuned, my guitar became the perfect beauty that it was.
It is sometimes hard for me to come face to face with the reality and consequences of my sinning, especially God’s corrections that come with it. No matter how hard I try, the not-so-nice side of my human nature rears up to undo what I thought were really good steps toward the Lord, what I thought were really good efforts toward living and nurturing a contrite heart. On most days it is not so hard to take stock of what I done and reflect on the ground I have gained – or lost – in my journey toward Jesus’ exhortation to be holy, to be sanctified. On some days though when sin has had the upper-hand, it is hard to bend the knees and open my heart to be washed clean again, and accept with gratitude the momentary correction that God has bestowed on me, or even be thankful for the fact that I have been forgiven. On bad days it is hard to deal humbly with my broken nature, and to simply say, Dear Lord, I have sinned, please forgive me, and please help me overcome my sin, as often as I need correction. But praise our Loving God who never ceases His hope and His patience, knowing that in His loving hands, we become the perfect beauty that we are.