Text: Lamentations 2:1-11, Psalm 51:11-14
There’s a beautiful hymn by Keith Green based on Psalm 51:10-12 that I learned growing up. I liked the rhythm of it more than the words, and remember my mom—a song leader and pastor’s wife—humming it around the house when we were little.
I’m an adult now, with a stronger faith than that little girl who sang “Create in Me a Clean Heart” in the hall. Still, the verse “Take not thy Holy Spirit from me” makes me stop short. Would He??
These passages we read today are Old Testament writings, a time when God directly interacted with His people through prophets and dreams and a burning bush. For one of them, whom our Lord inspired to write this Psalm, pleading to not be cast away from the Lord’s presence is a real and impactful prayer. Possession of the gift of the Holy Spirit was not a given—not a thing to be taken for granted.
Like the Israelites, we are creatures of habit. We give our lives to Christ only to try to take them back again. We experience the true love of God, the redemption of our sins, but we are determined to come back in wallow in the mess of our own making—as if we don’t have a Savior. In the second chapter of Lamentations, we find the author continuing to grieve for Jerusalem, describing God’s wrath and sin’s effects on a people who have time and again disobeyed Him. Our Lord is Holy (Psalm 99)! He cannot be near sin; by His very nature He will not tolerate its presence. We cannot be reconciled to God apart from Jesus’ saving work on the Cross. Without Him, we are like the ruins of a destroyed city.
What does this mean for us today—a broken humanity of hurting souls? It means we must return. Time and time again, amid the devastation and chaos of our wayward lives and deceitful hearts, we give ourselves back to the One who gives us life. We hand Him our ruins and receive His grace. We repent of our sins and ask again for His forgiveness—and Scripture promises He is faithful to give it (1 John 1:9).
Take not your presence from me!, we cry. And because of Christ’s righteousness has been credited to us, He grants our request! The God of all mercy and all holiness draws His repentant children near and does not cast them away—this is the good news of the Gospel.
I’m drawn to the words “reconciliation” and “forgiveness” time and time again in Scripture. God never stops offering them! Even in Lamentations, standing in the ruins, the writer’s words of hope seem to call out on our behalf (Lam. 3:55-57). God will rescue us from the depths of our pit if we only ask.
But we must ask. We must repent and receive the forgiveness our Savior has already secured. He won’t chase us down and chain us to his holy chariot — but He does extend His hand. He does pursue our hearts and offer us the sacred opportunity to follow Him.
Follow or flee. Turn toward Him or turn away. Return or reject.
May we return today and receive His love anew. Thank God He is faithful to give it.
“…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.”
- 2 Chronicles 7:14