One of our Christmas traditions involves tying six or seven strands of thick red and gold ribbon along our staircase like rappelling ropes. A big shoelace bow at the top secures the ribbon as it falls over the side and lightly touches the ground below. Our family reads the notes and letters received that day and prays for each card sender during dinner, and after the meal we staple the Christmas cards to the ribbons. Every time we walk through the front door we are reminded of the people who make life meaningful and rich.
A closer look at any of the pictures on those cards shows everyone with their eyes open, all smiles. Photographs are taken on scenic sunset beaches, in clean homes and beside lovely landscapes, and no one has broccoli in their teeth. The lighting is just so and even the pets seem to smile for the camera. But looking at a single photo misses the bigger picture. Each person in those photos has walked through victory, loss, conflict, disappointment, joy, celebration, frustration, delight, and confusion. Those stories are not seen by merely looking at one moment, in one picture.
I often wonder about Bathsheba. Most of us probably refer to her by the one snapshot of the Bathing Beauty. During the writing of the Old Testament, the culture didn’t allow legal rights for women. Bathsheba did not have the option to call her lawyer when King David summoned her. I doubt her refusal would have been an option.
Did she knowingly bathe when David was out on the roof? Did she seduce him? Or did she simply show up at the wrong place at the wrong time?
The Scriptures do not give us insight into what Bathsheba thought or how she felt. We do know she married Uriah, a man of character. The people closest to us help shape us, and we presume the same was true for Bathsheba and her husband. Uriah’s name means, “The Lord is light,” and he is listed as one of David’s Mighty Men (2 Samuel 24:39). An elite military leader, Uriah acted honorably and showed loyalty to the men who reported to him in the army. In the end, he was murdered by the king he faithfully served.
Bathsheba not only grieved the unjust death of her husband, she also grieved the death of the baby conceived during David’s disobedience and sin. I’ve walked the painful path of miscarriage personally and I’ve walked alongside friends who have lost infant children—I can imagine Bathsheba’s pain felt unbearable.
How often do we write off people who have sinned? How often do we write off ourselves when we sin? Do we allow one story to define the entire person? When we see a blatant act of sin, like the one between David and Bathsheba, do we tend to assume their path of redemption stops there?
Sin is not the end of the great Gospel Story, and the sin committed to and by Bathsheba was not the end of her story either. We go on to read how she grew in strength, character, and influence as she became the mother of Solomon, the wisest king (1 King 4:29-30). She negotiates later with David to ensure her son was given his rightful place on the throne (1 Kings 1:15-21). And joining a long list of men and women who are sinners just like us, Bathsheba’s greatest honor was being listed in the genealogy of the Messiah, Jesus (Matthew 1:6).
Sisters, our past does not define us. The sin committed by us or to us is not the end of the story. Our God is able to redeem and restore!
David pens an incredible poem of repentance in Psalm 51. He acknowledges and turns from his sin and prays for God to renew him from within—a renewal that for us has been sealed by Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf.
Believing that, let us also join David in praying:
“Create in me a clean heart, O God.
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.” (v10)
You and I are not limited to our past mistakes. Keep showing up. Be steadfast. Not for your sake, but for the sake of Jesus. He is worth everything.
Vivian Mabuni is an author and speaker, and a sushi, white Christmas lights, coffee-with-friends-lover. She has been on staff with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) for 26 years and serves with Epic Movement, the Asian-American ministry of Cru. Vivian is the author of Warrior In Pink: A Story of Cancer, Community and the God Who Comforts.