Wednesday, January 4, 2012

From Mercy to Duck Sludge

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.” (Lamentations 3:22-24)

My husband approaches me one evening, and I can tell he's somewhat perturbed. "Why is it," he begins, confirming my inkling of his annoyance," that every time I go check on the ducks, their water is nothing but a lump of sludge? Don't the kids ever give them fresh water?"
"Every day," I tell him. "Every day the kids bring them fresh water to their bowl and clean it. Every day they fill it up to the top, and every day the ducks waste it and drag mud into it and splash all the clean water out. By the end of the day, all that's left is a lump of sludge. It's sort of like what we do to the Lord's mercy."
"Ah....", he says, as his eyes light up with understanding.

Fresh is His presence of love and mercy. Fresh is our resolve to abide in it. However, the day's "mud" gets stuck to our feet and our bottoms and we drag our filth into His sweet pool of water and inevitably muck it up. You know what, though? That's sort of what it's there for. My children don't put a bowl of water out for the ducks just to sit there all pretty and shiny. The water, like God's mercies, is there to be used. Don't get me wrong-- I'm not telling you to go and purposefully drag your body through the muck of the world just to squander His grace. No, but it is an inevitability that this world is geared toward chaos and we are indeed living in it. Let grace be there to cover and clean and refresh you when you are done with being corrupted by the world and in need of His loving kindness.

Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
so that sinners will turn back to you.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
you who are God my Savior,
and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
Open my lips, Lord,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.

May it please you to prosper Zion,
to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
in burnt offerings offered whole;
then bulls will be offered on your altar.
(Psalm 51)

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