My brother-in-law bought me a Journaling Bible two years ago for Christmas, and I love it. I’m one of those people that has a Bible in a lot of different translations because it’s interesting to me to see how the word of God translates to different people groups. I know some are translations, some are paraphrases, some are loose, some are close, but my favorite might be The Amplified Bible.
If you couldn’t tell by now, I love words. I love the piecing together of phrases that tell someone just how you’re feeling or thinking. I especially love when words jump off the page and give you a brand new revelation of what they mean.
My first year as a counselor at Camp Robinson was the summer before my senior year of high school. I’d been asked to do the early morning devotion by the lake the next morning, and I was sitting on my porch reading and trying to see where the Lord was taking me. I ended up in the Psalms and kept coming back to Psalm 51.
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David; when Nathan the prophet came to him after he had sinned with Bathsheba.
1HAVE MERCY upon me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to the multitude of Your tender mercy and loving-kindness blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly [and repeatedly] from my iniquity and guilt and cleanse me and make me wholly pure from my sin!
3For I am conscious of my transgressions and I acknowledge them; my sin is ever before me.
4Against You, You only, have I sinned and done that which is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified in Your sentence and faultless in Your judgment.
5Behold, I was brought forth in [a state of] iniquity; my mother was sinful who conceived me [and I too am sinful].
6Behold, You desire truth in the inner being; make me therefore to know wisdom in my inmost heart.
7Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean [ceremonially]; wash me, and I shall [in reality] be whiter than snow.
8Make me to hear joy and gladness and be satisfied; let the bones which You have broken rejoice.
9Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my guilt and iniquities.
10Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right, persevering, and steadfast spirit within me.
11Cast me not away from Your presence and take not Your Holy Spirit from me.
12Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and uphold me with a willing spirit.
13Then will I teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You.
14Deliver me from bloodguiltiness and death, O God, the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness (Your rightness and Your justice).
15O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16For You delight not in sacrifice, or else would I give it; You find no pleasure in burnt offering.
17My sacrifice [the sacrifice acceptable] to God is a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart [broken down with sorrow for sin and humbly and thoroughly penitent], such, O God, You will not despise.
18Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion; rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
19Then will You delight in the sacrifices of righteousness, justice, and right, with burnt offering and whole burnt offering; then bullocks will be offered upon Your altar.
I was reading it over and over again and the words that kept coming to me were consequence and circumstance, but I could never quite get what I wanted to get out of the passage to fortify those two words. Tim Hodge walked up and asked me what I was reading, and I told him. I explained to him my predicament, and he said, (loosely paraphrased of course) “The word mercy in this passage is the Hebrew word racham. It means to have compassion and lovingly forgive and forget.” The rest, as they say, was history. It began rolling up in my spirit about the way God forgives us. He doesn’t look at us and say, “Oh, Me. She messed up again. Am I ever going to be able to stop forgiving her for the same thing?!” No! He looks at us with compassion, and He loves on us, and He tells us we’re forgiven even when what we did was really dumb.
I mean, this was what David wrote after sinning with Bathsheba! He had royally messed up! This is the heart’s cry of a man who knows how wrong he’s been. He knows just how bad he’s made things. He knows the enemy has just come in and run roughshod all over his life, but he also knows his God. He knows he’s forgiving to a fault, loves us more than life, and wants us to do better.
Ok, so you may ask how I tied consequence and circumstance in there, and this is where the beginning and end of this entry will all come together…hopefully. :)
I was an English major in college, and as such, had to do several literary analyses and word studies. If you take the two words and break them down by prefix, circum and con, you get two different, yet similar ideas. Circum- as a prefix means the perimeter of something as in the circumference of a circle or circumnavigation. Con- translates as “with”.
Circumstances are things that cause you to do something, whether what you do is good or bad. They are all the things going on around you at the time when you sin. Friends pressuring you to do something you know you shouldn’t; co-workers stressing you out to the point of pre-meditated murder; family making you so crazy you want to strangle them…all circumstances. They present you with the opportunity; you decide how to act on it.
Consequences are the results of how you react to your circumstances. You let your friends talk you into something wrong; you get in trouble with your parents. You kill your co-workers; you get incarcerated…and probably fired. You let your family drive you crazy, you just end up crazy, because they’re your family. What do you do, right? Regardless of what you did, there are ALWAYS consequences and repercussions.
He has mercy. He forgives. He forgets. He loves us in spite of our stupidity. We’re sheep. Sheep are some of the least intelligent animals on the planet. But, we have a Shepherd. What a Shepherd. He leaves the 99 to find the one little lost lamb after he’s gone off and done something he shouldn’t have. We are all important. We are all worth saving. To Him, we were all worth dying for.
And, in the prayer I prayed after that devotion, I said, “Lord, let our circumstances be reasons for victory, not excuses for defeat.”