Lenten Devotional // Day 4

Saturday, March 5
CONFESSION by Madi Denton

Psalm 51
Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
    Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion!
Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
    purify me from my sin!
Because I know my wrongdoings,
    my sin is always right in front of me.
I’ve sinned against you—you alone.
    I’ve committed evil in your sight.
That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict,
    completely correct when you issue your judgment.
Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin,
    from the moment my mother conceived me.
And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places;
    you teach me wisdom in the most secret space.
Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
    wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and celebration again;
    let the bones you crushed rejoice once more.
Hide your face from my sins;
    wipe away all my guilty deeds!
Create a clean heart for me, God;
    put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!
Please don’t throw me out of your presence;
    please don’t take your holy spirit away from me.
Return the joy of your salvation to me
    and sustain me with a willing spirit.
Then I will teach wrongdoers your ways,
    and sinners will come back to you.
Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation,
    so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness.
Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
You don’t want sacrifices.
    If I gave an entirely burned offering,
    you wouldn’t be pleased.
A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God.
    You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed.
Do good things for Zion by your favor.
    Rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.
Then you will again want sacrifices of righteousness—
    entirely burned offerings and complete offerings.
        Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

Reflection 
When I was in fourth grade, I stole a snow cone from a vendor at The Family Arena in St. Charles.

I was there with my family to celebrate the end of our Upwards Basketball season, and a vendor offered me a snow cone. Thinking it was a gift, I accepted the treat and ran off, leaving my parent there to deal with my snatch-and-run. Needless to say, I was in a bit of trouble when my adults finally caught up to me.

Immediately after realizing what I had done, I felt an overwhelming sense of shame. I’d done something wrong - and at a Jesus-centered event, even! I remember praying to Jesus for forgiveness, hoping he would accept my apology and remove the gnawing pit in my stomach. I vowed to never steal a snow cone again if God could find it in Themselves to forgive me. And, I’m proud to say I’ve kept that promise.

Of course, I have since moved on with my life. But, I still get that knot in my stomach when I know I’ve crossed a line, and I still carry feelings of shame and regret after doing something I’m not proud of. 

The author of Psalm 51 writes of these same feelings. They lay out for us a prayer of confession, something we can take to God when we need to admit our wrongdoings so that we can move forward. The author articulates those very real fears, emotions and concerns we’ve all experienced, at one time or another.

They first appeal to God’s mercy as they take responsibility for what they’ve done. But, they don’t stop there. They go on to name how they will choose to move forward differently, what new actions they will take in the wake of this forgiveness. Their confession wasn’t just to name the wrong, but to promise that they’ll turn a new direction, and walk along a new path. 

When we take our confessions to God, we’re met with a mercy that longs to “wipe away our wrongdoings according to Their great compassion.” And in doing so, we’re given a chance to move forward on a new path. One free of the guilt and regret we started with. 

Question for Contemplation
Are you carrying anything that you wish to release through confession?

Prayer
A Prayer of Confession:

“Most merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone. I have not loved you with our whole heart; I have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of your son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me; that I may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.”

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