Signposts: Daily Devotions

Tuesday, February 24

Have mercy on me, O God,according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
—Psalm 51: 1

During Lent, we are offered a gift, albeit one we may not welcome. That gift is increased self-understanding, most particularly understanding of our transgressions. The best book I have ever read about this subject is Speaking of Sin by Barbara Brown Taylor. In it, she writes with tremendous insight about repentance, penance and sin. 

If this sounds like dull, dreary reading, please trust me, it is not. It is fascinating and clear and hopeful. It is hopeful, to me, because it offers an intelligent theological journey into the human soul, a journey that is practical as well as painful. Reading that book is like dipping into a cold deep stream: shocking, scary and immensely refreshing. 

Taylor writes, “People do not want to hear about sin and repentance. They want to hear about grace and forgiveness, although it is hard to imagine what those words might mean apart from the somber reality of sin.” I agree.

How can we experience the mercy and steadfast love the psalmist pleas for without the awareness of our sin? It is said that King David wrote this psalm after the prophet Nathan accused him (accurately) of great sin. These, then, are the words of someone who understands both the depths of his own darkness and the immeasurable grace of God.

Help us, O Lord, to acknowledge our darkness, and to seek your Light. Lead us into self-awareness, and sustain us with your Holy Spirit. Amen.

These Signposts originally appeared on explorefaith in 2006.