Psalm 51:10 – Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
I was walking through the den a few years ago when I stepped on it. In my hurried rush to get to the kitchen, I hadn’t turned on the light. I walked that path many times a day so I knew the way even in the shadows: straight out of my room, hug the wall on the left to move around the first chair, slightly bear to the right to miss the second chair, then straight on until the warmth of the carpet gave way to the cold kitchen floor. Time has erased my specific errand for that night, but I recall moving quickly and I remember the dark – dark that had provided me with a sense of false security.
The dimness had hidden the danger, but it was there waiting for my contact. The hazard was neither flat nor spongy, and my bare foot provided no protection. Hard and round it was, and the laws of physics could only offer me one outcome. As I rolled across the kitchen floor with no hope of recovery, I was reintroduced to my familiar nemesis: gravity.
I’m a good faller. I’ve been falling down as long as I can remember and have much experience in how to do it well. Tuck and roll is second nature to me as most of my falls happen in a slow-motion fashion allowing me time to assume the safest position. Even in my current state of middle age, I typically am up almost as quickly as I go down. Rarely am I seriously wounded.
This fall was different. I knew it the moment my right foot landed on that silly dog bone in the middle of the night. No time to tuck; I was already rolling. I landed on my left shoulder with incredible force and immediately knew that this pain would be lasting a long while. I was correct. My torn rotator cuff required a full year of healing… and all because I was gullible enough to trust the dark.
Whether I’m wandering through my home on a midnight errand or wandering through my days convinced of my path, trusting the dark is never my best option. The psalmist reminds me that I was born in the dark as a sinner, and only my Lord is able to wash me clean and bright – bright enough to actually see my future. A misplaced sense of self security is only going to trip me up and create painful ruptures in my self-worth, and so I am strongly encouraged to remember to whom I belong. God’s steadfast love and abundant mercy expunge my defiant self-assurance and create a new spirit within me.
During this holy season of Lent, I will remember that each of us may have been born sinners, but we belong to the Light. May we walk through these weeks together free from hidden hazards and without falling.
Working to remain upright,
Holy God, you desire truth in my inward being so teach me wisdom within my heart. Clean me up and let me hear joy and gladness coming from my own lips. Help me to share your love with others, and please you with my efforts. Amen.