I remember vividly when I was a kid waiting for my sister. She took ballet and I would wait outside the building until her practice was over. One time, I had the genius idea and thought, “When she comes out, I’m racing her to the car.”
Lo and behold, she came out and I took off running. I didn’t stop until I sat down in the car. Then I looked up. I thought, “Hey, you’re not my sister. Hey, wait a minute, this isn’t our car.” It was probably one of the most awkward situations I’ve ever been in.
Maybe your mistake wan’t as funny. Maybe it was devastating or tragic. Maybe it ruined a friendship or even a marriage. Maybe you feel like you’re still paying for that mistake made so many years ago.
You’re not alone. Moses messed up royally. He got angry with God’s people and spoke as if he and not God were responsible for giving the Israelites water and helping them out of jams time and time again.
Then there’s David, who committed adultery with Bathsheeba, lied to and tried to deceive her husband, then finally had him killed. I think that qualifies as an epic fail.
The good news is that your story doesn’t have to end with failure. God offers forgiveness and a fresh start if you own up to what you did and are willing to change and go in a different direction.
I love what David wrote in Psalm 51 after he confessed to his own sin and repented of it:
“Generous in love—God, give grace! Huge in mercy—wipe out my bad record.
Scrub away my guilt,
soak out my sins in your laundry.
I know how bad I’ve been;
my sins are staring me down.
You’re the One I’ve violated, and you’ve seen
it all, seen the full extent of my evil.
You have all the facts before you;
whatever you decide about me is fair.
I’ve been out of step with you for a long time,
in the wrong since before I was born.
What you’re after is truth from the inside out.
Enter me, then; conceive a new, true life.
Soak me in your laundry and I’ll come out clean,
scrub me and I’ll have a snow-white life.
Tune me in to foot-tapping songs,
set these once-broken bones to dancing.
Don’t look too close for blemishes,
give me a clean bill of health.
God, make a fresh start in me,
shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life.
Don’t throw me out with the trash,
or fail to breathe holiness in me.
Bring me back from gray exile,
put a fresh wind in my sails!
Give me a job teaching rebels your ways
so the lost can find their way home.
Commute my death sentence, God, my salvation God,
and I’ll sing anthems to your life-giving ways.
Unbutton my lips, dear God;
I’ll let loose with your praise.”
All I can add to that is