Day 20 of Lent, Psalm 26:
I was lost in the middle of a big city and by myself, yet surrounded by crowds of people who spoke a different language– one which I could not speak or understand. The tall buildings towering above made it difficult for me to get my bearings. Everything looked familiar, but also everything began to look the same. I walked this way and then that way, approached person after person– yet made no further progress. I began to feel myself panic. I felt desperate and trapped. I was completely lost and did not know how I was going to find my way back.
Lost. Lent is much about our lost condition and a remedy for that condition. As I continue in Lent and come closer to Easter, there are some things I would like to remember. I want to remember my condition, one who was lost and who often still chooses my own way. It is a time of confession and thankfulness for the forgiveness I have received. I am reminded of my great need for redemption and of the great sacrifice made for me. I also desire to put aside the things that weigh me down and trust Him who is faithful. I hope to continue the time in the Psalms to treasure who God is– my Redeemer– so I may live more in light of this.
Worse than being lost
I was lost. Worse than being lost though, is being lost and not knowing it. How do you find your way out when you don’t even know you are lost? “Lost” becomes normal life. We were all once spiritually dead– our natural lost state. This is a problem: often spiritually dead people do not know they are spiritually dead. If we are lost, we need someone to find us and show us life. We need to be made alive, to have spiritual life. We need a remedy.
I love the book, Les Miserables. I read it for the third time before the recent motion picture came out, in the hope of remembering the story as the author wrote it. I love Hugo’s picture of life given for another–for one who is desperately lost and without hope. He writes beautifully of redemption. You probably know the story. Fantine was at her lowest point– without a husband, separated from her child, and fired from her job. Having lost her beauty, health and dignity as she sold her body, she has no one and has no where to go. Her condition was of complete lostness. She had lost all she loved and only death was sure. Jean Valjean takes her in, nurses her and provides for her until her unavoidable death. In her last days, she was treated with love and respect, and introduced to God. Jean Valjean gave her life, redeeming her from her own desperation and the clutches of Javert..
The interesting thing about Jean Valjean is, he too had a been redeemed from a wretched life through the Bishop. Jean Valjean would always remember his lost condition. The candlesticks he kept reminded him that he was once without hope, and utterly alone. Because of this, He could offer redemption to another one who was also lost.
God as redeemer
This is God’s redemption: taking what is dead and giving it life. God redeems. Psalm 26, as in many of the Psalms, speaks of God as a redeemer. It says:
But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity; redeem me, and be gracious to me. My foot stands on a level place; in the congregation I shall bless the Lord.
We all desire graciousness from God. That is what His redemption is: displaying His grace, a gift we don’t deserve. He redeems. He offers the spiritually dead, life. Redemption is also costly though. God knows, His perfect Son experienced death– to purchase our life.
When I was a child, a friend and I would ride our bikes through a small cemetery. We were not being disrespectful, but just enjoying the shady trees and the smooth roads. We would ride as if we were unaware of death. We were young and no one close to us had died. It easy to become unaware or forgetful of our old condition, or of others death condition. It is like I am riding my bike casually through the world forgetting that many I come into contact with everyday are lost. Some, may not realize they are lost, but they may be like I was in that big foreign city: uncertain of the way, scared and desperate.
God redeems, and gives those who are redeemed a chance to offer life to others. The question for me as I invest my life: will I ride my bike and ignore the spiritual death or will I step in, remembering my own lostness, like Jean Valjean?
For more about God’s redemption check out: Overflowing Love.