July 09, 2008

The Light Must Be Gentle

Psalm 139

Search me, O God, and know my heart … Lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24


When we practice the vertical habit of saying “I'm sorry” to God, it's important to position our healthy confession of sin between the unhealthy extremes of denial and despair. On the one hand, the thought that every corner of our lives is exposed by God's floodlight might be so intimidating that a person could try to deny sin's reality and avoid God altogether. On the other hand, the thought of God's continual scrutiny might fill a person with constant feelings of inadequacy and despair. Psalm 139 helps us find a balance by teaching that the shining of God's penetrating light on our lives is precisely how God leads us in the way everlasting. It shows us how God's light both mysteriously consumes and comforts at the same time. An ancient spiritual writer once put it this way: “Those who neither see their sins nor confess them are not illumined with light. But those for whom their sins loom so large that they despair of forgiveness are drowned in light. What follows from this? The light must be gentle.” There's the balance we need, graciously provided by our loving God. It's there in the blazing yet gentle light of his glory.

Thank you, Lord, for shining the light of your holiness into our lives. May your glory scatter the shadows of our sin and allow us to bask in your love. In Jesus' name, Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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