Psalm 51:10-12 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.
Yesterday, I was awake by 4:45 am because my daughter’s dog, Jace, was body slamming her bedroom door. She had to leave before 4:00 am for work, and he wasn’t having it. Jace isn’t the only thing that woke me up, however. The small of my back starts sending a “get up” signal around 5:00 am every morning, and then the bladder chimes in that it’s time to get up. Yes, I am “my old body aches will not let me lie in bed years old.” I can remember my grandparents telling me that their bodies wouldn’t let them lie in bed all morning. I can finally relate. After getting up and letting the dogs out to do their morning business, I made coffee for myself and my husband and went about my daily routine.
About an hour later, I realized that the big dogs had not yet returned from their morning outing. Sophie, our 100+ lb beautiful, black Bouvier des Flandres, and Bear, our 85+ lb fawn Bouvier des Flandres, absolutely love this cooler weather. South Mississippi heat is tough on their fluffy butts. Almost two hours passed before they finally decided to grace us with their presence. We live in the middle of 80 acres with a creek running behind the house and a cow field with a pond north of the house. I figured they had taken a trip to the pond to chase geese. I figured wrong. They were slightly wet, but that wasn’t the problem. They stunk to high heaven! Oh my goodness, the smell was bad. Apparently, they decided to roll around in the cow field.
My husband had it fertilized about a month ago with chicken manure. It sounds strange, but it is an excellent source of fertilizer and produces the greenest, richest rye grass we have ever had…but the smell…it is awful! The smell is so bad the first couple of days that you can actually taste it. Fortunately for us, the dogs hadn’t seemed to notice they had a 25 acre field of stink to roll in…..until yesterday. What were we to do? I had to leave for work, and my husband had to hay the cows and head to New Orleans airport to pick up our eldest son. We decided that they would have to stay in the dog yard until we could give them a bath.
I had totally forgotten about the stinking pups as I went about my daily routine. It wasn’t until I drove up as the sun was almost completely out of sight and the coolness of night was approaching that I remembered I had two very stinking dogs to attend. This old girl knew it was too cold to bathe them outside. They would freeze, and so would I! I decided that I would put them in the shower with me one at a time. I would like to describe it as a leisurely experience, but I’d be lying. I laid towels all over the bathroom floor, took one stinking dog at a time, lathered them with Irish Spring soap, and rinsed them off, and then repeated it again just for good measure. By the time this event was complete, we had two squeaky clean, good smelling dogs and one exhausted dog mom. Exhausted…but not defeated! Fortunately for the dogs, they have a mom who loves them and wanted to be able to bring them into my home to enjoy all of the comforts that they are accustomed to…comforts they may not have deserved after getting that stink on them…but comforts that I want to give them nonetheless.
When I woke up this morning at 5:00, I began thinking about the previous day’s dog adventures. I have to admit that we are a lot like my dogs. No, we don’t wallow around in chicken poop fields and proudly display our stink, but oh my friends, we do wallow! We spend our days out in the world doing this and doing that, and we can’t help but let a little of the world rub off on us. If we aren’t careful, we are going to start smelling like the world. Unfortunately, that’s a smell that a hot shower and Irish Spring can’t fix. Today’s society tries to convince us that evil is good and good is evil, and if we aren’t careful, we will start believing the lies. We will begin tromping around in fields of chicken poop and not even realize that we are carrying around that gosh awful smell!
There is good news, my friends! It does not matter how stinky you have become, we have a God that can clean us right up. In Psalm 51, David is confessing his sins to God. He isn’t holding anything back. He lays it all on the table recognizing his sin and the filth that he has allowed himself to wallow in for far too long. It is clear to the reader of this scripture that David recognized the authority and power of a sovereign and forgiving Father. He knew that his sins could be forgiven. He appealed to the mercy and grace of a loving God. He didn’t ask to avoid the consequences of his sin. He merely asked for forgiveness. He asked for a clean heart, a renewed spirit, restoration of joy of salvation, a willingness to obey, and to remain in the presence of God. What an awesome prayer!
This morning, it doesn’t matter where you’ve been or what you have done. David was an adulteress, a deceiver, and even a murderer (he had Uriah killed). He recognized his sin and pleaded with God for forgiveness, and guess what? He was forgiven. It is really that simple. God doesn’t want us to wallow around in the chicken poop of the world, but He does realize that we are all going to get a little poop on us now and then. He doesn’t want us to remain out in the cold wrapped up in the stink of the world. He loves us so much that he wants to clean us up and wrap His loving arms around us. He can restore our joy, clean up our hearts, renew our spirit, and put us in the absolute best place in the world: the presence of the one true God! No, we don’t deserve it. We can’t earn it. But He gives us His love and mercy nonetheless. Are you washed clean?