The Study Plans in my Bible app are another positive result of these advancements. As someone who is on their fourth lap through their personal Bible, I’ve been reading different selections in my Oxford Annotated Bible (used for my Religious Studies courses), so I can learn more of the history of that time and other interesting facts from the footnotes (which are sometimes longer than the passages themselves) that I wouldn’t learn from another version. The plans in the Bible app let me study different sections in light of different topics, and often with helpful devotionals. The first plan I completed was for depression, something I’ve battled for over a decade, and which was once again haunting me recently. Now I’m on a plan created by Pastor Rick Warren about hearing the voice of God when He speaks to you. I have found comfort and enlightenment in both plans, but the former plan happened to include what is possibly my favorite Psalm, and I felt I should post it for others, as it can speak to you and bring comfort in troubling times, as it has so often for me:
Have mercy on me,
because of your unfailing love.
Because of your great compassion,
blot out the stain of my sins.
Wash me clean from my guilt.
Purify me from my sin.
For I recognize my rebellion;
it haunts me day and night.
Against you, and you alone, have I sinned;
I have done what is evil in your sight.
You will be proved right in what you say,
and your judgement against me is just.
For I was born a sinner –
yes, from the moment my mother conceived me.
But you desire honesty from the womb,
teaching me wisdom even there.
Purify me from my sins,
and I will be clean;
wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Oh, give me back my joy again;
you have broken me –
now let me rejoice.
Don’t keep looking at my sins.
Remove the stain of my guilt.
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.
Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.
Forgive me for shedding blood, O God who saves;
then I will joyfully sing of your forgiveness.
Unseal my lips, O Lord,
that my mouth may praise you.
You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one.
You do not want a burnt offering.
The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.
Look with favor on Zion and help her;
rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit –
With burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings.
Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.
-Psalm 51 (NLT)
If you don’t already know it, here’s the backstory of that particular Psalm:
David wrote it after committing adultery with Bathsheba (the mother of Solomon). In fact, David had been so captivated upon seeing Bathsheba bathing on a roof that he ordered her soldier husband to the front lines of the battle, ensuring his death (probably some of the “shed blood” that he begs forgiveness for). Once her husband was dead, David claimed his prize and took Bathsheba for his own, but was obviously plagued by guilt over his actions.
After surviving my two hemorrhaged brain aneurysms, I spent a lot of time contemplating the various ways I’d racked up debt with Karma. And it wasn’t just all the damage I’d done to my own body. I may not have had a friend killed to get to her boyfriend, but I didn’t reject his advances, ultimately taking him as my own boyfriend, breaking the heart of a girl who was supposed to be my best friend at the time. She had been there for me during some very difficult times, when other friends had walked away from me, and I repaid her loyal kindness with betrayal and bitchiness. I often felt that in a way I saved her some trouble by taking that guy off her hands…I was the one who wound up going through a breakdown almost two years later when we broke up, and she never had to deal with his lies and douchebaggery. But really, there was no excuse for any of it, and I feel guilt for the way I treated her. I only hope that Jenny found better friends and has a happy life.
It wasn’t just Jenny I thought of as I lay in my hospital bed, and for months after. I’d spent years jerking my best friend Bryan back-and-forth and hurting him, although I wasn’t actively trying to do so…I was just stupid. I thought about the ex-boyfriends I had wronged and hurt in my immaturity, as well as people I had been less than nice to at school. I had never been a bully, having been bullied myself often in private school, but there were still people I didn’t need to be such a bitch to. Some people needed it, others not so much.
I knew that there was nothing I could do to make up for my past failings, though…in fact I kind of hoped that those I had wronged would feel they had gotten some retribution when they heard what had happened to me. If it makes them feel any better, Karma keeps tabs on me. I knew that the best thing I could do was pray and ask for forgiveness for the wrongs I had done throughout my life, and to try to do better from here on out. That is why I love that Psalm, and have it marked with a different color tab in my Bible so I can always easily find it.
Anyone who has ever regretted something they did wrong, and regretted disappointing God in the process, can sympathize with how David felt when he composed that Psalm. You want the “stain” of your stupid mistakes erased from your record, and to start over again as a better person. In the same way it hurts more to disappoint your father than anger him, it hurts more to disappoint your Heavenly Father by doing something other than what He would have you do.
The beauty that I’ve found in my own study of God’s Word and soul-searching is the loving forgiveness He continually gives us. Like the Prodigal Son and the one sheep out of 100 who strayed away, God will be even more overjoyed to regain those of His children who have sinned and gone astray from Him. He will always lovingly welcome you with open arms when you ask for forgiveness, joyous that you have returned. We are unworthy of His forgiveness, but in His forgiveness He deems us worthy of His love. Since I first felt God’s love and hand through my own survival of the impossible, His unfailing love has brought tears to my eyes many times. I only wish I could transfer that feeling to others who still have doubts that He’s there.