Sometimes at night I find myself awake, wide awake, hopelessly awake. In these moments I am confronted with piercing clarity about past sins. I remember the stupidity of thinking I had a good reason to trust my flesh and ignore my God. I remember the allure of self-justification, of the fog of self-pity. Why could I not have had this awareness of the deceitful awfulness of sin forty years ago, twenty years ago, twenty hours ago?
In these moments I am also aware that I am the same pathetic creature of my past. The opening plea of Psalm 130 perfectly describes the state of my heart with eyes wide open in the bleakness of night.
From the depths of despair, O Lord,
I call for your help.
Hear my cry, O Lord.
Pay attention to my prayer.
Also in these moments, God, through the power of his Spirit’s written word, brings the mercy of his Son’s gracious sacrifice to my dark thoughts. He answers my prayer from Psalm 130. With even greater clarity the words of this Psalm speak again to my heart. I realize that the ugliness of what I am remembering has been wiped clean by the loving kindness of God.
Lord, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive?
But you offer forgiveness,
that we might learn to fear you.
These thoughts appear as new every time I think of them. God is faithful to bring them to me. When they come again, I have no great elation, no obvious outward emotion. Peace settles my awakened soul. Sleep comes quickly sometimes at night.