“As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.” Psalm 103:12 (NKJV)
“Dear Father in heaven, I’m not a praying man, but if You’re up there and You can hear me, show me the way. I’m at the end of my rope” For those of you who have seen the movie “It’s a Wonderful Life” you’ll remember this moment in Martini’s when George Bailey realizes that there’s nothing he can do about his situation. Maybe some of you will remember the infamous punch in the chops he got. I remember what he said after he was helped up off the floor. “You know what? That’s what I get for praying.” Yeah…I’ve been there.
And while I was at that moment in my life this movie was on heavy rotation on the television. Every time I would wake up from the stupor that I was putting myself in, the scene where George is on the bridge and cries out “Please God. I wanna live again” would be on, and just like that everything just got better. Yay for him. The richest man in town? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, And never brought to mind? That a boy Clarence. BAH!! HUMBUG!!
To this day I have the absolute roughest time watching this movie. It’s viewing in my home has been banned for life by me. Why? Because it is the toughest reminder about the man I once was and I can’t stand to look back on him.
While my daughter, Karen, was visiting us during Christmas, she and I had gotten into a conversation about a popular comedian and the current president. I commented on how the comedian lost some of his credibility when he called his own neighbors “cry babies.” Karen was quick to fire back and remind me about how the president made a pretty vulgar statement about women. Alrighty Then!! Point taken but it got me thinking about how quick we are to remind others around us about the wrong they’ve done and not how they may have been forgiven for it. I’m very grateful that this isn’t how God works.
King David probably had himself some pretty tough reminders on those moments where he failed. However, in Psalm 103:1-14 he’ll remind all of us on the amazing promise of God’s FULL pardon. You’ll need to turn to it yourself to see what I mean but I think you’ll agree that the Psalm should be titled “Don’t Look Back.” Yeah, I know that sometimes we do tend to look back but if you’re someone who runs track then you know that looking back does three things to you. It breaks your concentration, disrupts the flow of physical motion, it slows you down, and in the life of the believer, looking back in the past may be bringing us defeat in the present. This would make walking with Jesus kinda hard.
I’ll admit that during my own “natural reaping from seeds sown in the past” I’ll kick myself in that pants, see things in the way they went wrong and get a case of the “woulda, shoulda, coulda’s.” But reading this passage from Psalm 103 gives me the provision of an understanding of three things that happen. God saves us, God forgives us, and God delivers us. There isn’t anything in that formula that says anything different and the end result is quite simple…grace and mercy.
“He does not punish us for all our sins; He does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve. For His unfailing love toward those who fear Him is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.” (Psalm 103:10-11)
Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve—stuff like hope, forgiveness, purpose, maybe a new family, a relationship with Him (that’s certain) and good guidance for life. Mercy is God sparing us from what we truly deserve—judgement, punishment, retribution, purposelessness and a new address in hell (or maybe one in Pottersville at the very least).
Ya know, I wouldn’t wanna be like the popular comedian or the current president that I mentioned earlier. Because at this moment in history, I feel they can’t really see the forest for the trees. That can happen to some folks but to be like George Bailey…maybe I need to re-examine that. The sheer joy of restoration is on full display as George runs through Bedford Falls and even though I realize that this only a movie, I get a little jealous of George (alright, a lot) but I digress. I’ll take who I am now because I know whose I am.
Before I close let me to tell you, I’m that guy on the bridge and when restoration happened, I shared in the joy of being made anew. If you’re reading this, and need the same, all ya gotta do is yell out “I wanna live again” and surrender to Jesus. Then, “we’ll take a cup of kindness yet, for auld lang syne” and praise God that we get to. Amen?
Written by Chris Hughes: Chris is a husband, a father, has an education in Biblical doctrine and is a graduate of The Colony of Mercy. He has been a Freedom Fighter contributor since 2008. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org