Lenten Reader | Day 10

A Pure Heart

Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

Psalm 51:10-12
In my youth, I repeated these verses hundreds of times and can recite them by memory today. The verses weren’t a favorite Bible passage or significant to my spiritual development at the time. The Psalms were sung as a short hymn found in the Lutheran hymnal, and we sang them every week after the sermon. I have fond memories of that church, but I have to admit...I was always glad to reach that point of the service, at the end of what could be some long sermons! Thankfully, I’ve come to know the verses for more meaningful reasons over the years and through this exercise.

Psalm 51 is written by David after finally confessing his sins against the Lord (2 Samuel 12:13). The downward spiral that started with the seduction of Bathsheba, murder of Uriah, and subsequent cover up weighed heavy on David’s heart. Later David wrote that it was keeping silent that led to his bones growing old and groaning all the day long.

As a young adult, I found myself like David, holding on to guilt and shame for far too long. Although I may have asked for forgiveness, there wasn’t a cleansing or changing of the heart. It was too convenient to move on and repeat some of those sins absent a true relationship with Christ. In those moments, I cared more about myself and how I looked to others instead of what would be pleasing to God.

As pastor Jon reminded us in a recent sermon, our God has great patience. I’m so glad for that and for giving me the time to form a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Like all of us, I still sin but repent today with a changed heart and the faith that Christ died for those sins because I’ve come to know Him and His love.

Mark Erslan