How to Approach God, and What Happens When You Do

Psalm 32

Most people don’t think about God beyond an afterthought or a desperate prayer in a tight situation.  In other words, we as humans are inclined to selfish behavior, but occasionally we hurt just enough to make a pathetic effort to communicate with God.

God loves when we do this.

Psalm 32 begins with a pair of blessings: for those who are forgiven of sin, and for those who are not deceitful. (v. 1-2) Being a deceiver is a character issue and is correctable — just don’t be a jerk. However, we have no jurisdiction over whether or not God will hold us accountable for our mistakes.We can’t “fix” it. This requires us to have a particular approach to God.  Skipping to God with a big grin on your face (figuratively, of course) thinking He owes us something for being alive is ludicrous. The remainder of the Psalm lets us know how it’s supposed to be done.

Speak up. (v. 3-4) God knows your thoughts.  However, we show Him no desire to change our lives if we aren’t willing to say something. Too many Christians “wait” for the Lord in the wrong way — they sit and hope God shows up like.  As ridiculous as this sounds, waiting requires pro-activity.  Otherwise, as David describes, the burden of what we want to tell God grows heavier — our “bones [waste] away” and our “strength [is] sapped”. Our communication doesn’t have to be out loud, but it should be a legitimate attempt.

Acknowledge you messed up.  (v. 5) When my brother once cut the cat’s whiskers, he explained the scissors had slipped in order to cover his shame.  I also omitted the fact that I’d put him up to it. It takes an attitude of humility to acknowledge sin to God, because you’re both admitting you’re wrong and positioning yourself as inferior to God. This is a good place to be, because He says He will forgive the guilt of your sin in addition to clearing your name.  Right on.

Dismiss self-reliance. (v. 6-7) When you’ve asked God to put away your sin, God looks to prevent further damage. “Surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them,” David writes, indicating that your house is permanently impervious to floods, no matter where you live.  I’m kidding. The metaphor is death; you’re not going to die.  Not physically.  Everyone does that. Forgiveness of sin means life forever in heaven. No dying spiritually. But that means it’s not up to you anymore.  So stop trying so hard.

Don’t be stubborn when He tries to change you. (v. 8-10) If you are bold enough to encounter God, expect Him to have a dramatic impact on your life. Jesus isn’t a joke, despite the volumes of mockery and indifference this world promotes. Imitating God’s character, David writes that he will instruct, teach, and counsel those who are forgiven, with his “loving eye on you.”  He follows up with a stubborn mule illustration to indicate we shouldn’t resist His direction.  We’re so stubborn, in fact, that we need to be controlled.  While this seems unpleasant, it’s the best way to go, because, like a mule, we’re more likely to fall into a pit or get hit by a car without direction.

Forgiveness isn’t automatic, and it isn’t like a vending machine.  Fortunately, it’s also not like those really frustrating claw machines where you have to get the stupid thing to pick up a stuffed animal, and you know the people that make it are robbing you because the claw gives out just as it goes to grip the awesome Spongebob toy you’ve already spent $3.50 trying to grab. There’s probably a surveillance camera attached somewhere, pointing directly at the pained expression on each sucker’s face as they continue to pump quarters into this heathen contraption, and a bunch of fat guys are watching just for a cheap laugh between sessions of counting their millions.

I’m glad Jesus isn’t that cheap.  He put His entire life to shame and death to help us avoid a tragic ending of our own.  While walking home with my baby from the coffee shop today, I had a “hero daydream” (if you’re a dude, you know what I’m talking about) where I imagined a car blowing a four-way stop, and in a split-second, I saw the jerk coming and pushed the stroller across the street just in time before getting hit. Well, Jesus did pretty much the same thing — putting His life on the line so we didn’t have to. I hope today is the day you make the decision to let Jesus take over.

This song describes the intense passion and love He has for us, if you’re into hardcore rock:

If that doesn’t do it for you, or if it’s just too much screaming, I understand. Try this on for size:

Thank you, and have a nice day.

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