February 16, 2018

By Rev. Daesung Chun, East Whittier UMC, East District

Psalm 51:10, 12

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me…Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

The story of David and Bathsheba is a well-known one. David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband Uriah to cover up his sin. His morals, scruples, and ethics were set aside to satisfy his selfish desire. Each time we read the story it is difficult not to cringe by the brutal and sly act of a covetous man. This was not a sin of impulse. It was calculated, secretly planned, carefully plotted, and clandestinely executed. David put great effort into concealing his sin. No one was supposed to know about this. But when the prophet Nathan revealed David’s sins before him, both adultery and murder, David realized he could not hide anything from the Lord. As I read this story I cannot ignore the thought that David confessed his sins only because he was confronted. Had he not been confronted, would he have confessed of his sins and repented?

I suppose David wrote Psalm 51 sometime after he was confronted by the prophet Nathan and not on the day of the confrontation. After being confronted by the prophet, David must have been consumed by shame and guilt. Although David was told his sins were forgiven (2 Samuel 12:13) David must have continued to carry his guilt. Each time he saw Bathsheba he must have remembered what he had done to Uriah. Guilty feelings die hard. I can imagine the guilt of his sins abased him, and the cowardice of hiding his sins shamed him. I am sure he wished he had never done that. But his wish could not change the past. The only thing that could be changed was his heart and his future. David pleaded for a new heart, a clean heart so that the new heart may lead him to do the righteous things. Like David, we all need a new heart — a clean heart that will lead us to do the righteous and compassionate acts. The heart is what controls our deeds and our attitude is what controls our heart. As we seek to have a new heart, we need to have a new attitude.

Marilyn has been attending the church I currently serve. Unfortunately, she has Parkinson’s disease. She cannot eat anything solid and has some difficulty with her movement. Despite her condition, Marilyn demonstrates a positive attitude and sweet spirit. One day she appeared to be more tired than other days, so I asked her how she was. With a bright smile she said, “Oh there are good days, and …” I expected her to say, “There are good days and bad days” or something similar. But she said, “Oh there are good days and better days. Today is one of those good days.” There is an eminently sweet and positive spirit in her that warms my heart. When a day is difficult, she says, “It is a good day” and accepts the challenges of the day with grace. And when a day is good, she celebrates it with joy and thankfulness.

As we seek for a new heart in this Lenten season, let us choose to have a new attitude. After all, “Some days are good, and other days are better.”

Prayer: O Lord, grant us a new heart to accept the challenges of the day with grace and celebrate the blessings with thankfulness. Grant us wisdom to know that all the experiences in life are your gifts. The challenges bring us close to you; and the blessings your joy. O Lord, we thank you for this day and all that comes with it. Amen.