Scripture: Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. 2 Wash me clean from my guilt. Purify me from my sin.
3 For I recognize my rebellion; it haunts me day and night. 4 Against you, and you alone, have I sinned; I have done what is evil in your sight. You will be proved right in what you say, and your judgment against me is just. 5 For I was born a sinner — yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me — now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you. [Psalm 51:1-13 NLT]
Have you ever jumped off the roof of a house into a snow drift? I can say that I have. Growing up in southwestern Michigan there was no lack of snow to experience moments like this. I remember going down some pretty major hills on toboggan trails and having hours of fun in the snow. One of my favorite memories was the way the yard looked immediately after a fresh snowfall. I used to love looking out over the new snow and seeing it blanket everything. The snow was completely undisturbed and it was pure white for as far as you could see. This is the memory that hits my mind when I hear the words of the psalmist asking God to “purify me from my sins and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
In my experience snow is very white. When a fresh snowfall hits your yard, the hills and woods, and even the ski slopes in is crisp and white. So white that you need to make sure you are wearing sunglasses if you are out in that environment for very long. This is why the words of the psalmist stand out to me so much. The author says God will make him “whiter than snow” and that is amazing to me. It is as if the author is asking us to think of the whitest, most pure thing we can imagine. Once we have that image in our mind the author says you will be whiter than that.
The implication is that before God purifies us and makes us clean, whiter than snow, we are marred by sin. It is not a pretty sight. We are covered in our own selfish desires, our own need to be right, our desire to control our own life and situations. All of this separates us from God and makes us stained by our own sin. One of the reasons Lent is so important in the life of the church is the time we spend intentionally reflecting on the fact that we are stained human beings and God’s ability to make us clean, whiter than snow. We realize that we cannot be pure, or holy, apart from God. We also realize that with God we have the ability to be purified, clean, and whiter than snow.
Today take an inventory of the sins to which you are still clinging. Where do you prefer your plans over God’s plans? What do you know you shouldn’t watch, listen to, or do and yet you watch it, listen to it, or do it anyway? Make a decision today to ask God to purify you in these areas; to make you clean, whiter than snow. Take a few moments before you go to bed tonight and meditate on what God did with you today. Did God purify you? Was there anything different about today and the way you interacted with God and other people? I believe there will be! To God be all honor, glory, and praise!
Prayer: God, you are Holy and you long to make me holy as well. You won’t force me to be holy. You wait for me to seek your holiness in my life. I want to be holy as you are holy. Purify me and make me clean. Cleanse me of my sins and make me whiter than snow. Amen.