"Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord" This psalm is an invitation to turn and cry to the Lord, to ask him where we have, knowingly or unknowingly, made a bed for ourselves in the depths. It starts off in a place that I know all too well-- a place of my own making, where I can't blame anyone else for my position. It's often a place we never thought we would get to, a place we thought we were good enough, smart enough, cunning enough, charming enough, beautiful enough to avoid. Do you know that place for you? For me, it's been several places, different in various seasons of life. Sometimes, it's a place where I have seen at others in that place and thought, "thank goodness I'm not them. I'll never get that bad". It's why we love to watch shows like Catfish, My 600-LB Life, Hoarders, The Bachelor-- shows that make us feel better about where we are, where we can compare ourselves to someone else and say "well at least I'm not there". And then-- we find ourselves there. Maybe not being Catfished, or 600 pounds, or wreaking emotional havoc on network television. But we find ourselves in places where we never thought we'd get-- depths we never knew we'd reach.
Those places are so scary. And what's even scarier is how long we can avoid coming face to face with the depths-- with our sin. We resist going to the place where our sin is rooted deepest in us at all costs. It is so difficult to look squarely at the pits we have dug, to see just how vast our sin is, and how much it entangles our lives. It's also a point of pride. Even if we do see the depths of it, we pridefully think we can pull ourselves out of it. In Texas, we are proud to people who "pull themselves up by their own bootstraps". As Americans, the epitome of the American Dream is reached by personally triumphing over tragedy. But if I see my sin and still think that I can pull myself up and triumph over it on sheer will and determination alone--I don't truly see how deep my sin is.
Ironically, I think that our sin is often the thing we think about the most, an all-consuming thing that, rather than cry out for help, we let it rule our lives. We see it, but not as sin-- we see it as something we justify or rationalize, a problem that we can conquer.
Perhaps this is too vulnerable to share. I have resisted pressing "send" all day because of this paragraph. But I know what that one of the pits that I have dug myself into is my body image. It's a pit that started being dug in the 5th grade PE locker room, when I said, "oh, I'm so fat", hoping that my self-proclamation of dissatisfaction would help me fit in with the "cool" kids. (Why do we so often equate "coolness" with deprecation, whether of self or others? For another time). That pit is deep, and wide, and dark. Sure, I've had seasons where I've filled it in a little, where I've seen the light a little more, where I've intentionally re-ordered my eating or exercise habits, been kinder when I look in the mirror, put effort into other areas to help me see myself in a better light. But mainly, I've justified things and rationalized circumstances to make myself feel better. It's one of those pits that I've been too prideful to cry out to God from, because I know that no one else has created it but me, and the only way I'm getting out of it is by crying out to God for mercy that I don't deserve, but desperately want.
Maybe you know what that pit is for you today, and maybe you don't. Perhaps it's a bad financial situation you've gotten into, or a bad relationship you've let get worse, or a judgmental spirit that causes you to gossip and judge everyone around you. You know what it is for you. Are you willing to look at the awful, ugliness of it? To see clearly what sin you've let creep into your life and dictate it? To understand just how fully you and I need to be saved from ourselves?
Getting to the place where we know we need to cry out to God, to face our sin in such a way that we realize only God can ever be the one to help us out, it is scary. I cannot and will not lie to you about that. It requires us to give up idols that we have made-- idols that we love, and cherish, and think are our solution to our problems. It causes me to take a look at the ugliness in my heart, and see it for what it is: SIN. And it takes humility I don't want to have, when I admit that my depths were carved out by me, not anyone else.
When we are willing to take the steps to confront our sin and plead before God for rescue-- he is faithful, attentive, and merciful to meet us. "If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord who could stand?" Absolutely none of us. I had a conversation at church just yesterday, about people who are nervous to attend because of choices and situations in their life that make them feel "guilty" when they are in a worship service. The person who was giving me advice said, "tell your friend-- if any of us stayed home because of our sin, the pews would be empty". We don't go to church because we are well, but to be HEALED. We don't reach out to God to demonstrate to him we can do it on our own. We reach out because we know that we can't.
God does not leave us in the pit where we are. Because of Jesus, he does not hold our sins against us (Thank GOODNESS!). He does however, often use our sin to show us our need for Him. The rescue may not look exactly like we want it to-- but that does not mean we give up hope. One of my favorite hymns I learned in college is called "From the Depths of Woe", written by Martin Luther and re-arranged by Indelible Grace. SIn is not something to take lightly, but neither is grace. Our pits of sin are so deep and serious, we need a deep and serious grace to rescue us from it.
Our sin is more awful and real and deep than we are often willing to imagine. But Jesus is also bigger, and better, and more merciful than we imagine. We'll keep talking about what this means this week, but for today's closing, listen to the lyrics of this song: