Yesterday was a long and tiring day as we spent it moving some dear friends into the apartment above our own. It really looked like it was going to be a straight-forward move having already moved a lot of their things into our garage the day before. With only the major appliances and some furniture to load and unload I thought we would finish by noon hour. Then we saw the condition of the apartment we were moving them into and I knew this would be an all day affair.
The lady who lived above me for the last two years was a single mom of three boys who struggled with a good sense of reality. Perhaps that is a bit unfair considering everyone has their own reality, but I am referring to the reality God has given us to anchor ourselves to. I did not realize until yesterday that she worked two jobs and was only ever home for short periods of time. This left a lot of the house duties and babysitting up to the eldest son. I really wish I had known this before yesterday. Perhaps it explained some of the absolute disaster we found up there yesterday.
The apartment was so bad that no one could stay in it very long due to the smell. There was broken furniture everywhere, clothes, old food, diapers, grease everywhere, trash, trash and even more trash. The landlord came and almost started crying. He took a team of my friends into the bathroom to clean while a few of the rest of us attacked the kitchen. By 6:30 PM, after non-stop cleaning a lugging, we had our friends moved in to a clean apartment and we were all thankful for it.
Now a lot could be said about that woman and probably was said yesterday; she had a lot of problems. However, we don't know what her day was like let alone her life. All we saw yesterday were some symptoms of deeper problems and what is the sense of getting upset at the symptoms if we are not going to address the problem. I look at the speck from yesterday and it reminds me of the piece of lumber I have to deal with. Perhaps this lady fell short in some areas of her life but there are a number of issues in my own.
Then this morning I read Psalm 26 and almost fell off my chair. It is a Psalm of David and he writes:
Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have led a blameless life. (Psalm 26:1)
Say what? A blameless life? Really? David messed up so many times it is hard to count. Perhaps the two things that stick out the most for us is his adultery and murder that he committed. Blameless? But this is where we and God don't see eye to eye on certain things. Our idea of blameless is different than his and what he considers important is basically a secondary thought to us. Let's let David finish saying what he is saying here:
Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
without wavering. (Psalm 26:1)
This is where the real strength is found; it is in the relationship David had with God. He was just a man so he was still prone to sin and as king, when he sinned it was usually in a spectacular manner. Nobody cared if "Joe" the farmer committed adultery but when it was the king everyone was talking about it. And rightfully so because he was God's chosen leader, held up for public inspection. It did not mean he was perfect; it was impossible for him to be perfect. But David trusted God and when God said that he was forgiven David believed him. David repented with all sincerity and he trusted that as forgiveness was given that it was dealt with. David never seemed to go back and revisit those sins, he did not wallow in his mistakes, he did not handcuff himself by his past. He trusted God:
Test me, O LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth. (Psalm 26:2-3)
David is not famous for living a perfect life but he is admired for his unbridled love of God. When he invited the Lord to examine him note that it was to examine his heart and mind. God was the occupier of both. David failed in many areas but he did not fail in his love of God and this love propelled him into dealing with his sins and weaknesses. They were never left unchecked but David was often too weak to avoid them. However, his one passion always shone through:
I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, O LORD,
proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
I love the house where you live, O LORD,
the place where your glory dwells. (Psalm 26:6-8)
Jesus came to save us from David's struggles, freeing us from the bondage of sin, making it so that we do not have to sin any more. We don't have to but sometimes we do and we praise Jesus for his mercy and grace. But one thing we should never fail in is our love, passion, and zeal for Jesus Christ. It is as we realize how much he loves and has forgiven us that we are also able to love and forgive others.
We know the actions of the lady who used to live upstairs. We know she wasn't the best neighbour but she was trying to support her children. We know she was not very respectful toward people, especially the landlord. We know that her actions did not match her words when she claimed to be a Christian. But we don't know her experiences, her struggles or her heart toward God. I do know that I love Jesus with all my heart and still mess up. I know that there are people in this world who do not think I am a very good Christian because they saw me at some of those moments. They have no idea of my repentence and forgiveness or of my very strong relationship with Jesus. But because I know that I have not always done what I should have done it is hard for me to judge someone else knowing what Jesus has done for me.
I do know that God's love is so fantastic that I can trust his promise of forgiveness. And like David I have no problem in allowing God to cover me in his grace and mercy. I do not suffer from living in my past because I know who my God is. So, if this is what I apply to myself I will also apply it to others. We choose to bless this dear lady who used to live upstairs. We bless her in her jobs that she would be prosperous in them. We bless her in her relationship with her children, that these relationships would remain strong and healthy. We bless her in her relationships with her neighbours and new landlord, that she would be a blessing to them. And we pray that her heart would be freed by the forgiveness and love of the Lord. Thank you Lord for loving us as you do.