Rarely, in a book or movie, is the hero my favorite character. Most often I like the quirky sidekick or the damaged villain more than the main guy or gal. I like the characters who own and even embrace their flaws and a well-written backstory is sure to suck me in. And, if I’m being honest, most of the time I find more in common with these off-kilter characters than the ones poised to save the day.
Today I was reading in the Psalms and found myself once again looping myself into a category with the villains instead of the heroes.
May God arise, may his enemies be scattered;
may his foes flee before him.
May you blow them away like smoke—
as wax melts before the fire,
may the wicked perish before God.
But may the righteous be glad
and rejoice before God;
may they be happy and joyful.
Psalm 68:1-3 (NIV)
In this passage, the psalmist has made a distinction between two groups: enemies of God and friends of God (the righteous). I was so struck by the image created in the first verse of this psalm – what an epic action movie showdown this would be!
The scene is dark, all hope is lost, evil is running amok, destroying everything in its path. Then God shows up; his presence rising far off in the distance like a sunrise. His light breaks through the shadows of the billowing darkness all around. And, within his rays, it’s revealed that there’s a remnant of people who are righteous who have been faithfully waiting and warring on his behalf, waiting for his perfectly timed arrival. Those who are aligned with evil scatter like vermin. The ones who once seemed so powerful are no longer intimidating in the presence of the Almighty.
But here I am, feeling as though I’m caught in the middle. Part of me is filled with darkness, the black muck covering parts of my body, revealing the sin and shame found within. And part of me is radiating brightly, reflecting the warm, yellow gold coming from my Creator.
This is where I am: called righteous, my slate wiped clean by the blood of Jesus, yet still enticed by sin and darkness. I am pure and spotless because of the free gift of God, but I still find myself covered in blemishes. I was an enemy of God; I hated him for years, but now I’m counted as righteous though I don’t deserve it.
I am righteous by faith and guilty in deed.
Today my prayer has been for my sin to be scattered. I long for the parts of me that want to do evil and turn away from good to be silenced. I asked for strength to continue to step toward the light and into God’s loving embrace. Today was a day of repentance and further dependence on God.
I encourage you, whether you believe you belong in the righteous category, the unrighteous category, or somewhere in between, to call out to God and accept his love and his kindness today.