Wiped Clean

“The Clearing,” © Lynn Abbott Studios. Used with Permission.

© 2018 Lynn Abbott

To most people, the painting appeared successful.  But as its creator, I knew what lurked beneath the surface.

The composition had radically departed from my vision for it.  Portions of the painting exhibited the wrong values…in art speak, values refer to the dark or light tones of a piece.

Sometimes, for one reason or another, a canvas and particular brand of paint don’t play well together. In this case, one area of the canvas had “seized” the paint.   That part of the composition had definitely assumed an overly dark tone.

It had gone rogue.

Then, there had been the cover-up.  An unsuccessful one at that.

Yup.  You see, buried under globs of gooey oil paint, the darkness remained.

No one else might recognize it, but I knew…

That part of the painting had defied my vision, my purpose and plan for its greatness, beauty and glory.

I also recognized the remedy for its rebellion.

So I picked up a rag that had been soaked in Turpenoid, and wiped the offending area clean.

The composition had gone rogue.

It couldn’t be helped.  The wrong values would never succeed.  The foundation must be corrected. And no amount of overlaid paint would fix it.

Had I not cleaned that area of canvas, I ultimately would have found it necessary to remove the entire painting from public view and use.

After all, it did not accurately reflect its Creator and it certainly didn’t measure up to its potential.

Thus, I worked to clean the canvas; to wipe away every trace of the offending and poorly placed value; to restore the composition’s original potential and beauty.

That’s right. At times, life imitates art.

As I  reworked the canvas, my thoughts wandered to my recent readings in Samuel and Kings.  And you betcha… David immediately came to mind.

David, God’s beloved composition, moved in the wrong direction.  He not only made a poor choice, he rebelled against his Creator.

In 2 Samuel 11,  David embraced dark values when he not only slept with Bathsheba, the wife of one in his inner circle, but also arranged to have his faithful friend conveniently assassinated in order to cover up the deed.

God, however, sees past cover-ups. He always has and always will.

Who can forget His pointed questions to the first couple in the garden, “Where are you?” and later, “Who told you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Genesis 3:9, 11).

And Adam replied, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

Indeed, sin makes us vulnerable.  But apart from the Creator, the canvas is helpless to correct the situation.  Thus, we attempt a cover-up.  Humanity’s modus operandi has changed little since the garden.

At times, life imitates art.

But while heavy paint might successfully hide darkness from the majority, the Creator always knows what’s beneath the surface.  For this reason, God sent Nathan the prophet to do a little clean up and to expedite David’s restoration.

Most are familiar with David’s story. But what especially impresses me is David’s honest and humble response to Nathan’s correction.  After all, David’s predecessor had disobeyed God as well, but his response to Samuel’s rebuke contrasts greatly with David’s.

Like Adam and Eve, Saul made excuses for his disobedience; he even blamed his people.

David, on the other hand, said, “I have sinned against the LORD,” (2 Samuel 12:13).

In this, we find the answer to a question some might be tempted to ask,”How could God call David ‘a man after God’s heart’ after the Bathsheba fiasco?”

The plain and simple truth is…David genuinely repented.

I dunno about you, but I find tremendous comfort in David’s outcome.  Although natural and negative consequences followed despite David’s “broken and contrite” spirit, God nevertheless declared David forgiven, (2 Samuel 12:13b).

In addition, David  remained on the throne.  He was still God’s man.

Eager to know more about David’s life after sin, I  skipped ahead a few books to the book of Psalms.  And there, I found the expression of David’s grief and repentence.

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love…Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me and I will be whiter than snow,” (Psalm 51:1-2; 7).

Then,  in Psalm 103, David recounts God’s forgiveness: “Praise the LORD, O my soul…He does not treat us as our sins deserve…For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us,” (Psalm 103:1; 10-12).

The plain and simple truth is…David genuinely repented.

As far as the east is from the west… That’s certainly an interesting comparison.

It’s significant that he didn’t say “as far as north is from south.”  North and South on this ole’ globe have definite points of destination–the North and South poles.

But east and west?  The longitude line that separates them is simply an agreed-upon– albeit arbitrary choice–made by cartographers and geographers.

In truth, we could circle the globe continuously and not find a distinct point differentiating east from west.

David’s description, then, perfectly illustrates God’s love and grace as demonstrated toward His beloved children.

As John wrote in his epistle, once we have “confessed our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness,” (1 John 1:9).

And David assures us that Abba removes the dark spot as far as the east is from the west…

The Creator permanently wipes rebellion’s stain from the canvas; the composition is once more “blameless” or in right standing.

David understood his Sovereign-Shepherd’s love forgiveness first-hand.   And he trusted God for the long-haul.

Without a doubt, God’s perfect love “casts out fear,” ( 1 John 4:18). In fact, although David’s sin resulted in some extremely difficult family dynamics, he humbly accepted his circumstances and placed his life in God’s hands (2 Samuel 15).

Saul, on the other hand, continually tried to dodge the consequences of his sin.  In his unrepentant state, Saul even consulted a medium, the Witch of Endor.

Without a doubt, fear characterized Saul’s life from the moment he refused to humbly confess his sin.

David, however, trusted God.  And despite his sin, David’s life and reign became the Scriptural standard by which all other kings of Israel and Judah were judged.

In this,  I find incredible hope.  Although my life’s canvas may be darkened by sin, God stands ready with the remedy.  And in response to my genuine confession, He removes the dark values that threaten the beauty of His ongoing work in my life.

Yes, He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west.  And you and I can be sure that He will restore and transform the composition of our lives.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him,” ~Psalm 103:12-13