Today’s Bible readings can be found online here: Proverbs 3:1-18 and Luke 18:1-17.

Luke 18:13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ (NRSV)

Do you ever have one of those days when you feel as though you’ve taken a wrong turn, done something stupid, or been very selfish? Me, too. I don’t know how you personally cope with those kinds of days, but they sometimes make me feel as though I can’t approach God for any help, hope, or healing. My foolish mistake or sinful act separates me from God, and so my pride or shame won’t let me immediately turn to Him for pardon, grace, or restoration. It’s as if I’m angry with myself or feel as though I’m wasting God’s precious time. However, at some crucial point, I reluctantly traipse back to Him like the tax collector in today’s verse, hang my head in shame, and mumble a plea for forgiveness.

Almost immediately, I experience a sense of relief and of being reconnected to God. I know I don’t deserve His gracious love, but I am very glad to receive it. By forgiving my sin, God restores me to His delight; by pardoning my mistake, I not only feel better, but I want to do things better for God and His Kingdom. To be forgiven is a precious gift that I hope I will never take for granted; to be restored to God’s favor is a wonderful way to begin my life again.

Perhaps you are feeling burdened by past mistakes, sinful deeds, or personal failures. Maybe you’ve been carrying a whole boatload of guilt that is keeping you back from reconnecting with God. Or perhaps you just feel as though you’ve disappointed God and can’t approach Him for mercy or restoration. Please do not despair: God’s grace is far bigger than any or all of our sins; God’s love is far greater than any mistakes we have made. He allows us to ask for forgiveness, not because He wants to shame us, but because He wants to restore us and reconnect with our hearts and spirits. In other words, we may be great sinners, but Christ is an even greater Savior than all of our sins combined.

Point to ponder: What is my deepest regret or costliest mistake? Am I willing to bring this to God in prayer and ask for forgiveness?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, You know us completely and are aware of everything we have foolishly or sinfully done. You ask us to come to You for mercy to give us the gift of God’s grace. We are truly thankful and totally humbled by Your merciful ways. In Your Holy Name, we joyfully pray. Amen.

Today’s image is one of John’s worship drawings for Transfiguration Sunday. If you would like to view a larger version, please click here.