The Drama of Dust
"Create in me a clean heart, O God, And renew a steadfast spirit within me."
This Psalm was written by David, after Nathan the prophet has come to him in the wake of his adultery with Bathsheba and subsequent murder of her husband. Nathan tells him a story, an allegory, asking for judgement. When he proposes harsh penalties, Nathan says: "You are that man."
Haunting words indeed.
When I think about creation, it's usually with a very positive slant. I think about God creating the earth, all shiny and new and good. I think about my own attempts at artwork, writing or stir-fry. I don't think about sin.
The Message expresses the same verse this way:
"God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life."
God created the world out of nothing. He spoke and the birds were formed and began to sing, he placed the fish in the sea and planted apple trees and grape vines. He formed man in his image, out of dust. He breathed life into body. His body.
But all that was before sin.
That was before David and his sin, and me and mine. And perhaps what we have to offer is a bit of dust. It's dirty, even shameful in the way it's built up. I stand with David and hold out a handful of dust and ask God to create a clean heart in me.
Of course, David was before 1 Corinthians 5:17: "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." Not only am I in possession of a new heart, but I am an entirely new creation because I am in Christ.
Based on this, it seems to me that God must still be in the business of creation. And it doesn't look like He's just working with brand new things. He strikes me as a mixed-media artist, finding us where we are, finding beauty in us, and bringing that beauty to the surface. He is not concerned with my dust, as if He cannot do anything with me.
I look around at my life, sometimes, especially in the sort of place I'm in right now. Things seem broken and chaotic and awfully dusty. I find myself saying "God, make a fresh start in me, shape a Genesis week from the chaos of my life."
I'm beginning to wonder if the difference between that week of creation and my life is that I get to watch. Sometimes the work seems slow. But there are times when God paints a wide, gracious stroke across my life and I see glimmers of my new heart and my renewed spirit.
This encourages me as I move to create. This act is holy, in a way, but that doesn't mean it isn't messy. I mostly work with words, bringing imperfect things together, hoping for a result that speaks the truth.
This is what God does with His church, is it not?
I am helpless against my hard heart, the one that is so desperately wicked. But God is not. He has given me His blood to reanimate it every time it stops. He has not given up on creating me.
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