1 Samuel 12:20 “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.
Computers have a handy dandy function called System Restore. Its purpose is to “undo harmful changes to your system and to restore its performance and settings.” This set up provides an easy fix when you’ve upset the mysterious critical balance inside a computer. It takes you back to a restore point, a time previous to the change. In effect, it’s as if that change had never happened. Somehow the slate, or hard drive, is wiped clean of the mistake.
I wish we had a restore point. I wish somehow we could go back to just before we said that mean thing, or did that spiteful, selfish or reckless deed, and restore our performance and settings. I’m not talking about time travel, because that’s much too complicated and the time/space continuum is too easily disrupted. (I know that from watching Star Trek.) When you perform a system restore, you don’t lose your recent work. Somehow the computer figures out the critical error and only makes an adjustment in that area. I’d like to reset my spirit without losing all my experiences and work, to the time just before I’d sinned. I’d like to be clean, innocent, unburdened, and unashamed.
Our instinct is to turn away from God when we know we’ve sinned. Adam and Eve tried to hide because of their guilt. Several years ago, during a visit with our eldest son and his family, my youngest granddaughter, not yet three, came to me crying. She lisped, “Sorry,” as she looked everywhere but at me. I took her little shoulders, turned her to me and asked her why she was saying sorry. She cried out, “Broke...lamp!”
We all know how she felt. When we’ve deliberately played with temptation and been carried away, out of control, the last thing we want to do is talk to God about it. It’s easy to put off or forget time with the Lord, when we know that confession must come first. We find excuses for not praying, or we let our work consume us. Our performance and settings do not function properly. In other words, we turn away.
In chapter twelve of 1 Samuel, the old prophet is giving his farewell speech. He leans quite heavily on the Israelites and speaks convincingly of the enormity of their sin in requesting a king. He reiterates how faithful God has been from the time he brought them out of
Egypt, through the conquest of the Promised
Land until now. They have taken their
eyes off God, and think a king will save them.
Samuel has them persuaded of their sin, and evidently their shame is evident - for he tells them, yes,
you’ve done all these evil things...but don’t turn away from God. Rather, jump in wholeheartedly and serve him
again. Even with a king, even with the
evidence of their sin in front of their eyes, he asked them to try again.
How can we do this? Only because of mercy, and by grace. Forgiveness is akin to a system restore. Here is the promise: If we confess , he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all the wrongs. In other words, He takes the critical error off our hard drive and wipes it clean. And it isn’t even kept in his memory so he can bring it up later and remind us. I think God knows that between us and Satan there is enough memory to go around. My husband says it well - Guilt is the gift that keeps on giving. But truly, our sin is remembered no more by the only one who has the right to forgive it. With confession, System Restore becomes a reality and we emerge clean, innocent, unburdened and unashamed.