“…Turn away your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit in my inward parts. Cast me not away from your presence; and remove not your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation: establish me with your governing Spirit. I will teach transgressors your ways; and the ungodly shall turn to you.” (Ps 50/51: 9-13, Septuagint-translation)

I do not need to “get all good,” if that were even possible, to have communion with God. His life-giving Spirit gives me life even in my sin. But He opens to me a fuller life, a more useful, renewed life, when I turn away from that sin, just as God is willing to “turn His face away” from my sins. That’s the whole message of this pre-Lenten season: Turning away from “the bad” within me, and renewing “the good,” which is also within me, the bad notwithstanding. That’s why in Western Christianity people wear costumes at the pre-Lenten “carnival” celebrations, to signalize their willingness to be transformed, to change.

The “bad” that is within me, because I’ve embraced it, time and again, does not stop God from abiding and working in me, because He is willing to descend even into our darkest hell to renew us, in His undying faith in us. He is also willing to “turn away His face” from our sins, time and again, continuing to create through us and among us, so we and other “ungodly turn to Him.”

So let me not be discouraged, however “bad” my state of affairs may be at the moment, and embrace the renewal God has on offer. “Restore to me the joy of your salvation: establish me with your governing Spirit.”

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