By Dr. J. Perkins
Psalm 51-5-19

Andraé Crouch knew something about this sense of brokenness when our sin takes us into a faraway land. His song “Take Me Back” is beautiful in expressing what it feels like when our friendship with God is broken:

I feel that I’m so far from you Lord

But still I hear you calling me

Those simple things that I once knew

Their memories keep drawing me.

I must confess, Lord I’ve been blessed

But yet my soul’s not satisfied.

Renew my faith, restore my joy

And dry my weeping eyes. . . .

Take me back, take me back dear

Lord to the place where I

first received you.

That song comes from a place of brokenness. It’s a cry for forgiveness; for God to take us back to that place of close friendship and fellowship with Him. It should be our heart cry whenever we find ourselves in a distant land carried away by our sin. It’s been the cry of my heart again and again over my long years of knowing the Lord. There have been valleys of anger and disobedience when I felt far, far from Him. Yet every time I cried out to Him, He was there. He took me back. That’s what friendship with God looks like. It’s knowing that no matter how far we wander into that faraway land, He is waiting with open arms to take us back and to forgive. He is the God who forgives.

Once President Lincoln was asked how he was going to treat the rebellious Southerners when they had finally been defeated and returned to the Union of the United States. The questioner expected that Lincoln would take dire vengeance, but he answered, “I will treat them as if they had never been away.”

God is like that. When He forgives, He treats us like we never messed up. He casts our sins into the sea of forgetfulness and puts up a “no fishing” sign there.

Henri Nouwen said this about forgiveness: “There are two sides to forgiveness: giving and receiving. Although at first sight giving seems to be harder, it often appears that we are not able to offer forgiveness to others because we have not been able fully to receive it. Only as people who have accepted forgiveness can we find the inner freedom to give it.”

We can’t really give forgiveness until we have received it from God. And we can’t receive forgiveness from Him until we are broken and contrite in heart.

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