I’ve been wandering around Jerusalem without any destination in mind since I finished my work today. I really don’t want to return home to face my family. I even have a hard time making eye contact with my children. The heavy burden of letting them down has crushed my spirit. My so-called friends don’t want to hear about the pain. I feel like the shell of a man. My job has made me despised by my community. I knew that going in but never imagined that it would be quite like this. How could God ever accept or forgive me after all the things I’ve done? There’s no one to turn to. There’s no one who understands how guilty I feel.
Guilty. An ugly word. David called his guilt a burden too heavy to bear. This one’s heavier than I could’ve thought possible. I don’t want to drag this burden around any more. I’m guilty of so much. I’m a sinner. Without hope. In need of extreme mercy.
Mercy. A word of beauty. I recall reading in Jeremiah’s writings that His mercies are new every morning. Fresh mercy. Every day. I yearn for His mercy. I think of mercy as I walk towards the synagogue. A place where I’ve heard the religious leaders hang guilt over the heads of the crowd. But I’ve also heard the special message of a new Rabbi. He promised mercy to all who were in need of it. For all who would cry out for it. His firm, but gentle tone appealed to my soul. I need that mercy.
Tonight, as I follow the crowd into the synagogue, I search for a place to pray. A place to get alone and talk to God. My head sinks. My eyes are drawn to the floor. I can’t look up. As I kneel in this crowded place, it transforms into a room where I stand alone in front of a holy God. I’m oblivious to those around me. My focus becomes the rottenness I’ve allowed to overtake me. I see all the sin I’ve been convicted of. I see all the hurt lives, the damaged relationships, my selfish attitude, and all I can do is beat my chest in an act of desperation. I can bear the pain no longer. And I cry, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
Then I went home.