“Oh, tell me I may sponge away the writing on this stone!” – from A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens
When you cross lines you never thought you’d cross, and give yourself permission to do things you never thought you were capable of, you create what may be the worst nightmare of your life.
Creating it takes a certain amount of denial (like telling yourself it’s not so bad, it will only be this one time, no one will know, etc.) and facing it takes a high amount of courage. Looking at your own mess, after all, is humiliating and heartbreaking all at once. No wonder so many refuse to face it!
When a Good Man Does a Bad Thing
King David, one of the best men in human history, could tell us a thing or two about this. When he crossed the line during his notorious adultery with Bathsheba (II Samuel 11) he may well have thought he’d gotten away with his secret sin. Months went by while he kept it hidden, and he may have concluded that it was behind him, until God jerked him to attention through a rebuke from the prophet Nathan. (II Samuel 12:1-4)
Nathan began by telling David a story about a man who’d done something similar to what he himself had done. David, not recognizing himself in the story yet hating the sin the man in the story committed, reacted strongly (II Samuel 12:5-6) commanding that the guy be put to death. (Side note – ever notice how horrible your sin looks on someone else, but how minor it looks on you?)
The Wound That Heals
That’s when Nathan sledgehammered David with those lethal words, “Thou are the man.” (II Samuel 12:7) That’s also when King David – a good man who’d done evil in secret that was now being published openly – crumpled under the weight of
Truth can produce a wound, a wound with a purpose, because many men aren’t likely to abandon sexual sin until they get a good look at its seriousness. That can mean facing things you’ve avoided, like the damage it’s done to your wife, your children, yourself.
But when you do face it, you experience one of three things that are, in my opinion, necessary for true repentance: Anger, Fear and Sadness. I think David experienced all three. He was heartbroken over his behavior, angry with himself , and frightened of the possible consequences. That combination of emotions drove him to humility, prayer, and necessary action. (See Psalm 51)
In other words, his crisis of truth was not an end, but a vital beginning of true repentance and restoration. Please consider this – God didn’t send Nathan to rebuke David because his life was over, but because God wanted it to be better. In his book “David: A Man of Passion and Destiny”, Charles Swindoll notes:
Why did such a major change take place in David’s like and attitude? First, because David hurt enough to admit his need.
Shame, outrage and fear – they seem like negative emotions, but they also produce enough discomfort and energy to shake a man out of his complacency and into redemptive action. That, I hope and trust, will be as true of you as it was of David.