I grew up on a small farm in the Midwest. I loved that farm and the woods. I loved summers and running though the fields, exploring the creek. Our land was a constant source of new games to invent and things to discover.
One summer in particular, I learned a lesson that still stays with me. I was playing in the fields where we had some weeds that grew taller than me. A lot taller. By mid-summer the weed’s stems had turned woody and we often used them in our games.
This day, I was eleven or twelve, and running across the field and fell. When I fell, I landed on one of those woody stem weeds and a piece broke of and went into my upper inner thigh. A large piece. I tried to pull the stick out, but the pain proved too much. In my young mind, I reasoned that this woody piece might, like a small splinter, work its way out if I left it alone.
Boy, was I wrong. Because the embedded stick was high on my inner thigh, no one noticed. However, after two or three days, I realized something needed to be done. I still didn’t want to tell anyone. One, I knew take the stick from my leg would hurt – a lot. Two, I was ashamed of waiting so long when I should have asked my dad to help me as soon as I returned to the house after being injured.
My dad and I were alone in the living room. I believe I may have started crying because of the pain. When he asked what was wrong, I pulled up the leg of my shorts and showed him. He didn’t get upset with me or lecture me about waiting. Instead, he calmly explained to me that if the stick had been taken out right away, the pain would not be as bad. By this time, the flesh had adhered to the stem which meant it would hurt a lot more and take longer to heal up. Then he pulled out the stick and, yep, it hurt a whole lot.
The first part of Psalm 32 reminds me of this incident. There is often a temptation to hide sin. When I’ve done something wrong, there’s that low thud of the heart knowing I’ve done wrong and can’t erase what’s been done. What happens if I try to hide the sin?
When I kept silent, my bones grew old Through my groaning all the day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; My vitality was turned into the drought of summer. Psalm 32: 3-4
Keeping silent causes the infection to start or the mind to begin making excuses and buying the sin. There is pain involved in hiding sin. The guilt grows and permeates the soul. Confessing that sin may be painful, but doing so immediately is better than letting the wound fester. Being ashamed shouldn’t be a reason to avoid asking forgiveness because God already knows what we’ve done.
I acknowledged my sin to You, And my iniquity I have not hidden. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” And You forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 32:5
God is always quick to forgive when we humble ourselves and ask forgiveness. What a comfort. There is a reason we should turn to God immediately when we do wrong, even the tiniest indiscretion should be admitted freely and immediately.
For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You…You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance. Psalm 32:7-8
My dad was right. That wound did take longer to heal up because I waited. Infection had set in, and the exit wound was larger than it would have been if the stick had come out right away. I’ve learned that hard lesson both about physical injuries and spiritual injuries. I know that taking action as soon as something happens brings a blessing and that’s what I want.
Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, Whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, And in whose spirit there is no deceit. Psalm 32:1-2