Friday, January 14, 2011

Whiter than Snow

The snow fell softly, brightly, and steadily on Wednesday night.  I looked out at 11:30pm, having been reading my Bible, and was startled to see how light it was outside.  Even the smallest light was magnified by the snow until the slumbering world was illuminated as far as I could see.  Everything jarring and ugly about our yard, everything that we wanted to fix or clean up- all the darkness of that winter night disappeared under the bright beauty of the new-fallen snow. 

So often, my efforts to act righteously end up looking like a dark and barren place, devoid of any beauty or life.  I cannot rid myself of failure, and despite my best efforts, I am infinitely separated from perfection.  So often I feel inescapably crushed beneath the weight of inadequacy.  I will never be able to please God, no matter how noble my intentions may be.  Even if I manage to do something amazingly selfless or heroic, my true nature is that of a sinner.  And yet, hope beyond hope, something marvelous has been promised me!  Even I myself can be covered and purified as with a white blanket of snow, dazzling in the light of the moon.  

    "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
         Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
                                                        (Psalm 51:7 NASB)

Hyssop branches are a significant symbolism of the Exodus account, where they were used to brush the blood of the Passover lamb upon the door posts of those who trusted in God.  That blood was the ransom for the life of the first-born son, a shadow of Christ's spilled blood, the ransom for all who believe.  No longer are we held under the tyranny of trying to achieve perfect righteousness in our own strength, nor do we need to conduct endless rituals to atone for sin.  We are washed and made perfect in the sight of God, once and for all, by the blood of Jesus Christ!

 "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?  For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance." (Hebrews 9:13-15 NASB)
Thanks be to my God and Father that when he looks at me, he sees his Son.  And so, in the end, I will stand with the saints before the throne of God, praising the One who has given me everything.  How terrible it would be if the rags of my self-made righteousness still proudly hung about me- how terrible if He turned his face away: "I never knew you". (Matt 7:23)  But by His grace, I am clothed in the pure white robe of Christ's righteousness.  How often do I truly feel like I am truly pure, spotless, and perfect?  Could it possibly be me who was spoken of in Revelation 19:8?  "It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints." Praise God that he has shown mercy, giving me a spotless beauty of which I remain undeserving!  And yet, by the undeserved scorn of the cross, I have been ransomed "to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light." (Col 1:12 NASB)

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