"Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit -- with burnt offerings. Then bulls will again be sacrificed in your altar." -- Psalm 51:19 NLT
A SPIRITUAL heart that went through the process of spiritual surgery though on the way to wholeness is still in the spiritual recovery room. From repentance to restoration, we need to remember the important process in between that's recovery. "Recovery" is a positive word that brings hope, and it is also a realistic word that humbles us. It tells the patient that they are out of danger but not yet fully healed. Being out of the surgery is a big relief, yet the period of recovery, though hope-filled, warns us that relapse is always a possibility. The waiting moment is challenging when the anesthetic wanes out and pain comes back is truly a time of deep anxiety and disappointment. Yet this is included in the whole package of God's healing.
In repentance the emotions are intense, the tears are abundant and a deep sense of relief is real like a big lump is finally out of our hearts. At this point allow me to say something that perhaps only a preacher can understand. After preaching a message using your heart and your full being in it the preacher experiences a time of temporary tiredness of the soul. It's very draining as well as very demonic, here we feel the attack of darkness that after many are blessed, the one who speaks is now paying the price! I think it's the same thing with songwriters and authors and anybody who becomes a vessel where God's mercy flows through. You feel the vengeance of darkness and somehow the distance of God! It is in this moment that the one whom God has used finds that it's now his or her turn to understand or at least taste what he said or what he or she wrote. Brokenness never spares the one who speaks it!
Similarly, the forgiven sinner comes to term now with the ecstasy of being forgiven and the reality of still being in a world that is unforgiving! This is the time where we stay a little bit longer in the hospital of repentance for recovery, lest we stay there again because of relapse. This is a timely admonition for all of us to be gracious in giving SPACE for those recovering from the wounds of repentance. To dispense a wider venue for many "inconsistencies" and for a greater grace to live with the life that is forgiven and yet still in the world of unforgiveness. Giving space for recovering sinners, recovering perfectionist and recovering fundamentalist means that the recovered ones will not hurry recovery! I am not about to give a certain time table because many wounds have been infected so deep that their recovery requires more time. Let go to some specifics, space for their pain, space for their doubts, space for their being driven demanding to do something. By space I mean give them the benefit of not being immediately corrected or rebuked, the benefit of letting them vent out the experience with all its extreme and excesses without immediate censorship. Remember Lazarus, the one Jesus raised from the dead? He was dead for days ago, no he is fully alive! Don't interview him immediately allow his experience to sink in and if he talks just listen, and if he chooses to be silent let him. Recovery time and time with recovering persons, believe me, requires more doses of grace that the time of sickness. Why? Because when you are sick you know you are helpless and you are not in charge. In the time of recovery, your excitement is back and relapse is real. A heart in recovery needs more care than a heart that is sick. In due time we will all see the fruit of full recovery: "Then" is mentioned twice in verse 19: "Then you will be pleased with sacrifices offered in the right spirit-with burnt offerings and whole burnt offerings. This first "then" is a loaded word, it reminds us of a very difficult encounter one had with self, with God, and with sin. This somehow reminds us that someone is still recovering. Therefore, the reality of adjusting to a new forgiven life must be respected and assisted. Imagine from the worst kind of sin now transitioning to having a right spirit? That takes time, that takes grace.
Here I remember the many gracious saints of God who granted me grace in my recovery period. These are the ones who did not laugh at my mistakes or doubted my salvation. They were aware of my legalistic excesses yet they postponed correction and allowed time to heal. Today I look back with the embarrassment of many things I strongly believe before and now I realized how minor they were and how many tolerated my excesses. I am both gently rebuked and grateful and believe me relapse was avoided. I remember a comment that says like this "the Baptist introduce me to Jesus and signed me in for heaven, and put my work right away missing the time to know the One who saved me" this is a timely awakening for many of us who bypass the recovery time.
"Then" is again used in this verse 19 "Then bulls will again be sacrificed in your altar." This is the timely signal to leave the bed of recovery for there are many recovering sinners that need it. It's time to be someone who now gives space for others to recover. It's time to face the new routine of a forgiven life. Time to restore what we have taken, a time to tolerate people who are just like we were before. A time to right what was wrong and trust that it is God who is doing the fixing not us! This second "then" reminds us that a heart under-recovery will beat again in the new rhythm of grace.