Have you ever felt bad without really feeling bad? It’s that space where we know what we want, or feel, or think, is wrong – although we proclaim it as sin with our tongues, our hearts hold onto it as some form of holiness.
There is that parable about the woman who stole another woman’s baby in the dark of night because her own child died in his sleep. When the real mother discovered that her baby had been stolen, and confronted the woman, she denied it, seemingly without a bit of genuine remorse. Solomon was charged with the impossible task of discerning who the true mother was. It would’ve been nice if the Jerry Springer Show existed in those days so they could’ve done a legit maternity test, as well as some mom-on-mom fist fighting on live television. Unfortunately for that era untouched by the wonders of technology, he was left with only his instincts and his wisdom to work with.
Everyone knows how it ends. Solomon decides that the baby must be cut in half and each mother would receive half of a dead child. At first, it seems Solomon has crossed over from the land of wisdom to the land of crazy. But what we see unfold is evidence of his plan all along. The false mother is exposed as she agrees to such a monstrous plan. The real mother immediately hands the baby over. She would rather preserve the life of her child and hand him over to the undeserving savage this woman was, than claim whatever was left of hers to claim.
This story isn’t only about Solomon’s great wisdom, or the real mother’s heroism, but it’s also about the wrong that this bereaved mother chose to call right. It’s about the sin that she cherished in her heart as she pushed aside her dead child and quietly stole another, and nursed him in her breast as she convinced herself that what she was doing was not only okay, but capital R – Right.
I envision her in the black night, rushing around with her heart pounding through her chest, skipping past the grieving process and attempting to plug the aching wound in her heart with someone else’s most cherished possession. She lays her dead child in another’s arms, kisses his cold head and steals away to her bed, shutting out the pain with the closing of her eyes. God was shouting into her sleeping ears, “What you are doing is evil!” She put her hands over her ears and spoke these words instead, “What I am doing is good.”
The moment she called what is good, evil, was the moment she opened herself up to such darkness that it would succeed in pulling her under completely.
There is a moment in scripture where David cries out to God this very profound truth,
“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.
Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
I have cherished sin in my heart.
I have wondered, why doesn’t God rescue me from my own sinful desires?
Why are they so powerful, so unyielding, so seemingly close to righteousness that it’s sometimes hard to discern between life and death?
I have been like that grieving mother, stealing something that isn’t mine to take, nursing it, calling it good when it is evil, cherishing the sin that is wrapped around the act or thought or feeling that is pulling me away from God.
Just yesterday I was coveting what wasn’t mine to have. I was moving from that place of knowing it was wrong, to justifying it, to cherishing it.
I was slipping away from the presence of God.
I heard Him say, “Do not call good what I have called evil.”
The next day, I read this prayer of David, and I knew it was for me.
I don’t want to dress up my sin, cherish it, or mold it.
I simply want to call it what it is, and allow God to help me unhook from it’s clutches.
I don’t want to be the wrong person in this story, the one taking what isn’t her’s to take, deceiving others around her, and cherishing the sin she is committing.
I want to be the one who will let it all go, because it was never mine to begin with.