The Gift of Awareness

It is not just my sin that I need to see.

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Driving Lessons

I am currently in the process of teaching my youngest child to drive. One of the primary lessons I want to instill in her is not necessarily a particular skill. Rather, it is awareness.

As we do practice driving around town, I'm constantly reminding her to be aware of her surroundings. To notice the cars behind her, in front of her, those approaching from the opposite direction. One of the most important areas of awareness is the blind spot.

Every vehicle as blind spots, which are the areas to the side and rear of a car that are outside the view of the mirrors. Because of the danger associated with not knowing what lurks in those hidden areas, auto manufacturers have developed technology with sensors that are able to detect when another vehicle is in a blind spot. In combination with a quick look over the shoulder, the orange warning lights embedded into the side mirrors help to prevent accidents by providing drivers with greater awareness of their surroundings. 

Being Tail-gated

In Psalm 51, David confesses awareness in verse 3, “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.” He was fully aware of his grievous offenses. Even though it took a year to verbally confess what was there, he knew

The Hebrew word translated “before” (neged, נֶ֫גֶד) can mean in front. But at least sixteen times in the Old Testament, the word is translated as “in the presence.” Therefore, to have sin before me does not necessarily mean it is directly in front of me. It may be in my blind spot, but it is always present. Lurking, haunting, and maybe even hunting me.

I live in the north Georgia mountains. Our roads largely are two-laners that twist and turn. It is nearly impossible to pass in those driving conditions. Sometimes, you’ll get a tailgater on your bumper and no matter how hard you try, you just can’t shake ‘em. 

For a year, David had been living with unconfessed sin on his tail. Maybe he grew sick of having it always present and adjusted the mirror so he couldn’t see it. But you know what it’s like to be tailgated. Even if you adjust the mirror and put the unwanted follower in a blind spot, it is still there. 

Always present. 

When Nathan approached David with his story about the abusive man of power, it was as if the Lord were using the prophet as a blind spot detection warning device, altering David to the danger of unconfessed sin. The orange light on the mirror lit up with the words, “You are the man!” In that moment, whatever he had sought to hide was fully exposed and he couldn’t deny it. 

Goodness and Mercy

Awareness of sin is a gift. Just like blind spot detection warning systems can be a gift to a driver, so is the awareness of sin. Granted, having the ugliness of sin exposed probably does not feel like a gift. Yet only by having an awareness of sin can I have an awareness of grace. The single solution for shaking the tailgating of guilt and living in the freedom of forgiveness is when we see sin for what it is. 

And confess it for what it is. 

In God’s design for the gospel, the act of confession unlocks the floodgates of mercy by enabling us to hear the voice of Jesus in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” 

It is hard to miss the connection with Isaiah 53:4-6, 

4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 

5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 

The gift of awareness leads to the grace of forgiveness. And the grace of forgiveness opens up a new world where what is most present is no longer a sense of my sin, guilt, and shame, but a sense of the Shepherd’s grace, kindness, and love. Yes, in this life, we will have an ever-present awareness of the ugliness of our flesh (the sinful nature). But for those who see and confess, we will have an even greater, ever-present awareness of the beauty of God’s grace that radiates from the cross, where the Good Shepherd laid his life down, only to take it up again that we might know all the promises of mercy are yes and amen. 

If we have received the gift of sin awareness let’s be sure we have received the gift of gospel awareness, too. That is the Lord’s heart for you. As the last lines of Psalm 23—the Good Shepherd Psalm—promise: “Surely goodness and unfailing love (Hebrew, hesed) will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

What a gift it is to know that grace is always there.

Always present.

I think that deserves another, yes and amen!

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