You’ve heard it said and so have I. “I’ll get to such-and-such a thing when I’m good and ready!” Most often, it’s a verbal line in the sand. A more gentle form of “don’t push me!” if you will. But, not always.
When the renowned English poet Elizabeth Barrett married Robert Browning her wedding had to take place in secret because of her father’s disapproval since she was a semi-invalid. The new couple left England and moved to Italy, where they remained for the rest of their lives. But the well-known writer of love poems which were adored all over the globe would not give up on the relationship. Each and every week she wrote letters to the parents who had disavowed her, pouring out her heart and seeking to restore the estranged relationship. Never did Elizabeth Barrett-Browning receive a reply from her father or mother. After 10 years, she received a large box in the mail. Inside, Elizabeth found all of the letters that had been sent over the course of a decade. Letters filled with love. Not one had been opened! Perhaps the father had said that he’d read them when he was good and ready, but died before that time came. Had her parents only read a few of them, their relationship with Elizabeth could have been restored.
Today’s verse says FOR YOU LORD ARE GOOD AND READY TO FORGIVE
“Good and ready” – that’s the operative term. In all the times you’ve heard it before, perhaps you’ve never known that it’s found in the book of Psalms. As crushed an broken as Elizabeth Barrett-Browning ever was, David knew that his hard heart and poor choices had inserted a gulf between him and God.
We will never know what Elizabeth wrote to her father, but David’s heart is on full display. “Hear me, Lord, and answer me. You are my God, have mercy on me. Restore joy to your servant, Lord; for I put my trust in you. FOR YOU LORD ARE GOOD AND READY TO FORGIVE.” On and on David’s heart poured itself out on the pages, turning to the God whom he knew to be filled with compassion, David knew that the only one who could change his heart and make him good was the one who was Himself the source of all goodness.
“Teach me your ways, O Lord,” he continued. We need God to teach us, because His ways are so far above ours that we cannot learn or discern them on our own. But since He is READY TO FORGIVE, and abundant in His lovingkindness to all who do call upon His name, God’s ears turn to this sort of a prayer. God heard David when he asked. God will also hear you and I when we do. This request is not made only by people who never knew God. Sadly, even the ones who love Him and desire to walk with Him fail, fall and need the relationship restored.
“Grant me an undivided heart.” David was tired of wanting the things that God didn’t. David was begging God to make his heart good, so that David would desire what God did.
That goodness results in closeness. And when we get close to God, the only response that fills our hearts is praise. It bursts forth from our hearts through our lips and hands and feet and arms. Songs of praise and shouts of joy, expressions of gladness and worship. God – and His people – delight in their praises. It fills us with joy, peace and strength.
The power of God comes from our praises of His love for us, from our closeness to Him. And we need to come to Him regularly and stay close to Him.
I have an electric shaver. It has a rechargeable battery, so it can be used when it’s unplugged. But it gets slower and slower over time. It still cuts my beard, but not the way it was meant to. And sooner or later it stops. The battery is dead. But once I plug it in – WOW. It immediately steps up the revs and cuts whiskers like new. Unplugged it does a somewhat passable job; but plugged in the difference is amazing.
If you don’t know Jesus, you can get along in everyday life without ever acknowledging Him. You can be an atheist, and get along fairly well. Before I knew Jesus Christ, I thought I was fine – but that’s because I didn’t know any better. I was like the unplugged shaver. I could never really do what I had been designed to do, never fulfill my potential, never accomplish the plan of God for my life. There are lots of people who are getting by, but they don’t realise they’re not plugged into the power source. And sooner or later, their batteries die, too. To be truly good, to operate with the power that you were designed to live in, you have to plug into the power source. You have to be connected to God Himself through Jesus Christ.
There you have it – God is both good AND ready. His love for you is abundant. His desire is to forgive and have your relationship with Him restored. He offers you new hope, new life, new grace, new love – new goodness.
God is good and ready. The question is — Are you ready to be good?