Devotions By Jan

Albatross Around the Neck

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Scripture for Today: Psalm 38:4 “My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.”

The albatross looks nice enough but I would not want to wear him around my neck!  The old expression comes from a 19th century poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”  The narrator flippantly shoots the albatross, a bird thought to be a sign of good luck.  The sailors are so incensed that they oblige him to wear the dead bird around his neck as penance.  The expression today means having a heavy burden one cannot escape, and being kept from doing what one wants to do.

Today’s verse describes the guilt David felt as being a burden too heavy to bear.  He describes it as a searing pain in his back, making him feeble and crushing him (verse 7-8)  He recognizes his sin and that he is experiencing the rebuke and discipline of the Lord.  He groans in “anguish of heart” and confesses his sin (verse 18).  Not only does David experience God’s wonderful forgiveness but even the guilt is lifted off of him.  It was because David acknowledged his sin that God forgave even the guilt of his sin (Psalm 32:5).

The guilt of sin is never something I have to feel around my neck weighing me down.  When I agree with God about my sin in repentance, He is there to lift that burden from me.  His forgiveness means that sin is removed as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).  Memories of past failures do not have to influence me and any reminder of them does not come from Him!  His forgiveness is liberating and freeing.  He never brings up the matter again and He gives me a light heart, reassuring me of His constant, unconditional love.

What a gift!  Thank you, Lord.

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