Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
God Does’t Keep Tally Marks
Think about one of your closest relationships for a minute. Who is one person with whom you spend more time of your life than anyone else? Maybe it’s a brother or sister. Maybe it’s a really close friend. Maybe it’s one of your parents.
Now, what would happen if you would keep a tally of all the times they frustrated you or disappointed you throughout the course of a week? How quickly would you fill up a piece of paper with tally lines? How would your heart begin to change toward that person as you mark tally after tally? Perhaps you would begin looking for reasons to give them tally marks, and you might begin to believe that there was nothing good at all that they could do that would out-weigh that dreadful list. Your heart would probably become hard toward that person, and you would begin looking for ways to put distance between them and yourself.
What would happen if the tables were turned? What if they kept a tally of all of your mistakes? You would no doubt begin walking on eggshells around them. You would wonder if there would ever be enough good you could do to make them approve of you, despite all your tally marks. And you would probably begin looking for ways to put distance between them and yourself.
If we are honest, and we believe that God is Real and Present in our lives, then we can easily imagine how quickly our tally marks against Him would fill a page. Love something else more than we love Him: mark. Ignore what He says to us: mark. Flake on time we were supposed to spend with Him: mark. Show ungratefulness for a gift He’s given: mark. And all of that would happen before breakfast!
If God would keep those marks against us, we would never get out of the negative. There would be no good we could imagine doing that would erase all those marks. We would be left wondering how long God would put up with us before He just ditched our relationship all together. The guilt of our marks would drive a deep divide in our relationship, and we would not seek to be in His presence any more.
But, the Bible is crystal clear on this point: “with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (Psalm 130:4).
God does not keep tally marks.
Goodness gracious and hallelujah! Because of Jesus, our sheet of tally marks is ripped to pieces, burned in the fire and thrown to the wind. There is nothing now that comes between us and our relationship with our Real. Present. God. His desire to be in relationship with us was so great that He was willing to do anything–even give His very life, so that we could have life with Him.
Father God, thank You for making it possible for my tally marks to be erased. Thank You for Your sweet forgiveness. Help me to always hope in You. Amen.