Bible Studies
Written by Jim Jordal   
Thursday, 04 July 2013


By Jim Jordal

"Have mercy on me, God, according to your loving kindness. According to the multitude of your tender mercies, blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity. Cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions. My sin is constantly before me….Behold, you desire truth in the inward parts…. Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness, That the bones which you have broken may rejoice….Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me. Don't throw me from your presence, And don't take your holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation."

From King David’s confession after his sins of adultery and murder, Psalm 51

As Mary and I look out from our screened porch at the rear of the house we look directly at a beautiful, perfectly formed, bushy green spruce about 40 feet tall. We consider it the finest tree of the many in our yard. And we’re reminded of the poem by Joyce Kilmer that ends, "Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree."

But it wasn’t always symmetrical and perfect. It began as an offshoot from the trunk of a small broken-off spruce. It was about 4 feet long, spindly, twisted, and struggling for life in a friend’s yard. He was about to dig it up and throw it on the burning pile. But we didn’t have many evergreens back then, so we said we’d take it. We transplanted its tortured form and waited to see if it would survive and grow. Well, it did, growing far beyond our expectations into what it is today---a perfect tree standing straight and tall, acting as a metaphor for what God can do with even the most broken and twisted growing things, including human lives.

We live in a broken, twisted world that has largely surrendered its heart and soul to the clutching, greedy grip of Mammon. People no longer matter: only growth, profit and power matter now. It’s eternally in the news---wonderful medical advances too expensive for common use, budget cuts denying basic decency for the poor, people driven from their homes by court-ordered eviction, and unused buildings that cannot be used as homes because of zoning regulations or community pressures. And it seems to grow worse almost daily.

The human refuse cast off by this tortured world exists in deprivation, desperation and hopelessness all around us. Human beings betrayed by the very systems originally designed for their benefit; now taken over by forces caring more for profits than for public betterment. A Congress caring more for tax breaks to billionaires than for food, housing and education for children and their families.

It would take only a little intelligence and compassion by the powerful forces now running this country to end this vicious circle of poverty---joblessness, homelessness, poor education, familial dysfunction, and back again to poverty. These millions of broken people can be reclaimed if only we cared enough to commit even a small fraction of our national wealth to direct remedies and prevention of poverty. But no, we blame it all on market forces far beyond our control, but not beyond control by the wealthy and powerful. It’s nothing less than a sin against humanity that will be followed---unless we begin paying attention to God’s word---by increasing economic and social devastation of most people within this land.

But God is in the business of reclaiming twisted, broken lands and their individual people. God requires broken, contrite hearts in order to do his work for people and nations. As bad as was his behavior, God forgave and restored David to greatness. But his reclamation had a cost.

The cost is "truth in the inward parts," or a sincere confession of sin and desire to change. Under these conditions God can straighten twisted trees as well as broken people and nations. Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 to see what it takes to enlist God’s healing and deliverance.