“Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will
return to you.”—Psalms 51:13 (ESV)
My father never missed to pick
up the daily newspaper. It was always on agenda for him to know what was going
on around the world, at the time when there were a handful of FM radio
stations, no satellite TV (just UTV). The other thing he never did was throw
away a newspaper after reading it, he always kept them with all the pages
intact, and in proper page order.
When I came around at the start
of the 1990s, I found these papers dating from the early 1980’s. Then the late
1990’s came and I learnt to read. As I dug into these papers, I was struck by the
most gruesome black and white pictures an eye could meet. On top of the images,
in bold letters, was the name Kony.
This was the era of the LRA
insurgency in Northern Uganda. But the thing that puzzled me the most, even up to
my 20’s, was how the UPDF (Ugandan Army) would capture LRA rebels, grant them
asylum, absorb them into the force, and later send them to the battleground to
fight against the very cohorts they were part of.
This troubled me a lot. “Won’t
they double-cross them? What if they change their minds, again? And how in this
freakin’ world would we trust rebels to clean up their own mess?” Those were
some of the questions that kept my curiosity going.
That was when God brought Psalm
51 my way, all to show me that He had been doing it since time in memorial and
that the UPDF was reading from His script. The events of this Psalm come after
David had messed up with Bathsheba. The bible also tells us that Bathsheba was
drop-dead gorgeous (not my words)!
David asks God to blot out his
sin, restore him so that he will go back to the battleground and fight the very
thing that had earlier on kicked him in the head. There are a few reasons why
God uses rebels in His business. First of all, they have seen how ugly sin is
and can no longer stand its reeking company.
Secondly, they will not stand around
and watch their friends and family fall to the very thing that brought them
misery, and since they have been single-handedly saved by God from it, it’s
instinctive of them to stand against it.
And thirdly, rebels are all that
there are. Since Adam and Eve took the Serpent’s lead to be their own god,
everyone born after them comes into this world with a rebellious heart (Psalm
51:5). That is why a three-month old baby will cry when its mother leaves the
room, at that age the baby thinks that it alone has the best plan for its
mother and what those little sharp cries communicate is: “Sit still and know
that I am [lord], I have a plan for your sorry life!”
God is in the business of using
rebels, in fact that is all he does throughout the bible: murderers, liars, adulterers,
thieves, prostitutes, doubters, half-breeds, gluttons, even nagging Pharisees. As
someone once put it, “There is no “us and them”, just “us and HIM”.”
“Us” is God’s natural selection;
it is the only pool he has to pick from. This is very comforting to me because
God doesn’t just blot out my sin on the account of His Son, but also gives me a
new name—Saint—and then sends me out to tell His story. He wants to use you as
well, because as Martin Luther said: “We are all mere beggars showing other beggars
where to find bread.”