Saturday, December 18, 2010


Despite what I think I know intellectually about what it means to live for Christ, I know that a part of me keeps believing that as God opens my eyes more to what He sees, walking with Him gets easier. What a lie. Right after Jesus was baptized by John, the heavens opened with God's voice saying, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." [Matthew 3:16-17] What a magnificent moment it must have been for Jesus, to hear and feel the affirming love of his father in that moment.

What happened right after? "Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil."

I can see how God's been teaching me a lot of things this year, and really changing the way I look at myself, the world, and most of all, Him. But as I see God working in me, I've only recently noticed that Satan's trying to drag me down in other areas of my life that I wasn't keeping an eye on. I feel that I should have been more on guard as I strive to follow him faithfully, but I wasn't.

And so I find myself frustrated, bitter, and ignoring God's commands about the little parts of my life while holding on steadfastly to the bigger things I feel called to do. The lie that I kept on believing was that since I was following God's will about the bigger, more obvious and visible parts of my life, I was doing just fine.

I never thought I'd be a bitter person. I get stubborn, hold grudges if I'm not careful, and I'll occasionally get unreasonably angry. But I was never bitter about anyone or anything until this year, and on certain days when I'm alone with my thoughts, this attitude overwhelms me and taints everything I see.

I keep wishing that things were different, that I could fix things up in a day. And I feel that the more I am bitter and disappointed, especially with other people, I find myself drawing further from God. I find that I'm relying on myself to fix these things that I'm not satisfied with. I find myself trying to think of the right things to say or do around these people so that they will see what they're doing wrong, and so that they will change.

But David in Psalm 5 starts by asking God to hear his prayer. "In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation."

I don't know the last time I did that. Go before God in the morning, before anything else in my day, and present those requests to God, waiting in expectation. It is with a solid trust that God knows what He's doing that David can say these things. These things that I wish to see changed aren't necessarily bad, I want people to know God more, I want them to live their lives in ways that are pleasing to God, but when I just think them in my head, and I'm not presenting them to God, I see that I don't have trust in God's sovereignty. I don't trust that God can and will do what's best, and I keep trying to take matters into my own hands. And then I have to question the motives for why I'm asking for God to move in the hearts of people: is it for their best interest, or is it because they don't fit my standards?

David goes on to say that he knows that God is not one who takes pleasure in evil, that these people that David is up against are wicked, their hearts filled with destruction.

And then David closes the psalm in a unexpected manner. If it was me, I'd probably end it with some talk of how I'd fix it, how I'd care of it. He first praises God for being righteous, knowing that God is perfect, that it will be taken care of, rightly, by God. And then he ends with the reminder that God blesses those who love Him.

But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
     let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
     that those who love your name may rejoice in you.
For surely, O LORD, you bless the righteous;
     you surround them with your favour as with a shield.

And for me, I need to struggle to fight against the bitterness that keeps trying to taint how I follow Him. I'm praying that God gives me a heart of faith and trust like David's, which I know is what will keep my heart pure, so that every part of my life, visible or not, is pleasing to God, and can be used for His will.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

a whisper in the wind

I know I've already failed to keep this up. And with each day that I decide to ignore the One who is supposed to be my everything, I am tempted to let it continue for another day. But mine is a God of mercy who waits for me to return, not with a pointed finger and angry judgment, but with loving and open arms.

And yesterday, after a couple weeks of a dry existence, my former pastor tweets: "Never rest on the laurels or the failures of yesterday. Today is a new day, and God's mercies are new this morning for you."

So I return. Maybe not with a huge emotional feeling of repentance, but almost a reluctant acknowledgment of the emptiness in my life. It is in a quiet moment, in an intentional decision to seek Him, that God speaks to me.

I've heard over and over again from many people that in difficult times in their lives, God spoke through the Psalms of the Old Testament. I never really understood why; even when I was a lonely college freshman in Boston I'd tried reading them, but it never felt like I was comforted or given peace.

But I know it's only because I've only ever looked at the surface. When you dig into His Word, it is a treasure waiting to be discovered, as I have found in Psalm 4.

I don't think I can share in words how He used these words to move me this morning. So I'll just close with this thought of David's that runs parallel with mine. Even as David is in distress, he is able to say:

You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

the reason I live

As King David is fleeing for his life, he says:

I lie down and sleep; I wake again, because the LORD sustains me. I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side. (Psalm 3:5-6)
David knows that he has many enemies that are out for him, including his own son. Many people are saying that he will be found and killed, that God will not deliver him. Yet in this Psalm he still praises God and calls out to Him. Not in anger or bitterness, but with a trust that God's sovereign will is perfect and planned.

If I was hounded by "tens of thousands" who wanted me dead, I don't think I'd be able to say or do what David did in verse 5. He is unafraid! He goes to sleep, peacefully, and with complete trust in God, wakes up remembering and believing that God sustains every moment of his life. If he wakes up in the morning, it is only because of God's will that he does so. Because there must be a reason for why he wakes up day after day.

David wakes up with the thought that he is awake and alive because God has a purpose for him. Not just in the long run, as in "God's will for my life," but that there is a purpose to be lived out each day. How often do I wake up each morning believing that each day is an opportunity from God?