Psalm 73: Getting it RightThursday, May 2, 2013
"But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord my refuge, that I may tell of all your works." (v.28)
It is a grace to get it right because so often I get it wrong. No, I don't mean that I fall into gross and willing sin and I don't mean that I am seduced by the old arguments of new atheism. No, I don't mean that I occasionally question the tenets of my faith or question whether ministry is really worth it. No, getting it wrong is much more subtle than that. Getting it wrong is not about the big, dramatic, consequential moments of life. No, getting it wrong is much more about the little mundane moments of everyday life. It is very easy to let up your guard and be all too relaxed in these moments precisely because they are little moments. It is also tempting to minimize the wrong choices that you make in these little moments because they are little moments. But the opposite is true. The little moments of life are profoundly important because they are little moments. Little moments are the moments we live in everyday. The character and course of a person's life is not set in three or four grand, significant moments of life. No, the character of a person's life is shaped in 10,000 little moments of life. It is the character that was formed in the mundane that you carry into those rare consequential moments of life.
The last verse of Psalm 73 is a manual on getting it right and because it is, it is also a manual on what it looks like to get it wrong. Getting it right means acknowledging God's presence, remembering his rescue, and obeying his call.
Getting it right: Acknowledging God's Presence. Perhaps there are no more important words to have constantly ringing in the ears of your heart than these, "...it is good to be near God." "Near God" is something you could never have earned, deserved, or personally achieved." "Near God" is the exact opposite of where sin takes you. "Near God" brought Jesus to earth and required him to die. "Near God" restores to you what sin destroyed and what only grace can restore. "Near God" is where you were designed to live. It is very important that grace has brought you close to God once again. Grace means he is in you and you are in him. Grace has made it impossible for you to be alone. You see, God's greatest gift to you is the gift of himself! But you and I don't always acknowledge his presence. There are moments in life when we get it wrong; where we live as if he doesn't exist and is not near. When we do this we either panic in the face of the normal difficulties of life in this fallen world and in the face of the perplexities of God's sovereign plan or we fall into trying to do God's job, and in so doing, complicate our lives all the more. Are you getting it right; does your daily living celebrate that grace has brought you near to God and God near to you?
Getting it right: Remembering God's Rescue. In a fallen world, that does not operate in the way that the Creator intended and where temptation and danger are encountered every day, these words are vital as well, "...I have made the Lord God my refuge." Under the heat of life in this broken world you will become weary, wounded and discouraged and when you do you will run somewhere for refuge. It is vital to remember that God is the only hiding place worth running to. It is he and he alone who can heal the wounds of your heart. It is he and he alone that can give you the strength you need to get up once more and continue. It is he and he alone that can give inner peace when there is little peace to be found around you. It is he and he alone that can forgive you when you have sinned and strengthen you when you are weak. But often we forget that grace has given us refuge. We forget that God welcomes us to run to him. So we run to the creation rather than the Creator for refuge, and when we do, we never get the solace for which we are seeking. We may successfully numb ourselves for a while and we may distract ourselves for a while, but our hearts are not strengthened or encouraged. Because the replacement refuges of people and things cannot relieve our burdens, but only distract us from them, we have to go back to them again and again. Sadly, when we get it wrong, forgetting that God is our refuge, while running to people and things, we never end up strengthen and encouraged. No, we only end up fat, addicted, and in debt. Are you getting it right? When you are weak, weary, and discouraged do you run to the one refuge that can provide refuge; your Lord?
Getting it right: Obeying God's Call. Getting it right is not only about living in the comfort of God's presence and refuge, but it is also about answering his call. Getting it right is about constantly remembering that God gives you himself and his grace not so that you can make your little kingdom work the way that you want it to work. No, he gives you the grace of his nearness and the grace of refuge so that you will have what you need to give you to the thing to which he has called you; the big sky work of his kingdom of grace and redemption. "...That I may tell of his works," says it very well. No longer do I live for my own glory; the glory of getting what I want, indulging what I feel, and satisfying my needs. No, I now live with the recognition that I have been sovereignly gifted and positioned so that all that I do and say would point the people around me to the one glory that will only ever satisfy their hearts; the glory of God. And I live looking for opportunities to point to his work as Creator, his work as Sovereign, and his work as Savior. But sadly, I don't always get it right. Often I live as if there were few things as important as my schedule, my plans, my comfort, and my success. Where the rubber meets the road in daily live, I put myself in the center of my world and forget that that place had been reserved for God alone. When I make it all about me, I live in low-grade frustration and irritation and I miss the daily opportunities that God gives for me to connect myself to something that is vastly bigger and fundamentally better. Are you concretely living for something bigger than your own daily agenda?
Because of God's grace, we often get it right; but because of remaining sin, we so often get it wrong. In which place are you living today? May your hands be productive because in your heart you get it right (God is near, he is my refuge, and I will obey his call.)