Have you read Psalm 19 lately? It’s a magnificent message about God revealing Himself to His creation. This morning, when my heart was overflowing with gratitude to the Lord for our softball team, I didn’t understand why I kept hearing Psalm 19. So I read it. And immediately I understood. David, the author of the psalm, is about to burst with wisdom and insight. He gets how God makes Himself known to humanity and it practically undoes him. With arms wide open he shouts, “You go God. I love how You use the mind boggling splendor of the stars and sun to expose Your excellence. I totally get how You make Your nature known through Your law. You are awesome . . . amazing!” And then suddenly without any warning a painful awareness silences the praise. An incredulous thought crosses his mind. “Humanity knows You because of Your heavens, because of Your law . . . and because of me?! You want to use me to reveal Yourself to Your creation?!” Weak knees wobble. Holy hands tremble. An outstretched body bends. And a humbled soul confesses. “Help me, Lord. I am a sinner.” And, the praiser pleads to the One he loves. “Please, Lord, help me. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to You, my strength and my Redeemer.” My heart felt “strangely warmed”. Three thousand years collapsed into one moment with a realization. God delights in revealing Himself to His creation through ten men and women on a softball field. With their favorite scripture shouting from their backs and words of encouragement pouring from their mouths the Apostles softball team declare the reality of the One they love. It’s what God wants to do with each of us. He yearns to use our words and our actions to make Himself known to His creation. Love. Grace. Mercy. They are ours to give that others may live. Please, Lord, help us. May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to You, our strength and our Redeemer.” We adore You, O Christ, now and forever. Amen.
My precious Frank and I were frustrated with each other. Deep down I knew my pathology of control was in full swing. But, when you’re ticked off with someone, self-reflection is the last activity in which you want to engage. Blame and judgment are far more enjoyable companions. So, I thoroughly enjoyed their company. As I confessed the error of my ways during my sermon the following morning my eight-year-old grandson’s hand shot like an arrow into the air. Knowing that he was within hearing distance of our disagreement I trembled at the thought of what he might say. So, I chose to ignore the waving request with “We’ll talk about it later, Walker, okay bud?” The congregation chuckled, and we moved on. Quickly. Shortly following our worship service I received a phone call. “Leslie, I was sitting in front of Walker and I thought you might want to know what I heard him say.” My mind raced fearfully. “When you didn’t call on him he turned to his buddy next to him and said, ‘I wanted to tell Laelae that I want to be baptized.’” I couldn’t speak. The lump in my throat was too big. We think we know what someone else is thinking. I was certain Walker wanted to bear witness to my mistakes. He just wanted to bear witness to God’s grace. Amazing. Lord, save us from ourselves. Save us from thinking that we know what others are thinking. Have mercy on us, most merciful Savior. Have mercy.
When someone hurts us we want to hurt back. It’s a natural instinct. Animalistic actually. A dog is bitten. A dog bites back. A dog is beaten. A dog fights back. But when a dog is beaten until it’s broken, the dog cowers in fear hurting itself more than the assailant. Naturally we humans view this behavior as normal. People hurt us. We hurt them. With our words. Our actions. We want them to hurt. And we want it now. But we have an amazing God who is asking us to fight, not others, but our own natural instincts. To let love become our natural response to hate. To separate ourselves in the animal kingdom. Behave differently. Refuse to attack. Refuse to cower. Remain constant in patience and kindness. Trash the records of others’ wrong doings. He knows it’s against our nature. And He knows we need Him – the One whose name is Love – to help us fight right. We are His wounded warriors. We reject revenge. We relinquish it to our Captain. (Romans 12:19) We bend low in love. And hold on valiantly to the hope for His Kingdom. So, onward Lord!!! Lead us into a land where love lives triumphantly! We are Yours now and forever! So be it!