(Reading List Theme 1.5)

I think most of us would agree that it is pretty easy to get caught up in our own lives and lose God’s perspective on things. Amazingly, God is able to see far ahead on the journey, yet still be right here with us in whatever point we currently travel. When I make prayer my first response – instead of my last resort, I can rest in his care and plan without fully knowing what is ahead. The trick, is to actually pray.

We know that, as Jesus said, prayer does not have to be eloquent, it just has to be from the heart. However, Psalm 116 is an example of a poetic prayer. It was not poetic for show, but it was the natural outflow of the heart of someone who happened to be a writer.  At times the psalmist (poet/songwriter) spoke to God in praise, in request, and at other times the psalmist tells the story of God in his life – his own testimony.

The writer was facing death… kind of puts my troubles in perspective! Because thankfully, I am not ill, and no one wants to kill me, so I am not facing death. I am merely facing an adventure in which I can’t see far ahead.

I like how this psalm takes kind of a situation-response format:

He hears my prayers and answers… my response is to love the Lord!

He bends down and listens… my response is to pray all my life!

Death surrounded me… my response was to call on the Lord and praise! He is kind! Good! Merciful! Protecting!

The Lord has been so good to me… my response is to rest.

The Lord has saved me… my response is to walk in his presence.

The Lord has done so much for me… my response is to “lift up a cup of salvation, praise the Lord’s name, and keep my promises to the Lord.”

When I see the list of what the Lord has done for the psalmist, I see that he has done all that for me as well. My response should be the same! Love, keep praying, praise him, rest in him, walk in his presence, and give to him my own offering.

“I am your servant…I will offer you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will keep my promises…” (116:16-18)

What are God’s promises to me? To love me, bring me into His presence when I die, care for me, provide for me, give me peace, joy, calm, and provide his Holy Spirit to help me do all he calls me to. What have I promised him? To be a faithful wife and mother, to tithe, to surrender my desires and serve as faithfully as I can here in Eugene, to attempt to love God and people, live in godly character. I KNOW God is faithful. I will attempt to be faithful.

FACING DEATH

When I think about how the Psalmist faced death (116:3, 6), I am reminded that though I may have faced dangerous times when God saved me from unknown dangers (just-missed car accidents, animals in the forest that didn’t attack me when I was hiking or running, strangers on the street that could have threatened me but didn’t…), I have never faced an ongoing threat of death by living in a dangerous area, or the threat of death by serious illness. I have had friends and relatives die, but no one in my immediate family or closest friendship. In this, I know I have experienced a great grace of God. Many people daily face death by living in war-zones, areas of religious persecution, gang or crime-riddled areas, or areas of great disease and malnutrition. How can I, whose experience with death is relatively minor, speak with any meaning on this issue?

Perhaps I cannot. But I can look each day with thankfulness that God has saved me from eternal death, through Jesus Christ. Death is the great enemy. Death is not in God’s ideal plan – it came when sin entered the world. Eternal life is what God desires us to experience, and what we can look forward to after we accept the bridge Jesus built for us, to lead us from sin and death into life and peace. Since the threat of death is gone, we need no longer walk in fear or sorrow (v.8).  Verse 15 says it grieves the Lord when his loved ones die. I wonder if this is not talking about physical death, because when Christians physically die they are in heaven with God, and that is a good thing. We can trust God will not take us before it is our time, and we shouldn’t try to take our own lives, but to die as a believer in Jesus Christ is to go to heaven, which is a much more wonderful place than earth. I wonder if perhaps this verse is talking about when people die physically and are also spiritually dead.  Anyone who does not accept Jesus will have eternal separation from God, and will suffer in hell.  That is what grieves the Lord.  Whether or not we love and choose him, he loves and chooses us. If we do not choose him back, he is grieved, because we are all precious to him.

THE OUTFLOW OF MY HEART

I think it can be helpful to look at the prayers in the Bible, and follow their format, as I have done in a few previous posts. If I pray like today’s psalmist, what is the outflow of my heart?

I love the Lord, because he never gives up on me

He is always faithful, his blessings I continually see

My future I do not know, but I know who walks along

So I practice thanksgiving, and worship with song

I praise my God for his faithful care

When I missed me family, he brought me to them

He prepares me for all the challenges I face

He is preparing me still for great things ahead

Keeping my eyes on him, I won’t go wrong

So Lord, I commit to you anew today

My love and service, as long as I live

I will trust you and faithfully fulfill all I am given to do

I will seek you each day, and thank you for all

I dedicate myself, and ask the Holy Spirit to lead

Thank you for gifts each day, big and small

When I look for them, they are all around me

It is not eloquent, it doesn’t rhyme or follow a strict poetic form, but it is genuine and heartfelt. And that is what matters, right?

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