Light to Live By

"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Psalms (page 2 of 5)

Singleness of Heart

“Every man is ultimately concerned with something. He has given his heart, his allegiance, to something–set his direction. Thus the Scripture speaks of the ‘godly’ man in the Psalms, the man whose heart is ready to seek God. His counterpart has set his heart to seek things which are going to pass away. No man can be headed in two directions at one time.” (Elizabeth Elliot, The Liberty of Obedience, pp.49-50, emphasis added)

The Inescapable Presence

“But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped … Nevertheless, I am continually with you, you hold my right hand.” (Psalm 73:2, 23)

The clash between truth and apparent reality in this world had nearly become too much for the psalmist. He had almost lost his footing in faith. He had a deep crisis of faith and confessed that he had nearly succumbed and given way. Yet when God prevailed in his life and once again gave him perspective (v.17), the psalmist awakened to discover “I am continually with you”! Throughout the entire crisis he had remained in God’s favor, relationship and presence. Though he could not see it, the entire ordeal had transpired in God’s presence, with God near. Indeed, he could confess that through the entire experience “you hold my right hand.”

All our depression and every crippling crisis in actuality is based on a facade. When God seems far away, removed, and inactive it is but a half-drawn picture that ignores the greater reality of God’s inescapable presence with us through all things. We doubt God’s presence while immersed in God’s presence. Sometimes, for His own sovereign reasons and sanctifying purposes, God suspends the sense of His presence, but never His actual presence.

Forgive me, Lord, for my failing faith. Keep me. Awaken me to the reality of your presence and the riches I have in you. I ask this in the Name of Him who promised, “I am with you always” and “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Amen.

Psalm 23 Remix

“The Lord is my slave-driver,

I must never be satisfied.

He compels me to try harder.

He makes me labor more furiously;

He leads me into noisy activity.

He implores me to ignore the emptiness within

and just keep going;

He prods me in the paths of perfectionism

for His reputation’s sake.

Even as I walk through the valley of the shadow of burnout,

I fear a breakdown;

But no one can see the real me;

Your expectations and Your people,

they goad me on.

You prepare a list of expectations before me

in the presence of my peers;

You provoke me on and on,

My cup seems more parched than ever.

Surely serenity and rest will elude me all the days of my life.

And I will dwell in the land of the harried forever.”

(Song of the Satisfied Soul, pp.27-28)

The Silences of God

“My soul waits in silence for God only” (Psalm 62:1, NASB)

“I am reminded that in music silence is not silence. Musically, silence is called a rest. David was a musician. It seems to me – though I am no musician – the key to understanding the silence in the music is to never lose sight of the notes immediately before and after the silence. It is connecting the dots between those notes and interpreting the silence in its context that transforms silence into rest. Context, musically speaking, instructs you on how to read the silence. The same is true spiritually. Trouble is, in the midst of silence you haven’t heard the next note yet. All you have are the notes that have gone before. The music that led you to this moment tells you something is now unresolved. It leaves you listening, longing for those notes which will resolve the melody that has been played out to this point … We need to trust the Conductor enough to know that He will have more notes to be played. Only in this kind of faith-rest can we be ready to hear the next notes in this strain of divine music.” (Long Story Short, p.135)

Unsearchable!

The Psalmist tells us that God’s “greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:3b).

What does “unsearchable” mean except that no amount of searching can ever exhaust the wonder of the thing being explored? Not a million eternities would be sufficient time to explore every nook and cranny of that which is “unsearchable.” No amount of distance covered could ever be sufficient to have covered the landscape of that which is “unsearchable.” You would exhaust your lifetime and eternity trying to exhaust all that which is truly unsearchable.

As I pondered this recently, a series of questions came to my mind (for a reasons I don’t understand, can’t explain, or should I say: “search-out”). These are not Biblical questions, but they help me think more fully about what it means that God’s “greatness is unsearchable.”

If God’s greatness was a color, what color would it be? Green? Red? Blue? And how many shades and hues would each color possess? Well, I guess I’d have to conclude that it would be infinite! Along the spectrum of color which we call “green” we find names we’ve assigned to various tints such as chartreuse and lime. But those are simply names we’ve applied to specific points along that spectrum of color. What would we call that which is halfway between chartreuse and lime? And what is half way between whatever that is and chartreuse? We quickly see that searching out the infinite possibilities of color leads us on a chase of that which is ultimately unsearchable.

If God’s greatness were a flavor, what flavor would it be? And how many flavors are there anyway? What would a few grains of this or that spice do to an already existing flavor? Well, it would create a whole new culinary vista that would have to be explored! The world of flavor has never been fully explored!

If God’s greatness were music, what kind of music would it be? You have an opinion about that—I’m sure. Many of you are quite sure what kind of music it would not be. But others are just as convinced the other way. Whatever kind of music you might finally select, how many possible combinations of notes are there within that genre of music? Unsearchable! There are an infinite number of songs waiting to be written.

If God’s greatness were a language, what language would it be? And with what accent would it be spoken? With whatever language you may pick, what are the possible combinations of letters and characters to make new words? Words that would need to be invented just to describe some landscape of God’s character, Person and works that no one has yet seen or perhaps ever will see? Innumerable!

And if God’s greatness were a place, where would that place reside? Would it be more like Africa or like Asia? Like Europe or like South America? Would it be on our planet?  Or perhaps on another? Would it be within our solar system? Or would it be the entire solar system? Would it be within the dimensions of which we have some awareness? Or would it (does it) reside in dimensions of reality to which we are presently oblivious? Astonishing!

Now before you get the wrong idea let me say that God’s greatness is not a color, a flavor, a kind of music, a language or a place. These are created things. He is the Creator. The created order in which we live is finite, but it is filled with intimations of the infinite. Something of the Creator’s glory is seen in His creation (Rom. 1:20).

Could it be that these are simply hints at the greatness of our Creator? Maybe these are clues left to remind us that truly, God is greater than we know – or can ever know. Not even the transformation awaiting us at Christ’s return and not even the deliverance in a glorified state into God’s eternal heaven will enable us to exhaustively discover all that is true of God. True, “we know that when he appears . . . we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). Granted, “we know in part . . . but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears . . . Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known” (1 Cor. 13:9, 10, 12). This is true. But even then we will not be infinite. We will exist in redeemed finiteness. And it will be our eternal joy will be to spend forever discovering the wonder of His greatness.

So go for a walk through nature; notice and name the various shades of green, brown or orange you encounter. Go spice up dinner a little differently than you normally would or go try some ethnic food you’ve never sampled before. Listen even for a few minutes to a kind of music you aren’t naturally drawn to. Purposefully listen to a language that is foreign to you or learn a new word or two in English. Go to the library and spend some time reading about and wondering over pictures of a place you’ve never been.

Then turn your heart toward heaven and think again about God, who He is, the expansiveness of His character. Contemplate just how far His goodness, love, mercy, grace, holiness, and justice range in every direction. Then bow your head and lift your voice, confessing “Truly, O God, Your ‘greatness is unsearchable’!”

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