Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Psalm 27: Take Heart

" strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (v.14)

You've heard it said many times, "Take heart, this too will pass," or, "Take heart, it's not as bad as you think it is,", or, "Take heart, you love one another, this will eventually work out." Usually when you hear the words, "take heart" someone is trying to make you feel better about something that's got you down. Maybe it's a tough circumstance that you're having to endure, a hurtful moment in a relationship, or a disappointment you have to face. The "take heart" response of the person who's near you is an attempt to temporarily alter your feelings about the thing that's upset you. The person speaking means well, but the "take heart" they offer you doesn't really offer you much to hold on to. You stand in the middle of something that's bigger than you and over which you've no control and you're invited to hope that it isn't as bad as it seems. Well, that's an offer of hope that, when examined, doesn't really give you any concrete reason to be hopeful.

Psalm 27 ends with a "take heart," but this "take heart" offers a very different hope than we often offer one another in moments of difficulty and disappointment. What makes this "take heart" different is that it's a call to wait on the Lord. It isn't about trying to change emotions; rather it's an invitation to rest in the one place where rest can really be found; in the Lord.

Who is this one in whom you can "take heart?"

1. He's the definition of love. Scripture says something amazing about the love of God. It doesn't simply say that God is committed to faithful love. It doesn't just say that God loves you even when you don't deserve his love. It doesn't only say that he loves you better than anyone else will ever love you. No, what the Bible says about God can't be said about anyone else. It says that, "God is love." God is the essence, the source, the ultimate definition of love; and love that's true love has God as its source. If there was no God there would be no love. I can "take heart" because my life is held in the hands of the One who is the essence of love.

2. He's the source of all wisdom. In Colossians 2, the Apostle Paul says that, "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ." Think how radical this is. As believers in Jesus Christ, we know that wisdom isn't an outline, a theology, or a book. We know that wisdom is a Person and his name is Jesus. You get true wisdom, not by experience, education, or research, but by relationship. When you come to Christ you're now in a personal relationship with the One who is wisdom. You can "take heart" because the One who holds you defines everything that wisdom is about.

3. He's a God of awesome power. How do you do justice to describing the power of God. There's nothing to which it can be compared. There are no analogies to it to be found anywhere in the created world. The thunder storm, the tempestuous sea, the hurricane, and the tornado, with all of their great power contain an infinitesimal fraction of the power of God. This is the One who created the world and everything that's in it. This is the One who holds the world together simply by the exercise of his will. When you rest in him, you can "take heart" because he really does have the power to deliver everything he's promised you.

4. This is a God of unchallenged rule. In Daniel 4 we are reminded that God rules over the "host of heaven and the inhabitants of earth." We are further reminded that no one has the authority to stop his hand or question what he does. God is in absolute control over the world he made. What he wills happens. His plan will be done. His kingdom will be established. He won't lose any of the children he's chosen to be his own. When I'm in difficulty and I run to God, I'm running to the One who's in absolute control of every circumstance that appears to me to be out of control. Now that's a reason for "taking heart!"

5. He's a God of glorious grace. God's grace means that I can rest assured that I'll have everything I need to be what he wants me to be and to do what he wants me to do in the situation in which he's placed me. I'm no longer restricted to the limits of my own strength and wisdom. By his grace, I've a new identity and a new potential. I'm a child of God; the risen Christ now lives inside of me. I need no longer fear people or circumstances; I don't have to feel weak in the face of suffering or temptation, because I no longer rest in the resources of my own ability. I'm in Christ and he's in me. This new identity gives me new potential as I face the realities of life in this bent and broken world. God's grace gives me reason to "take heart."

When I'm in difficulty and I "take heart" in the Lord, rather than be weakened by the difficulty, I grow stronger. The more I meditate on the glory of God, the more my faith grows; the more my faith grows the more I respond to life with hope and courage; the more I respond to life with hope and courage, the more I harvest the new fruit in concrete changes in the situations and relationship that I am facing.

If you're God's child, you have reason to "take heart," no matter what you're facing.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Psalm 27: Not Yours

"My heart says of you, "Seek his face!" (v.8)

I cannot say my heart is pure,
not because it is riddled with lust
stained with hatred,
but because
it does not always long for you.
My heart longs,
for comfort and ease,
for power and control,
for possessions and position,
for acceptance and recognition.
It longs for so many of the things
that carry the promise of
Yet, my heart is wired for you,
to only rest in the rest found
in You.
It would be easy to reason
that I am okay.
I am not a thief.
I am not a murderer.
I have not stolen the spouse of another.
But this reality I cannot escape,
my heart is not pure,
because it does not always
long for you.
I have hated in my heart.
I have stolen with my thoughts.
I have lusted in secret.
I have done all these things
because my heart
doesn't always belong to you.
Lord, once more draw my heart to You.
Capture my thoughts.
Command my desires.
Submit my will.
Direct my plans.
Make my heart pure,
not because it is free of struggle,
but because,
it no longer seeks,
that inner sense of well-being
in You.
When my heart finds life in you,
It will not longer
seek it in another.
I wish I could say I am pure,
but the battle still rages,
and rescue is still needed,
so that the longings of my heart,
will not pull me away,
but will draw me
ever closer
to You.