Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Psalm 27: Where You Gonna Run, Where You Gonna Hide?

"The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid." (v.1b)

We all look for a place to hide. We all have places where we run. We all search for shelter. We do this because we've all experienced, at various times and in many different ways, the danger of life in a fallen world. This world, broken by sin, really is a dangerous place.

There's the danger of being sinned against. Most of our experience of being sinned against takes place in the mundane little moments of everyday life. Maybe you're nursing the wounds from something someone said to you. Maybe you're dealing with the hurt of what someone did to you. They're not really big things, but they unsettle you and make you wonder whom you can trust. But being sinned against isn't always so mundane. Perhaps you've been hospitalized from injuries from a mugging. Maybe you're dealing with the devastation of an unfaithful spouse. Maybe you've lost your job as the result of the lies of someone who envied your position. There's no way of matriculating through this fallen world without being sinned against by someone at sometime.

There's the danger of living in a world that doesn't operate as was intended. We live in a world where things like racism, materialism, corrupt government, and war alter the lives of many. We live in a world where disease and pollution are virtually inescapable. We live in a world where earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis are present realities. The brokenness of the environment in which we live touches us all.

There's the danger of temptation and spiritual warfare. You and I really do live in a world where an evil one exists. There really is a cosmic battle going on. There's an enemy who wants to plant deceit, division, destruction, and death anywhere he can. You and I've never experienced even one day that's been free of seductive lies being whispered in our ears and seductive visions being held before our eyes. Temptation assaults all around and wear us down; such is life in the fallen world.

There's the danger that you are to yourself. Sin reduces all of us to fools. It makes right look wrong to us and wrong look right. It makes us want to live more for the moment than for long term gain. Sin makes us self-absorbed and self-focused. It causes us to be self-excusing and self-atoning. It makes us defensive and self-protective. It causes us to opt for individuality rather than community. The danger of the fallen world isn't only around us, it's inside us as well.

So, when you've been wounded by the dangers of this broken world, where do you run to for refuge? When you're perceptive enough to see the danger coming where do you run to for protection? When you're exhausted with the difficulty of the journey, where do you turn for rest and retreat? Do you run to other people, hoping that they'll be your own personal messiah? Do you run to food, numbing your mind with the edible glories of creation? Do you run to YouTube or your iPod hoping to distract yourself out of your pain? Do you drink more than you should or bury yourself in busyness? The problem with these things is that they were never designed to be a place of refuge for you. When you ask these things to be your shelter, you'll always be disappointed because their solace is temporary and they've no ability to heal the soul. But there's another thing; they always end up addicting you and, in so doing, hurt you as well. Take food, for instance. It gives me very quickly diminishing comfort, so I soon need more. You can see how this would end in a cycle of addiction.

You're gonna run, and you're gonna hide. Here's what you need to understand; there's only one true place of shelter. The Lord really is the world's only reliable stronghold. He has the power to protect you and he has the grace to restore your soul. He gives strength to the weary and returns the joy of the broken. He's able to renew you, body and soul. Heaven and earth obey his commands. He's the shelter of shelters, the only safe place to hide. He delights in holding you in the hollow of his hand. He takes joy in covering you in the shadow of his wing.

Today you'll run to something. Today you'll hide somewhere. Why not this time run to the Lord?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Psalm 27: Days of Beauty

"One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and seek him in his holy temple." (v.4)

I have a vision problem;
my eyes are okay,
but my heart
doesn't see very well.
I live in a world
where your beauty
is everywhere visible.
It is there
in the lily.
It is there
in the cascading wave.
It is there
in the multi-hued sunset.
It is there
in the stars of the night.
It is there
in the power of the storm.
It is there
in the rhythm of the rain.
It is there
in the grandeur of the mountain.
It is there in the
lace of the clouds.
It is there
in the succulence of the apple.
It is there
everywhere I look.
But often
I do not see your beauty.
I must confess
I am so blind.
I see
my busy schedule.
I see
things to be fixed.
I see
obstacles to my plan.
I see
bills to be paid.
I see
things to be done.
I see,
but I fail to see your beauty.
Yet there is more:
I call things beautiful
that are not beautiful to you.
I am attracted to things
that you call ugly.
I even begin to believe
that there are things
more beautiful
than you.
And I want these things more
than you.
So I serve these thing more
than you.
So, Lord
correct my vision.
Please restore
the eyes of my heart.
Graciously make
the days that I have left
to be
days of beauty
because my heart
is filled
with visions of you.