O LORD, make me know my end

and what is the measure of my days;

let me know how fleeting I am!

Psalm 39: 4

 

Let me say that David must have been in a very odd mood on the day that he set out these words. This is just not the sort of thing that I would want God to reveal for me, and David doesn’t strike me as a person who was more morbid than I am or than most others are either. Yet, he asks for an image, a picture, of where this life comes to its end as if that would appear on his calendar as one of those automatic prompts that self-populate mine. That would be strange and troubling; it might look somewhat like this, “Last Hour of Final Day of Life, Start: 4:00 P.M. End: 5:00 P.M.” In fact, I think that David is actually doing something very different than reflecting on the end of his days here; rather, he is actually entering into living his life more righteously and with clearer God-directed purpose.

 

This Psalm is a lament. The author is distressed and troubled by the way that his life is going, and he is also taking responsibility for the ways that it has gone off track. God has a plan for David’s life just as He has one for each of us. David admits to his own sinfulness and owns his frustrations with the outcome of those departures from righteous thought and action. As we read his thoughts, we are invited to join David in reflecting upon our own lives, and we are guided into owning the ways that we are turning away from God as we conduct life in a manner that we have determined and that we attempt to control outside of submission to God’s Word, His will, and the Spirit’s direction. So, considering the end of it all is of very real importance.

 

This is that point that we all will face where we no longer can change any of the course of our life. What we have done is completed, and the way that we will be remembered is established by those expressed thoughts and emotions, the deeds completed, and the others that were left undone. This is not stated as a form of defeatist resignation, but, instead, I see this sort of process as one in which we look at the place where we are in life, own the sin that is there, and submit it and the other aspects of our existence to following Christ in service to His Gospel. The place where we are on that track through our days doesn’t matter. If this is the last of those allotted hours, let them be lived in praise to God and for His glory. If there are thousands of days to go until that end, let them all be ones that are committed to Christ and to proclaiming Him in thought, word, and action. The specific moment of that final breath does not matter, what does count is the way that each of our breaths sing out praise and glory to the Lord!

 

 

By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Luke 21: 19

 

This is probably one of the strangest pre battle speeches that was ever given. Jesus has indicated to His soldiers that they are more likely than not to die in the course of the affairs that are soon to enfold. He also reassures them greatly, I am sure, when He tells them that He will certainly die before the contest is finished. These are not the kinds of things that commanders tell their troops or that coaches speak to get their teams ready for what is coming. Yet, Jesus is honest. He was so with His disciples, and He remains brutally honest to this day. Truth is the foundation of what He offers, and this truth is something that equips each of us to follow Christ along the path that He has determined for us and into the our callings as His body.

 

Just before His arrest, trial, and execution Jesus gave the people who were committed to Him a very graphic picture of what the world would look like for them in the days to come. These same images, with their own evolutionary twists and a few modern adjustments, apply to our times as well. The disciples were engaged in a contest with evil for the souls of people and for the righteous care of the rest of creation, and we are involved in a continuation of that same struggle. They were not battling against a culture that had gone astray, and we are not primarily warring against one that has gone off its rails, either. You can almost pick your own metaphor for it all as we let the genie out of the bottle, or we made our own bed, or possibly we tipped over the apple cart. Regardless of how we say it, we people determined that we had it right and that God’s way was an impediment to our greater good. Thus, we will spend our lives in the midst of this struggle against the evil that we set free.

 

This fight will be costly. There is no way around this fact as there is no easy path, no fast-pass lane to buy our way through it all. We get to live each day as it is delivered to us, and we will get to experience the struggles and the losses that will come to us. Yet, the struggle is not the end of the story. In fact, the struggle is just our tale of faith’s beginning point. Christ enters into each of these days with us, and He takes us with Him into this contest with all that is standing in opposition to Him and to God’s righteous love. With Christ we are here to seek out souls who are in need of a Savior, and we are tasked with pouring out His love, grace, mercy, and peace upon the people and the world where we dwell. Again, this is not a battle with culture or even with the systems of this world; rather, this life that we have been granted by Christ is to be lived out in purposeful testimony to the God that we serve and to Jesus Christ who saves. As we stay true to this course and allow Christ to provide us with the strength to complete the mission that He has given to us, we will be truly alive and live out our allotted days surrounded by the presence of the Lord.

I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever;

With my mouth I will make known your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 89: 1

 

In our world thoughts and expressions of love are easy to find and highly prevalent. Love can be found on almost every street corner and in most of our gathering places. We pledge it to other people, and we express it for everything from snack foods to vacation locations. Yet, we live in a lonely and a frustrated society that is filled with unfulfilled yearnings and painful rejection and loss. With so much love afoot, there are very few people who seem to know it at a deeply personal level. Although there is a great deal of chatter about love, there seems to be only a slight glimmer of understanding of it in our world.

 

So, God wants us to sing a different song than the ones that are popular in our days. This is why God wants us to sing about His love for us. This is the need behind His desire for those whom He loves to express that love openly and publicly. The Lord has no personal need for people to let Him know that we love Him. God is aware of everything, and He is absolutely secure in this knowledge and in His position. When we express our love for God, we are the ones who benefit. It is this expression that helps us solidify in our hearts and our minds the fact that God does love us in ways that are total, absolute, and unchanging. He quite literally brought love into this world which has become heart sick with sin. Christ came into our world in an act of sacrificial loving of all of humanity so that we all could know God’s face-to-face embrace of love in this life and for eternity.

 

Still, knowing God’s love in a profoundly personal manner is not enough. Christ does not intend for each of us to keep it to ourselves. His heart is pained by the loneliness and the fearful anger that people endure while attempting to live in this world. Our Lord wants to be the salvation and the restoration for the hearts of each of these lost souls. That is why He implores His people to sing out in choruses of recognition and praise for the reliable and true love that is ours from God and in Christ. As we grow in our knowledge of God, we also gain in our understanding of His love in ways that should make its expression to others a part of who we are. God’s infinite and perfect love is expressed when we reach out to embrace the unlovely, when we yield our comfort for the rights of others, as we speak truth regardless of the personal risk, and in our world through lives that are openly and freely committed to Christ.

 

 

Thus says the Lord:

“This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles       at my word.”

Isaiah 66: 1a, 2b

 

There is an unending dialogue that takes place inside of my own mind. This sort of self conversation happens on a rather continual basis, and it revolves around the tension that exists between my own skills and competency and my deep-seated insecurities. On the one hand I am drawn toward the strengths that God has allowed me to gain, but on the other stands insecurity, doubt and fear. The human tendency in these situations is to either charge ahead trusting my own abilities or it is to shrink away from the task at hand doing nothing. Neither of these approaches guarantees the best of outcomes.

 

As I look at this functional conflict in life, I am faced with another practical dichotomy. It is true to state that the Lord equips and empowers us with what we need to face all that life brings our way. It is also true that God desires for us to continually and fully recognize and be submissive to our total neediness, to our complete reliance upon Him. We are fully equipped and capable, and through Christ, we can be confident; yet, we are absolutely incapable of living righteously on our own. The solution to this quandary is found in the fact that God did not create us to be on our own. He desires for people to be involved with Him in a loving and a totally committed relationship. The Lord possesses great gifts that He desires to grant to us as we seek His face and submit to His will.

 

Perhaps the key to living in a righteously bold manner is found in the resolution of this tension. People need to contemplate and to recognize the many ways that God has gifted us with the blessing of all that we require to follow His will in this life. However, we must also remain completely submitted to that will and to God’s word. True submission is not something to be taken lightly or to be assumed. It is contrary to much of what we are taught in this world and to the way that our culture operates. It is certainly not the language of our public discourse. Yet, in fact, real strength and lasting confidence are based upon an attitude in which we yield our hearts and minds to God in humble submission and recognition of our complete brokenness. As I come before the King with my hands trembling in recognition of my inadequacy in relation to His righteousness and glory, my Lord takes hold of them, steadies me, and goes forward with me into a life of confident service to Him.