But for you, O LORD, do I wait;

it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.

For I said, “Only let them not rejoice over me,

who boast against me when my foot slips!”

Psalm 38: 15, 16

 

There are a couple of the really big aspects of David’s life on display in these few words. Firstly, he knew God, and also, he had some big experience in the area of foot slipping. David was well aware of the harm to his relationship with God that his disobedience and sinful passions had caused. He was also far too aware of the damage to his ability to lead as a Godly ruler and as a servant of the Lord that these sins had caused. His failures gave ammunition to his enemies and to those people who opposed the Lord. There is one simple answer to this problem for all of us, don’t sin. However, that answer doesn’t work so well for most of us.

 

Personally, I would like to blame God for any and all of my sinful departures from His will and way, for God is the designer and the maker of the drive, passions, and independence that leads to most of my wandering days. However, I know that the sinfulness of my heart is not the part of me that God designed. So, in response to the rebellion of the soul that my human ancestors grafted into the make up of all people, God provided His son, Jesus Christ, to me and to all of humanity as our answer to and our salvation from the death that sin assures. We need only to accept that answer in order to enter into a relationship with Christ that brings about transformation of the heart and the mind and the peace of security for our souls.

 

As each of us enters into the unfortunate inevitability of sin in our lives, we need to turn to Christ in repentance and confession of our sin. Then we can wait and listen to the voice of truth and righteousness as our Lord speaks to our hearts and guides our minds into His path of restoration and holiness. Sometimes that voice is loud and persistent and clearly direct, and at other times it seems to be silent as it forces us to wait and to listen so that our faith is stretched and our ability to hear is made deeper and strengthened within us. It is my faith in God that assures me of his answers even before they have become audible to my ears. It is my trust in God’s purpose and plans that leads me to rest in Him so that I allow my Lord to be my defender and my protector in this journey through the hostile land where I dwell.

 

You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

James 5: 8

 

James has just drawn a picture of patience as seen in the way that Palestinian farmers are dependant upon the cycle of the spring and fall rainy seasons for planting and for harvesting their crops. So too, God’s people are called to be patient so that we wait upon the cycles of God’s own plan. There is no easy way out of this life, and we cannot anticipate a quick and painless release from the burdens of relationship with our fellow worldly travelers. We live with absolute certainty of Christ’s return, but we have absolutely no knowledge of when that might come about.

 

Thus, we are to live as if it will happen in the next moment. This means that we are to stay continually submitted to Christ so that His love, grace, mercy, and peace are presented to everyone that we interact with throughout our days. This last hours of the final day attitude also means that we are to spare nothing in our efforts to repair damaged and broken relationships and that we can trust Christ to care for us when we make ourselves vulnerable to others. Another element of a heart that is set or established upon Christ in these days is that it breaks for the lost and is willing to sacrifice all for the sake of gaining their souls.

 

Christ wants for His followers to live in the full and complete hope of His promised return. In order to do this we are to be people who know our Lord well. We grow in this knowledge by means of on-going study of God’s word that is accompanied by meditation and contemplation upon what it is actually saying. Our relationship with God is further developed as we gather with other followers of Christ as His body and share life, worship, and prayer together in community. Additionally, we know God as we go out into our world and demonstrate to its inhabitants the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. To me, this life of meditation on God’s word, prayer, life in Christ’s body, and acting upon the Lord’s calling for my life is the description of a heart that is established on Christ; so, this is what being patient in Him is all about.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place that they should seek God, in all hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us.

Acts 17: 26, 27

 

God has a rather singular plan for all people. He has used all of the structure of this world in order to work out this plan. Yet much that God has established and is doing lies beneath the surface. It is like the “Deeper Magic” that C. S. Lewis speaks about in The Tales of Narnia. It is there all of the time, but we are too stubborn, self-centered, and arrogant to grasp hold of it and to allow its freedom to rule our lives. We need the structure of The Law and the false power of our own rules and regulations in order to govern and to create order in our society.

 

Yet, we often fail to fully understand that the society that we live in is something that God has designed and established. All of our nations with their distinctive qualities, good ones and bad ones, are tools in God’s plan. We take pride in our place of citizenship, and we hold tightly to national allegiances. Their histories are held up as narratives that prove that this country or that region of the world is invested with a form of inherent rightness that exceeds and that supersedes all other groups of people. However, they are all fatally flawed. There is no righteous nation on this earth. None of their governments will stand up under God’s judgment, and no one will find salvation based upon a pledge of allegiance to an earthly flag.

 

Futility is the thing that God is using to bring us to Him. The more we strive to make our national cause victorious, the more we will encounter the sting of impossibility. This is the groping in the dark that Paul is describing in this conversation with the Greek philosophers. Underneath all of our societal and cultural striving is a desire to find a form of god, a supreme and eternal authority that successfully controls all of life. However, God is not hidden. He is here for us to embrace. He makes Himself known in and through all of creation, and the Lord reaches out His hand to everyone in every region and nation of the earth. This is God’s singular plan. He seeks out relationship with all people and with each of us. He calls to us to repent of our worship of false gods and turn to Him alone.

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

Romans 11: 36

 

Here is the formula for living a balanced life. It has nothing to do with calendars, planning, right job, friends, social contacts, skills, education, or even sleeping enough and eating right. It has everything to do with an understanding of the fundamental orientation of life. It is based in the acceptance by each of us of the fact that we have little control over our life and even less say in its outcome, and this is not only alright, it is the best thing possible.

 

Of course, by saying “him” Paul is talking about God. In this section of Romans the Apostle is discussing God’s plan for salvation for all of us, and he is setting out the wondrous way that God has used the disobedience of Israel as a means for saving both Gentiles and Jews. Another way to put this is that all that we might plan to do, and all that we strive to accomplish in life is doomed to futility and failure if it does not come about as a result of and through our relationship with God. He is the source and the means for all that is worthy and worthwhile in our lives.

 

So, this idea, this life establishing and altering concept that God is my singular source and only valid way to live a full, balanced and effectual life is in itself a cause for praise and worship. As I meditate on God’s word and contemplate who He is, my Lord makes Himself known to me. He grants the understanding and the wisdom that I need for this day in my journey. Thus, my heart is led to offer praise and thanksgiving to God and to recognize my utter lack of resource without Him and my overabundance of it by and through His loving grace. In response I cry out, “To God be all glory this day and forever. Amen.”