Monday, June 15, 2015

Reality Bends

I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.
Blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust,
who does not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after a lie!

You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!

I will proclaim and tell of them, yet they are more than can be told.
In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.
Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.
Then I said, “Behold, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me:
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”

I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation;
behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O Lord.
I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart;
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;..

But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!”
As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.
Psalm 40

Reflection – The ‘30’ series in the psalms has been, I will admit, kind of a rough one—lots of psalms of distress and anguish and cries of lamentation. All of that is part of life, and so all of it enters into the psalms which capture the whole of human life. But… it has been a bit of a rough go.

Things are looking up here with Psalm 40! This is one of the most beautiful psalms in the psalter, full of many poetic images that resonate deeply in our spiritual lives. “He drew me from the pit… set my feet upon a rock… put a new song in my mouth’ And then, later on, ‘Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required… I delight to do your will, O my God, your law is in my heart.’

And so on and so forth—a truly lovely psalm of deliverance and praise expressed in obediential love. The Letter to the Hebrews explicitly puts these words into the mouth of the Son of God coming into the world (Heb 10:5-7). And because our life is in Christ and Christ is our life, these words are ours, then, in a very particular way.

Obedience—the word we shy away from, the word that in our post-modern world is so very anathema to us. We are supposed to be able to create our own reality now, to decide for ourselves just what is true, what is false, what is good, what is evil. That these things should, and in fact do, come to us from outside ourselves, and that our fundamental response in life is to obey, to submit, to bow down before realities we did not make, cannot change, cannot control, but to which we are called to make a response, to act in concert with this God who is the author of all that is—this is (we are told) deeply repugnant to many people today.

Well, reality may bend, but it doesn’t break. And we can only bend it so far before it lashes back at us. We can choose contraception and abortion over many decades, but then we cannot choose not to live in an aging and bankrupt society. We can choose euthanasia, then, to get rid of all the expensive old people (let’s be honest – that’s what the push for it is about now), but there will be unintended consequences arising from that as well.

Reality bends, but it doesn’t break, and when we choose to shape reality according to our devices and desires, it will eventually break us. Meanwhile, God awaits for patiently, too, to pull us from the pit of destruction and the miry bog and to make our lives secure on the rock.

The rock is Christ who is Truth, and the result of living in truth is to live in praise, gratitude, and a new song that never grows old. And out of that song, a great desire to tell all the assembly of the saving power of God. So let us pray for the grace and courage, first to obey God and know His power in our lives saving us, and then to be evangelizers proclaiming this power to all our post-modern brothers and sisters, who need to hear about this, don’t you think?

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