Friday, April 7, 2017
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am in distress. Tears blur my eyes. My body and soul are withering away. I am dying from grief; my years are shortened by sadness. Sin has drained my strength; I am wasting away from within. I am scorned by all my enemies and despised by my neighbors—even my friends are afraid to come near me. When they see me on the street, they run the other way. I am ignored as if I were dead, as if I were a broken pot. I have heard the many rumors about me, and I am surrounded by terror. My enemies conspire against me, plotting to take my life. But I am trusting you, O Lord, saying, “You are my God!” My future is in your hands. Rescue me from those who hunt me down relentlessly. Psalm 31:9-15(NLT)
“Be silent now and leave me alone. Let me speak, and I will face the consequences. Why should I put myself in mortal danger and take my life in my own hands? God might kill me, but I have no other hope. I am going to argue my case with him. But this is what will save me—I am not godless. If I were, I could not stand before him. “Listen closely to what I am about to say. Hear me out. I have prepared my case; I will be proved innocent. Who can argue with me over this? And if you prove me wrong, I will remain silent and die. Job 13:13-19(NLT)
For to me, living means living for Christ, and dying is even better. But if I live, I can do more fruitful work for Christ. So I really don’t know which is better. I’m torn between two desires: I long to go and be with Christ, which would be far better for me. Philippians 1:21-23(NLT)
Six years ago I felt like King David; my years were being shortened by sadness. I’d had an interview with the Board of Ordained Ministry and was deferred for a year. The reason given me was that I had too much sadness in my life; really?
I was angry at their decision for obvious reasons; their decision was a blow; I was being treated like a broken pot, set aside; oh, brother, can we say victim? You get the drift! But in hindsight, after some years of reflection I see things a lot more clearly. My mother had recently passed and, like King David, I’ve realized that when I’m sad, even my friends want to cross to the other side of the street when they see me.
In my angry grief at having my career delayed and feeling sidelined unfairly, like Job I learned to snip at those closest to me. The result was the church I was serving objected to a snippy preacher and our relationship suffered. (Spouses of snippy preachers aren’t all that thrilled with them either!). Eventually, like Job, I found myself emotionally alone, drowning in trying to figure-out what God was up to.
The apostle Paul found himself in a Roman jail under sentence of death by beheading. He had trouble figuring out if God wanted him dead or alive. And Paul didn’t know which was better. Frankly, I also wanted to quit; if God wasn’t going to use me like I thought He should, well…again, you get the drift!
There is one reality I shared with King David, Job, and Paul; eventually all four of us learned to place the whole mess we’d made of our attitude firmly in God’s hands and wait for the answer.
Folks…that ain’t easy!
Well, there is an up-side to this tale of woe. God used the circumstances to teach me an even greater trust with the smallish details of my life, and to accept where He is taking me as a man, husband, father, grandfather, (dare I say great-grandfather?) and as God’s servant.
I like that about God!
Those of you who live below the Mason-Dixon Line understand the meaning of the word, mess. Making a mess of greens means you’re going to also have cornbread for dinner. So, for you, today…if you’ve made a mess of your attitude, friendships, and other relationships and circumstances, give that mess to God; He will make a meal out of it that will surprise you!
I Title image: By Artist: Chaim Koppelman (Chaim and Dorothy Koppelman Foundation), via Wikimedia Commons