Christianity 201

October 31, 2018

The God Whom We Trust With Our Destinies

Filed under: Christianity - Devotions — paulthinkingoutloud @ 5:33 pm
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Today our search took us to The Serener Bright, a site we’re featuring here for the very first time. Ian Graham describes himself as “a pastor, church planter, musician, songwriter, reader, and writer.” His church, Ecclesia, is located in West Trenton, New Jersey.

Psalm 26: Unflinching Trust

In honor of the life and legacy of Eugene Peterson, I will be using the Message version of the psalms as our text.

Psalm 26 sounds, on its face, like the self-righteous protestations of a deluded legalist. Is David really placing wagers on his own integrity (v. 1) in the presence of a holy, all-seeing God? He even invites God to perform open-heart surgery on him, examining the hidden caverns of his life (v. 2). So what are we to do with a psalm that most of us would never claim is true of our own experience? How do we pray this along with David with a straight face?

What David expresses here is a visceral, unflinching trust. It may sound as though he is unwilling to confess his own sinfulness but that misses the point. This psalm is not about who David is, this psalm is about who God is. The steadfast love of God is the branch that David clings to, holding fast in the rushing currents of falsehood and idolatry. Left to his own devices, David would be swept along with the sinners, the devious, the frauds. But David’s life is not defined merely by his own actions, his life flows from a deep river of confession, worship, and prayer.

I scrub my hands with purest soap,
then join hands with the others in the great circle,
dancing around your altar, God,
Singing God-songs at the top of my lungs,
telling God-stories.
God, I love living with you;
your house glows with your glory. 

The Message, vv.6-8

He expresses his trust in the means that God has provided for purification. He recalls rapturous times of worship in the presence of God and the community. His life is shaped by story and song both of what God has done and his own experience with God. Everything for him starts from a deep and personal encounter with God.

David invites us to a faith that is embraced in momentary acts of faithfulness, where the words of our mouths and the state of our hearts are constantly presented to God for examination. God’s presence is a fire, engulfing and purifying every corner of his life. We can trust that God’s presence will not simply rubber stamp our agendas, or provide us with good feelings to get us through the day, but it will provide a way forward, a way of openness, of integrity, of transformation.

David beautifully conveys the meaning of life: God, I love living with you. David’s life before God expresses the poles of this life: exuberant displays of abandon in the congregation where everything is in its right place and a life of contemplative nearness in the midst of ambiguity and brokenness, a life lived up close to God. Openness, vulnerability, this is the life that is oriented to God’s presence. Trust is the foundation of this life, a trust that says God is exactly who he has shown himself to be, abundant steadfast love and thus, I can trust that I am exactly who he says I am: beloved.

Christian faith is not neurotic dependency but childlike trust. We do not have a God who forever indulges our whims but a God whom we trust with our destinies.” -Eugene Peterson


Take some time to read another devotional from the same author, continuing through the Psalms:


As we write this, Laruen Daigle, an extremely popular Christian music artist, is enjoying unprecedented chart success. A previous album, released in 2015, contains this song about trusting God, which has been seen by 71 million people.

 

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