Living Shadows: Reflection on Psalm 39

NOTE: This is part of my Psalm Reflection Series. See the whole series here (or Click “Reflecctions” Llnk).
Psalm 39:1-13

Mom’s Advice

I remember my mom telling me, “If can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” If she told me that once, she told me a million times (she also told me not to exaggerate, but some lessons are hard to learn). I can’t remember the events triggering her bit of wisdom, but I remember I wanted to say something to someone, and it wasn’t very nice.
Continue reading “Living Shadows: Reflection on Psalm 39”

Off the Treadmill – Reflection on Psalm 127

Reflection from Psalm 12723844169_a01041cb9c_b

1 Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord guards the city,
the guard keeps watch in vain.
2 It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives sleep to his beloved.
(Psalm 127:1-2 NLT)

Man Behind Me

He darts in and out of traffic like a jockey trying to get an inside position. Hurried and harried, he races by one car and then another. I wonder what he will do when he reaches the construction zone where two lanes become one. Sure enough, he continues to pass people trying to get as close as possible to where the two lanes join while others wait patiently in an ever growing line of vehicles.

Most people, not liking his technique, tailgate the car in front of them prohibiting him from pulling in front of them causing him to grow more aggressive, frustrated and angry.
I wonder why he feels the need to pass by others. Do rules not apply to him? Does he believe he has found a loophole? Does he feel he more important than all those he cuts in front of? Or, does he have an agenda, a schedule to keep, in order to attain all he desires?

The Pursuit of More

The man in the car behind me, well, now in front of me, causes me to pause; Why am I in such a rush? I can always justify my rushed life; deadlines, distractions, interruptions. But if I’m completely honest, I just want more.

There, I said it. I am rushed, busy, and hurried, because I want more. In order to get more, I must up my game, squeezing more minutes out of my hour, more hours out of my day, and more days out of my life.

Since I want more, I say “yes” to opportunities that come my way. Not wanting to miss out, I add one more responsibility to an already overbooked life. I want more for my family and kids, so I fill up my family’s calendar as well. The more I want, the faster I go creeping toward rushed and harried and finding myself passing others as I drive to the front of the line.

The Psalmist confronts me by telling me I labor in vain. I get up early and go to bed late, trying to gain a few more hours, but the Psalmist says it is for nothing. I believe that if I can squeeze more time out of my day, or more life out of my time, I can finally have peace and relax.

Happiness No Longer Lives Here

The Psalmist, living in a much different time, describes me perfectly. I would love to believe that my endless pursuit of more reflects contemporary culture, but given the Psalmist’s comments, I can’t say that. I suffer from a human tendency to forfeit God’s peace for false promises of peace.

I am really pursuing “what I think will make me happy.” While seeking happiness, happiness moves, sometimes without a forwarding address. The quest continues.

What Scripture tells us, research confirms; we are horrible of knowing what makes us happy. We believe we know what will make us happy, but once we ‘get’ whatever we seek, we are still unhappy. Spending time reflecting may reveal how we seek this, then that never finding what we truly desire.

If we find happiness, it lasts only for a short time. We get a new house and a few years later we want a better house. We get a new car and in a few years, rusted, dented, and breaking down, we need a new car. We get a new spouse… you get the idea. Time after time after time we prove that we don’t know what will make us happy, but we are unable, or unwilling to confess it. Madness. We live pure madness.

Off the Treadmill

The Psalmist shows a different way. Unless the Lord builds the house, we labor in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the soldiers watch in vain. In vanity we anxiously forgo what our body needs seeking to make “it” happen, believing if we simply get this one thing, then our life will be complete, finally make sense, and we will be happy. Here’s the sad reality: IT WON’T!

We get up early and go to bed late eating the anxious bread of toil for what? Why do we endlessly pursue more? Do we really believe that by pursuing more we will one day “arrive” and finally find peace or happiness? What are we ultimately chasing after? What would happen if we stopped chasing after the more and began seeking the “more than” resting in God’s loving arms?

We can get off the treadmill. Abiding in Jesus brings clarity and vision so we no longer have to pursue the “more” but rather pursue his “more than” bringing rest to our weary souls and lives. In Jesus we find peace, joy, and happiness.

An Honest Prayer

Thanks to someone in Men’s Group (Gary), I was finally able to find this clip after what seemed like years of searching. I have no idea when I saw the film, but I always remembered this prayer. At the time, I was a bit put off by it to be honest. Now I view it differently.

Today I see this as an honest prayer. Stewart’s character prays to give thanks to God, but the prayer focuses on all that Stewart has done to get what he has. His prayer shows that he believes he has what he has because of the strength of his back and the sweat of his brow. I say this prayer is honest because, for many, this is what they believe, but not necessarily what they pray. Even when we reflect Stewart’s feelings, we try to hide those feelings under words of thanks and gratitude. Our actions will give us away though.

Those who truly are able to see that all they have is a gift from God end up living differently (and praying differently). They live with gratitude and a thankfulness. They also are able to give back to God generously because they know that God has given everything to them. Knowing God has given everything to them, enables them to proceed in life with faith, giving to God along the way.

So, how do you really feel about what you have and where God fits into the picture of your blessings?

Morning Reflection 3/09/12 – Psalm 20

Prayer for Victory

To the leader. A Psalm of David.

1 The Lord answer you in the day of trouble! The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
2 May he send you help from the sanctuary, and give you support from Zion.
3 May he remember all your offerings, and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices. Selah
4 May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.
5 May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners. May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.
6 Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed; he will answer him from his holy heaven with mighty victories by his right hand.
7 Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses, but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
8 They will collapse and fall, but we shall rise and stand upright.
9 Give victory to the king, O Lord; answer us when we call.

via Psalm 20 (NRSV) –

Life seems easy for some people. Looks, however, can be deceiving. How many times have we thought that someone had an easy go of things, only to find out later how difficult their life really was. Life…is hard. Even though we have technology that promises to make life easier, most of the time those promises don’t materialize. Sometimes we even yearn for simpler days ignorantly believing that simpler days would be, well, simpler. They weren’t. Continue reading “Morning Reflection 3/09/12 – Psalm 20”