Bread – Turn

February 11, 2016


Psalm 6

“Turn, O Lord, deliver my life; save me for the sake of Your steadfast love…I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.  My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes.”  Ps. 6:4,6-7

Just before David says, “Turn, O Lord,” he asks God to be gracious to him because he is “languishing.”  In our first Bread on this Psalm, we talked about depression  and how we all find ourselves in trouble, when God seems angry with us.

This is a continuation of that same thought, where David is asking the Lord to turn and then repeats how depressed he is, stating that he is weary, that he is moaning our of his weariness, that his eyes fail because of his grief, and he feels surrounded by enemies, real and imagined.

The image is one of God having turned his back to David and David begging with him to turn around, comprehend David, and in turn be merciful to David “for the sake of [God’s] steadfast love.

My question is, is this the right image?

Certainly it is from our perspective.  We are depressed, we feel lonely, we feel abandoned, our eyes and bones hurt, we cry, we moan … and God has left the station, He has left us behind.

We say this because it feels to us like God has left us.

But is that true?  Who has turned their back to whom?  Who has left whom?

In other words, has God left us or have we left God?  Has God turned His back to us or have we turned our back to God?

When David prays that the Lord return to him, is it the Lord who returns to David or David who returns to the Lord?

What is interesting about this question is that it brings back images of the prodigal son, where it was the son who realized that his position with the pigs, with the depression, was caused by his disobedience, and things did not begin to get better until he (the prodigal) returned to the father.  And, actually, because the father saw the son from far off and ran to him, it was really the intention of the son to return to the father which starts the avalanche of restoration of relationship.

So recalling this parable, one is immediately inclined to jump on board the idea that it was really David who needed to return, that God was where He had always been.

But, now I want to argue against myself – maybe David is right.  Maybe in David’s dilapidated state, depressed, moaning, sore of bone and spirit, languishing, he cannot turn to the Lord, much less return to Him.  In other words, for David to be rescued from himself and his situation, can he even take the initiative or must God take the initiative?

We like to think that it is us, and that is where most of us begin and end.  It is all on us.  We lift ourselves out of the pits by returning to the Lord.

But the truth is, the greater truth, the deeper truth, is that salvation belongs to the Lord and the Lord alone.  If we are to be rescued, it must be God who turns toward us and not us toward God.

“Be gracious to me, O Lord…”  Lord, show me Your mercy by rescuing me even though I deserve Your wrath because of my disobedience.

So, built into this simple request from David are two turns.  The first turn is from David taking his focus off of his troubles to turn to God and address Him for help.  And the second is God, in His sovereignty and from a heart of love and mercy, turning toward David to rescue him.

And the remarkable thing about all this is that by the time David asks the Lord to turn toward him, He already has.  How do we know that?  Because there is no power in David to ask but for God’s power to make it so.

David can ask God to turn toward him and save him because God has first turned toward David and saved him.

So, when David cries from the pits for God to turn and save his life, God can truly answer and say, “Son, I already have.”

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© 2016 GBF   All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version (2001), unless otherwise indicated.

 

 

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Bread – Repent

November 14, 2012


Readings for Wednesday, November 14, designated by the 1979 Book of Common Prayer: Joel 2:12-19; Rev. 19:11-21; Luke 15:1-10; Psalms 81,82,119:97-120

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In Monday’s Bread, we dealt with the apocalyptic messages of total destruction for those persons who have not repented and trusted in Jesus Christ.

In today’s readings, the focus is on avoidance of that destruction. That avoidance begins with repentance.

Listen to Joel – “’Yet even now,’ declares the Lord, ‘return to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.’ Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12-13. Notice that repentance does not come from speaking a particular set of words or a demonstration of religiosity or ceremony, it comes from a “rendered heart,” one that is broken, one that realizes there is no hope in man apart from God, one that realizes that he or she needs God for everything, one who looks at what he or she has done or not done and realizes that there is nothing but sin, that there is no health in him or her. A rendered heart may occur in bed, in the reading room, in the board room, in the bathroom, in the mountains, on the seashore, in prison, while out of a job and with a job. A rendered heart may happen at any time and anywhere when we return to Him who has created us, understanding our poverty completely, and acknowledging His free gift of life to us who are totally unworthy of even receiving a crumb from His table.

Listen to John in Revelation – “Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The One sitting on it is called Faithful and True .. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords … And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet …These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. And the rest [of mankind, who had not repented and returned to the Lord] were slain by the sword that came from the mouth of Him who was sitting on the horse…” Rev. 19:11,15b-16, 20-21 The white horse stands for victory and the rider of the white horse is Jesus Christ. Those who follow the beast die; those who do not bear the mark of the beast, who have repented and trusted in Jesus Christ, live in victory.

Finally, in Luke we have a description of what happens when a person repents and trusts in Jesus. “Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance…Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” Luke 15:7,10

Have you caused joy in heaven already? If not, wouldn’t you like to? If so, begin by repenting.

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© 2012 GBF

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