Tuesday, July 22, 2014

delight

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.  Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun.  Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret...(Psalm 37:3-7)  


Trust.  Dwell.  Enjoy.  Delight.  Commit.  What an incredible collection of words!  And all in one place to boot.  It is almost as if, here in Psalm 37, God is trying to show us how desirable this life with him really is; particularly when contrasted with the life of fretting--which is another significant word in the Psalm.  Don't fret your way through life, but instead trust in Me, dwell in the land I have given you, enjoy the safe pasture that only I can provide, delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart--because to delight in Me IS the desire of your heart. 

The word for fret is charah which means to be hot, furious; to burn with anger, or to kindle harsh feelings.  It is where we get the word charred.  I don't know about you, but I fret a lot.  Someone will say something that I interpret the wrong way, or I will do something that doesn't turn out quite like I want it to and bingo...fret.  It starts a fire within me that burns and stews and smolders.  One that I try to keep hidden, try to keep a lid on, which makes it continue to burn and burn deep in my heart.  Eventually it will come out, and when it does it is bound to char somebody. 

"Don't do that," David tells us, "It leads only to death."  Duh!  It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out, but still somehow I have trouble remembering it anyway.  Most notably, the death that fretting leads to is the death of your soul.  And God longs for life for us.  So he tells us that instead of fretting, "Delight yourself in the Lord."  The word for delight is anag which means to live softly or delicately; to allure or entice.  It is used of the amorous gestures of a woman.  It is a very seductive word.  It invites us into a very passionate and intimate posture with our God; a deep romancing, if you will.  That is what God truly desires both for us and from us.  When we delight ourselves in him--when we enter in to that Sacred Romance--then, and only then, will the deepest desires of our hearts be met.  So how could we possibly choose to do anything else.  Today, let's delight in him.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

come

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)


I don't know about you, but the very sound of these words does something deep within me.  They make something come to life, something stand on tip toe, something leap within my soul.  I guess it is because my soul longs deeply for true rest.  The word used here for rest is anapauo, which means to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength.  How's that for a definition? 

Our souls also long to be filled.  Therefore, our lives are one long movement in the direction of pursuing our deepest longings.  The problem is that we stop too soon--too near the top.  When we taste something that tastes good to our soul, we assume that that is what our soul was made to be filled with.  And so there we go, charging off in the direction of that person or that thing, trying to extract something from them that they were never intended (or able) to fully give us.  C. S. Lewis said it so well: The books or the music in which we thought the beauty was located will betray us if we trust to them; it was not in them, it only came through them, and what came through them was longing. These things—the beauty, the memory of our own past—are good images of what we really desire; but if they are mistaken for the thing itself they turn into dumb idols, breaking the hearts of their worshippers. For they are not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. (Weight of Glory by C. S. Lewis)  In other words, the deepest, most wonderful things of this life were never intended to fully satisfy us, but to point us forward...to God.

We also stop too soon in our definition of rest.  Most often, when we hear the word rest, we think of bodily rest; and rightly so because that is a significant part of the picture.  Bodily rest is important and affects everything else about us.  But it is, however, only a small part of a much larger picture.  For the rest that Jesus is talking about here is much deeper.  Jesus is offering us soul restOur soul is the deepest part of  us.  It is our essence, who we really are inside, our innermost being.  And it was made to be filled and brought to life by God and God alone: And the Lord God formed man out of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)  That is the part of us to which Jesus is offering rest.  Deep soul rest that gives us the freedom from running around desperately trying to have our longings met by people and things that were never intended to meet (fully) those deepest longings.

So when he says to us, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened," he is offering us an invitation to leave behind all of the ways we are trying to perform (weary), and let go of the heavy load of trying to achieve (burdened).  To stop chasing recognition and affirmation and connection and security, from anyone and anything under the sun, and turn to him.  He is inviting us to take up his yoke.  He is inviting us to have all of the deepest longings of our hearts and souls met in him; with no more running, or posturing, or jockeying.  That is what will give us real soul rest.  So come...