Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell In the land and enjoy safe pasture. Delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust 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)
I am a list guy. As much as I might try to deny it, it is true. I like to make lists and I like, even more, to check things off. I have even been known to write things on my list that I have already completed, just for the joy of checking them off. I know, I know, it is a sickness. I guess one of the reasons for this strange compulsion is that I have spent most of my life in one kind of vocational ministry or another, which is a life and a calling that seldom leads to being able to check things off a list. Being involved in the lives of people isn't that neat and tidy. It is often messy and is relentlessly ongoing.
Unfortunately, because of this obsession with lists, I can sometimes treat my spiritual life with the same type of attitude. Read the scriptures. Spend time with God. Pray. Check, check, and check. Not very conducive to the life of God growing within me.
Who knows, maybe King David had the same problem. But maybe he learned the wisdom of discerning what things actually need to be on the list and what things do not. Take Psalm 37, for instance. In verses 3-8 there is a "to do" list. But it is not just any to do list; it is a list that gets right to the heart of what life with God is really all about. Just look at the things David says to do: trust, do good, dwell, enjoy, delight, commit, trust (once again), be still, and wait patiently. Now that's a list I can get excited about. That is a list that is actually far more about being than it is about doing.
And look at the one thing he says not to do--fret. For fretting leads only to evil. Fretting actually dries up the life of God within us. It fills us so full of ourselves and our problems, worries and dilemmas that it leaves no room within us for the movement of God's Spirit.
So if you are looking for a little spark, a little guidance and direction in your life with God, why not take David's words to heart? Allow the words of this ancient prayer to take up residence within you. Allow them to teach you the movements and rhythms of God's grace. That is what the Psalms do. In the words of Eugene Peterson, "The psalms train us in the conversation with God that is prayer."
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