Seek (Sunday)—Psalm 63

 

God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; 

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, 

In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, 

To see Your power and Your glory. 

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, 

My lips will praise You. 

So I will bless You as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands in Your name.

My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,

And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips. 

When I remember You on my bed, 

I meditate on You in the night watches,

 For You have been my help, 

and in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 

My soul clings to You; 

Your right hand upholds me. Psalm 63:1-8 NAS

We are asking you King David, “Are our lives with God to resemble a war or a romance? If this really is a war, are we to wait for the rapture so we can be taken up, equipped in heaven to return one day, armed with our long awaited new bodies? Or, in Christ, do we have all we need in this life to defeat the enemy? And, David, if you know, could you tell us whether the kingdom is more of a sole proprietorship in which God reigns supreme in spite of us; or, is it more like a partnership in which its success involves our participation?”

In our western culture with its fixation on black and white, we have little tolerance for things in the grey zones of uncertainty, those arenas of mystery that do not bow the knee nor yield simple answers to reason alone. No, we want those facts that will get us promoted, elected or produce things more efficiently. Our titles and accomplishments are the undisputed measures of worth in our culture. But what about God’s kingdom? Where do these values fit in with that culture?

Locked inside this western wineskin, we dare not as Christians acknowledge how little we really know. Can you imagine what it would do to Christianity as we know it if we were to abandon our certainties regarding the black and the white, those things we believe we know beyond a doubt about God? In light of our lean experience with this Being of limitless dimension, perhaps we should exchange our certainty and bold assertions for simple questions. How much of what we know, for instance, consists of our opinions, which have evolved into convictions and rigid creeds, incompatible with the richer, more mysterious wine that God aspires to serve?

Just for the record, the mystery I am referring to all happens within these bounds…

I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth, and in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived of the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He arose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.

This being said, do we really know enough about God’s ways to divide our selves into Calvinist and Armenian camps? I know people who will die on these fields of battle. There are cessationists mentally locked into battle with continuationists. Are we really that certain about these things? Before a rightfully skeptical world we stand divided–a city set upon a hill for sure, but casting a strange and not so convincing light upon our surroundings. We are a highly visible spectacle, but of the wrong sort. Instead of the unity God desires, we portray division. In this condition we are not conveying an accurate picture of God and His love. While we are at odds with each other, we don’t appear to be anything more than another dysfunctional earthly community. From the world that Jesus is reaching out to, we don’t hear an “amen.”  We here, if we are listening a, “No way.” (There are currently 33,000 denominations.)

What can we learn from David then, whose heart seems to so often be schizophrenic and undecided? A great deal, I believe. We can hear David’s ‘yes’ to our questions: ‘Yes’, life with God is a trek through the desert where hunger and thirst feel as though they will overcome us. And, ‘Yes’, life with God is like a joyous dance in fields ripe for harvest. ‘Yes’, life with God is a ferocious, high-stakes battle. And, ‘Yes’, it is a partnership and, ‘Yes’, while it is making no earthly sense to us now, God is the proprietor who is solely and absolutely in control. And, ‘Yes’ his children are mission critical. The sum of these yes’s = mystery, at least to me.

What I learn from David, the man after God’s own heart, is that God’s ways are exceedingly higher than mine—that God, in Christ, has set out a banquet for the hungry, right in the very presence of their enemies. Christ’s Spirit is the Living Water and Jesus is the Bread of Life. This is true whether we perceive our circumstance as a drought, a flood, a dance or a duel.

I believe the value of mystery (appreciation of the vast arena of uncertainty) is something David passed down to his son. Solomon, in his wisdom, tells us how we should posture our hearts in the presence of so much glorious unknown:

             Trust in the Lord with all your heart,

            And do not lean on your own understanding. 

            In all your ways acknowledge Him, 

            And He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6 NAS

God becomes our God in the same way he became David’s. He becomes ours as we learn to trust him in the midst of the mystery of life. It may feel like a battle or a desert when God knocks the props out from under us. If we are dependent on our understanding, He knows it will ultimately be very costly to us. God becomes ours in the midst of our deserts when we, as partners, place our trust in that which we cannot see or understand.

God becomes ours when we ascend to places with panoramic views where we can look back with thanksgiving on his faithfulness in our driest and hungriest moments. Those who persevere with God, taste of something from another world. They learn, experientially that nothing in this world slakes their thirst or satisfies their hunger other than God alone. In the desert God becomes our Living Water, and on the mountain we see and give thanks. Both the battles and the feasts are natural and critical.

Thanks you, King David, for your transparency. Thank you for modeling gut level emotional and intellectual honesty. Thank you for showing us how your God becomes our God.

 God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;

My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, 

In a dry and weary land where there is no water. 

Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary, 

To see Your power and Your glory. 

Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,

My lips will praise You.

So I will bless You as long as I live;

I will lift up my hands in Your name. 

My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,

And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.

When I remember You on my bed,

I meditate on You in the night watches, 

For You have been my help, 

And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 

My soul clings to You; 

Your right hand upholds me.

Father, whatever it takes, knock the props out from underneath us so that when we stand before you, it will be Christ alone in whom we have trusted and not someone else’s god or their convictions. May we stand before you, not as strangers on that day who followed other’s journeys, but as those who came to know you personally in the journey we travelled together through all the varied terrain of your kingdom. Amen.

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