Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Word for Today - Daily Office

Psalm 138:1-3 [A David psalm] Thank you! Everything in me says "Thank you!" Angels listen as I sing my thanks. [2] I kneel in worship facing your holy temple and say it again: "Thank you!" Thank you for your love, thank you for your faithfulness; Most holy is your name, most holy is your Word. [3] The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength. 

COMMENT: I am reading a book for work that was written by a Christian business man - it is called The Energy Bus and is a fable that conveys some steps to becoming a positive person and leader - a person who gives and exudes energy, rather than sucking it right out of the room due to negativity. One of the practices the book condones is the regular practice of giving thanks - even in the worst of times and the most difficult of circumstances.

It seems to me that the Psalmists and poets and prophets and even the apostolic leaders knew that this was an important practice of faith - the regular offering of thanksgiving to God. It proceeds from a recognition that life is a gift - sheer gift - good and gracious gift - undeserved - saturated with God's own abundance. Thanksgiving is a response to the gracious activity of God in one's behalf. I especially like the way Peterson paraphrases verse 3 of Psalm 138 - The moment I called out, you stepped in; you made my life large with strength. 

This morning, as I think about the past few months of my life - reeling from the hurt and deep disappointment inflicted by the church and finding myself adrift at mid-career in ministry - I know I had a choice to make. I could continue to wallow in the bitterness and self-pity that too often accompanies this kind of experience - I have seen it happen so often in ministry colleagues. Or I could learn (again) and practice the grace of trust and thanksgiving. 

What I am now finding is that God is enlarging my life - expanding my influence and capacity to make a difference in the lives of others. I am thankful for the job I now have! I am thankful for the friends who stick beside me! I am thankful for my Journey group whose weekly gatherings around the word and our meals together are a reflection of what the church is really supposed to be about! I am thankful for the opportunity that God has given me to teach preaching at TNU and to now serve as Ambassador of Preaching! I am thankful for my family, for they are the source of daily joy in my life (especially as I talk to Kylie each day via webcam)! There is just so much to be thankful for!

I have found it to be so - The moment I called out to God in pain, hurt, confusion, self-pity, disappointment (Why me, Lord? How long, O Lord?) God did step in - and gave me a great gift - a perspective that perhaps comes best only by going through the fire. I have learned (again) that even when things don't work out the way you had hoped - God is still there... God still cares... and when you choose the road of gratitude, God takes the brokenness of our lives, makes us whole again, and opens up even better and larger doors for our lives to become the display of God's glory...

Isaiah 61:1-3 says it better than I can: The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to provide for those who mourn in Zion-- to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory. 

I rejoice today that God's comfort (the strength that comes by means of God's abiding presence) has been extended to me - God has replaced mourning with gladness, heaviness (or faintness) with joy and praise... God is raising me up as an oak of righteousness (yes, oaks do start out as nuts, I know). I am becoming, by grace, a planting of the LORD, to display God's glory. For this, and for all the goodness that God is bringing out of a very hurtful experience, I give thanks!

Soli Deo gloria

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