Galatians 6:9 is encouragement for those of us who sometimes (often?) get tired of trying to always do the right thing. “Don’t grow weary in doing what is right.” it tells us. Reading the Psalms, especially those of David, can at times get exhausting for me. He goes on and on and on with how righteous he is, and how screwed up everyone else is. And, I think to myself, I simply cannot relate to David. I don’t think I’m a bag of chips and all that. So, how refreshing it was to come to Psalm 73, composed by Asaph. Although there is some speculation as to who he was, one thing is for certain. He is not David. He doesn’t have a list of all the great things he has done for God. No, in fact, he opens with a confession (my paraphrase):
I’m pretty sure that God is favorable to the good-guys, but me, I’m a screw up, so I wonder. (v.1-2a)
I tripped up when I got jealous, hearing the braggarts, seeing how evil people seemed to fare just fine. (v.2b-3)
<insert a litany of how bad guys end up on top> (v.4-10)
And then they have the nerve to say, “How is God going to know?” (v.11)
<insert more litanies of the things bad guys do> (v.12)
Sometimes I think my attempts at a spiritual life are in vain. (v.13)
And this thought nags at me, because I know it’s not right. (v.14)
And then I just stuff my feelings. (v.15)
And this inner turmoil, I do not understand it, so I seek ways to numb the pain it causes me. (v.16).
And, then, all of that confusion just melts away when I finally experience God. It hits me, suddenly, when finally I am aware of God’s presence. (v.17)
This is always how it is for me, so here is a Psalm I can relate to. It’s so easy to get caught up in the mess of the world, in other’s junk, to struggle to do the next right thing, and continually feel like we are getting nowhere. So … screw it. And, just when we are about to really mess things up, God comes along. Well, God is always there, but it feels like God just shows up, unannounced, sometimes, when, truly, I just needed to get myself out of the way so I could recognize God in my life. And everything falls into perspective. God is God, and I’m not. What a load off! Maybe I’ll just focus on me and not those other guys. Novel.
This psalm, when we turn the tables on ourselves, raises several questions, so I leave these with you, to use for your meditations and journaling:
- What is tripping you up lately? Where are you stumbling? What might you do differently? (v.2)
- What makes you jealous? Why? What’s behind that? (v.3)
- When have you shown pride lately? How does it manifest itself? Is pride ever justifiable? (v.6)
- How is it that our eyes can “bulge with abundance?” Does this sting a little when you think about your own life, how much you have, why it’s not enough, why your eyes keep bulging more and more? (v.7)
- What does your heart wish for? (v.7)
- Have you ever spoken like you’re a know-it-all? How did that work out for you? (v.8)
- Have you ever acted as if you can get away with something and God won’t know? (v.11) In what other ways have you lied to yourself? Wait, what about that bag of chips?
- Have you ever felt that all your attempts at living a righteous life were in vain? (v.13)
- Have you ever spent an entire day fretting about something? (v.14)
When I contemplate the above about myself, it’s not a pretty picture. I’d rather pretend I’m not that bad off. But then, verse 11 comes back to haunt me (surely God won’t recognize my rotten heart hidden by my good-girl façade).
I’m always knocked right off my high horse and to my knees, though, when I encounter God (v.17). This is why weekly worship is life-blood for me. This is why periodic prayer/meditation keeps me grounded. I pray you experience the same. Blessings to you this week as you contemplate your life in God.