Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Meditations on Becoming Like Christ

I suppose all Bible readers have their favorite verse(s) in the Scripture. Of course, gospel-people all around the world love John 3:16 and 2 Cor. 5:17-19 and others that tell of the great exchange that took place at the cross. But I'm talking about those other Scriptures that are hearts drift too for solace in the midst of disappointment, or sorrow, or betrayal, or just plain old human confusion.

One of mine has always been Psalm 3:3 (ESV)

3 But you, O Lord, are a shield about me,
my glory, and the lifter of my head.

This simple verse with its rock solid declaration of God's protection has always ministered to my soul in ways that have rescued my heart from despair and hopelessness and the gloom of whatever situation had driven me back to its timeless relevance.

God is my shield. He is aware of my need. He knows my situation and he is and will be a shield about me. And with him as my protector, I have nothing to fear. He holds the shield, and I am safely under the protection of a powerful warrior who defends me and looks out for his own. He can be trusted. In fact, he is "the glory and the lifter of my head." The second line of the couplet is a statement that God will vindicate those who walk with him no matter what is going on around them. There are times when I desperately need to know this and I suspect that the same is true for many of you who are reading this as well.

Your husband is accusing you of not supporting him.
Your children scorn your faith.
Your wife is disinterested in following Christ.
Your children are wandering from the truth.
Your family is disfunctional in ways you can't even begin to describe.
Your debts are greater than your yearly income.
Your boss doesn't seem to understand your job and is uninterested in listening to your explanations.
You have been falsely accused on trumped up and inflated-out-of-context-stories.
You classes are boring and your life direction is unclear.

These confusions and frustrations are all soothed by the message of Psalm 3:3. "Trust in God don't give up; keep your hope in Him; He will be your shield; He will lift your head; He will vindicate your way--if your way is truly His. Don't give in. Keep fighting for the truth."

These truths have "worked" for me for years.

But every now and then, you come face to face with a new situation, a new set of circumstances that don't really challenge the truth of such conclusions and beliefs as much as they challenge your willingness to trust them at a new level.

Or maybe God recalls to your mind another Scripture that is equally true but deepens your understanding of what it means to become like Christ, to trust in God when everything in your spirit seems to cry out through every pour of your skin, RUN!

[Tomorrow, I'll try to talk about what you do then.]


Laura said...

Thanks for sharing some of your favorites. One of mine for the last few years has been John 14:1 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me." Often my heart is troubled and I need to be reminded that He is Sovereign. It doesn't matter if I understand as long as I wholly trust.

Frodo said...

As a man I like to ponder on the men who went through tough times and how they responded...like Daniel in Daniel Chapter 6, what he was like before and after the lions den...and how David dealt with his frustrating relationship with Saul in the last half of 1st Samuel. Through prayer and the Holy Spirit may we respond toward life on this side of eternity more like David and less like Saul.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this verse, and especially for juxtaposing it with David's physical response to seeing Saul outside of the cave in 1 Samuel 24:8 ("David STOOPED WITH HIS FACE TO THE EARTH and bowed himself.") in Sunday's message. I am deeply touched by David's complete and absolute trust in God, even with his own life, at the moment he confronted the madman Saul and his lynch mob of 3000 hand-picked hit men. David's willing and submissive abandon to God's sovereign and perfect will resonates profoundly within me! I am all too slowly realizing in my own life that more than any one particular verse, it is an attitude of the heart that is most helpful to me in remaining at peace during "troubling times". It is an attitude that helps me remember who I really am! That attitude of the heart might best be described as seeing myself rightly, as literally nothing, a lump of clay without rights or entitlement, intrinsically powerless in any meaningful way, and yet a literal nothing who is nonetheless loved by almighty, all-sufficient God! (Praise God who sacrificed His Son for worms like me!) David helps to frame this attitude of the heart for me when he writes in Psalm 31:15 that "My times are in Thy hand;". It should have been crystal clear all along to me but, despite surface appearances to the contrary, my life is not my own. And it never was! Then there is the calm, confident but acquiescent obedience and loyalty to God voiced in Daniel 3:16-18 when Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego reply to Nebuchadnezzar: "...we are not careful" (how wonderful that they were blunt and direct, not diplomatic!) "to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God, whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king." (What a phenomenal affirmation of their certainty in God's absolute power! He WILL deliver us!!) "But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods...". They voice a humble resignation within them to willingly offer themselves to God and whatever He will do with them. They are complaisant, at peace, and know their place before God. And this attitude of the heart is rounded out for me by Paul in Romans 9:20-21: "Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to Him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay?...". It is ego-piercing humility and an honest reckoning of my worthlessness except as a vessel in the service of God's glory that most helps me to remain at peace during "life's storms".

ChosenRebel said...

THEN, "when everything in your spirit seems to cry out through every pore of your skin" what you do is remember that the best prayer you can pray is wht John the Baptist gave voice to

"He must increase and I must decrease."