Friday, December 15, 2017
Psalms 119:105 – 112 (NIV) Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. I have taken an oath and confirmed it, that I will follow your righteous laws. I have suffered much; preserve my life, O LORD, according to your word. Accept, O LORD, the willing praise of my mouth, and teach me your laws. Though I constantly take my life in my hands, I will not forget your law. The wicked have set a snare for me, but I have not strayed from your precepts. Your statutes are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart. My heart is set on keeping your decrees to the very end.
It was their first day in heaven. God says, “I want the men to form two lines. Line one is for all the men who felt that they led their families with the spiritual authority I gave them, and line two is for all the men who felt inadequate. As for all the women, please follow Peter as he has something special to talk to you about.” The men quickly hustle to their lines. Line two grows longer and longer until it’s over 100 miles long. Line one has only one man it. God said to the men in line two, “Why are you here. I did not create you in Christ Jesus to be inadequate. I created you in my image to lead and represent me with confidence. At least one man did that. Tell them sir, why you are in this line.” The lone man in line one replied, “I’m here because this is where my wife told me to stand.”
Feeling inadequate is a full-blown epidemic of society. We are surrounded with images and messages that convince us of our inabilities and make us feel inferior. Television, movies, magazines, and advertisements all depict culture’s choice of body style and appearance. We are bombarded with input that screams lies about our inadequacies to measure up. Lies like:
- Women will only be happy, accepted, and appealing if they are slender.
- Men are only acceptable if they have rock hard abs and no body hair.
From the clothes we wear to the beverages we choose to drink, we are being convinced that the highest pursuit of life is to be accepted by society, and no matter how well we listen to culture’s call, we still feel miserable.
This conditioning carries over into our spiritual lives as well. We all wonder at times if we will ever measure up to the high standard that seems to be set by the heroes of the faith written about in the Bible. The last several weeks have been especially hard for us. Every section of this 119th Psalm so far has been a spiritual benchmark of faith and trust.
The constant reminders of the Psalmists love for God’s Word and his obedience to it have been tough on some of us. When will we ever have the confidence to say that those things are true of our lives? Even today this section starts out with a high standard of spiritual connectedness to God. The Psalmist declares that God’s word is his light for every step he takes in life. He proclaims his oath and confirms it that he will be obedient at all times, even when he is suffering. He even states that the praises of his mouth to God are not forced but flow willingly from his heart as the natural expression of gratitude for God’s love. How can we measure up to that?
But wait. What’s this we read in the next phrase? Is the Psalmist admitting that he really struggles with his human nature like the rest of us?
Yes he is!
Look at what he says – though I constantly take my life in my hands.
What? Is this elite spiritual example admitting to continual struggles with self-centered living?
Yes he is!
In fact, that’s one of the fascinating things about the Bible – it shows real people living real lives of real inadequacy.
- Abraham takes his life into his own hands and sets aside his faith to protect his wife by lying about who she is…twice.
- Moses shows his feelings of inadequacy when he argues with God about his ability to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt, and then is not allowed to enter the Promised Land because he took his life into his own hands.
- Peter declares his superior faith and steadfastness and then takes his life into his own hands and denies Jesus…three times.
Yet in every one of these situations, and many more besides, God does not reject any of them. His grace rescues them from themselves.
- Abraham is still given his promised son.
- Moses leads the people out of slavery and then is taken directly to the true Promised Land of God’s presence.
- Peter is forgiven and restored and equipped to lead the early church.
Even when they failed, God did not, and He never will. Once we have made an oath of commitment to serve the Living God, He is faithful to overcome all our inadequacies and failures.
The Apostle Paul is a great example. He had taken his life into his own hands until God interrupted his life on the road to Damascus and chose him to plant churches rather than destroy them. Later in his life, Paul wrote these words.
Here is a trustworthy saying…if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself. (2 Timothy 2:11 – 13)
So, on the count of three, we will all move in unison from line two to line one, because God is faithful to overcome ALL our inadequacies.