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Friday, December 10, 2010

Invitation to cry out

 I love God because he listened to me, listened as I begged for mercy.  He listened so intently as I laid out my case before him. Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels.  Up against it, I didn't know which way to turn; then I called out to God for help: "Please, God!" I cried out. "Save my life!" God is gracious—it is he who makes things right, our most compassionate God. God takes the side of the helpless; when I was at the end of my rope, he saved me.
(Psalm 116:1-6)

I have been asked why I serve God - why I love him with all my heart.  I used to have a really elaborate answer - one that took some time to "prepare" that some in Christianity would call "a testimony".  I appreciate David's simplicity in his declaration above - I love God because he listened to me!  When it comes right down to it, isn't that what all of us could say when we are asked why it is that we love God?  He listens!  He responds!  He makes things right when we get them wrong!  He takes our side!  There you go - that is my testimony!

Our friends and family need to hear the truth that God responds with mercy when we cry out for him to "fix" what we have "botched" up or what seems to be out of our control anymore.  Look at what David described as the condition of his life:  Death stared me in the face, hell was hard on my heels.  He was not just in need of God's mercy, he was desperate!  Things were tougher than he could possibly handle on his own and he didn't know which way to turn - he was in the midst of a mess and he was confused about the next steps to take.

Then....he called out to God for help!  I like those "qualifying" words in scripture.  We call them the "joining" words in a series of words that describe an idea - then, therefore, because, but, etc.  They suggest a transition.  David's moment of transition was when he called out to God - in honest declaration of his circumstances, what he was feeling at that moment, and his desperation to get God's help in the matter.  Most of us are not unlike David - we sometimes have to get to the place of desperation BEFORE calling out to God.  What a pity to wait so long!  God was there all along - but we were so caught up in doing things our way that we didn't call out to God until things got desperate.

Desperation suggests urgency - things are "heating up" and an answer is needed right now!  The pressure becomes intolerable - we are at the point where we are just about ready to give into the despair we are feeling.  Then....we call out to God.  There it is - the transition point!  I am so glad that I am not God!  If I was, I'd get pretty disgusted with those of us that have to get to a place of desperation before we think about calling out to God for help!  Thank goodness I am not God!  He responds in mercy - regardless of when the "call" goes out.  It can come before things get heated - in the midst of the heat - or when things are crumbling in around us.  All he cares about is that the call comes!

There is an old fairy tale or fable that describes the boy who cried wolf too many times.  You may remember it - he would say there was a wolf attacking and when people came to his rescue, no wolf was to be seen.  Then when the wolf actually did attack, no one came because he had "cried wolf" too many times.  I know the moral of this story was that we should not lie as people will not know when to trust that we are telling the truth when we do.  I'd like to go one step further with this story.

The amazing thing about God is that we can "cry wolf" and he comes!  It doesn't matter to him that we may be anxious over stuff that he tells us not to be anxious about.  He comes!  Why?  Simply because he loves us - he wants us to know he will always be there!  He comes because we MATTER to him!  We are the focus of his attention.  God enjoys the times when we nuzzle up to him in prayer - not really "desperate" for anything from him at the moment.  He "lives for" the moments we will cry out in our desperation - ready to respond with mercy and grace!  

Our invitation today is to cry out!  Get "desperate" with God - tell him what you need.  Be bold enough to admit you are at the end of your rope - ready to pack it all in.  Let him know the anxiety of soul that brings you to your knees.  He stands ready to respond.