Thursday, December 15, 2011

Shaped by Love

Let your love, God, shape my life with salvation, exactly as you promised; 
   Then I'll be able to stand up to mockery because I trusted your Word. 
(Psalm 119:41-42 The Message)

As we begin today, I'd like us to take a moment to really give some thought to what things or people, we'd call that "input", we might find shaping our lives in the present moment.  Then, let's look back a little at what things or people have shaped our lives because of their input in our past.  When we really give this a "hard" look, we might be surprised by just how much of a specific person's influence we "formed" our opinions, beliefs, and actions.  The individual may not even know how much they have "shaped" our lives - good or bad.  There may also be some influences (input) such as books, events, or actions that really made an impact - good or bad.  The simple truth - we are "shaped" by something or someone - it is all based on the "input" we allow to do the "shaping".

The term used above describes the process of adjusting so as to form the character of the one doing the asking.  Our psalmist is asking God to do the adjusting of his character so that it aligns with what God designed for his life.  It is by God's love that we were created - it stands to reason the best thing to "form" and "adjust" our character should also be his love.  David is really giving God permission to "adapt" him - give him direction.  He wants God's love to "shape his life" - not just so he'll feel good about himself - but so that his life would reflect perfectly the saving power of his God.

The word "shape" comes from the same root word as we get our words "mold" or "model".  David has been giving us all kinds of "hints" about what shapes (molds) our lives:

- Following God with your entire heart (vs. 2)
- Not entertaining evil - staying pure (vs. 3)
- Using the Word to be what we compare ourselves to, not others (vs. 6)
- Getting into the Word, and allowing it to get into you, until it produces obedience (vs. 11)
- Trusting God to open our eyes to truth (vs. 18)
- Turning to God in tough times (vs. 25)
- Rehearsing the Word of God - until it impacts us deeply (vs. 27)
- Choosing to be faithful; determine to live by what is revealed in the Word (vs. 30)
- Turning away from worthless pursuits (vs. 37)
- Looking to God for help with sin's pull (vs. 39)

Now, he tells us the secret of being "mold-able" - it is in the embracing of God's love that we are made into what he desires us to become.  There is nothing that can "undo" the "shaping" of our past better than the love of God working on our "present".  For some, being embraced by God's love is easy.  There is no problem sensing his gentleness, holding onto his hand in tough times, and enjoying the peace of his presence.  For others, the shaping power of events and people in the past presents difficulty with allowing anyone to come near enough to "shape" their present living.

Look at the order David sets out for us.  It begins with the heart (mind, will and emotions).  He puts it squarely on us - we follow, God leads.  We choose to follow - we choose to trust.  To this, he adds a change of thought pattern - no longer believing the evil of our past, but counting on the righteousness of our present.  Add to this the influence of the Word as our "measuring tool" by which we learn to see ourselves - not the words of those who spoke into our past all those hurtful things that we came to believe about ourselves.  

These "steps" are the beginning of change - the starting point for being "shaped" by the love of God.  In turn, we get into the Word and allow it to get into us - rewriting the "stories" we rehearse.  It will be tough - we need to rely on the only one worth relying on - our Savior.  Rehearse it until it changes the way we think - that is what he says.  Then we add determination to our change in thought - impacting our actions.  Through it all, we lean into Jesus.

What shaped your past need not hold you bound in your present.  Let the love of God shape you anew.  Don't think it possible?  Test God's love - go ahead!  You won't find it fails!

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