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Friday, January 13, 2012

Maintenance Required


Turn my way, look kindly on me, as you always do to those who personally love you.  Steady my steps with your Word of promise so nothing malign gets the better of me.  Rescue me from the grip of bad men and women so I can live life your way.  Smile on me, your servant; teach me the right way to live. 
   I cry rivers of tears because nobody's living by your book! 
(Psalm 119:132-136 The Message)

We often use words to express our heart.  Our writer is doing just this!  He cries out, "Turn my way!"  It probably is not because God has actually turned AWAY from him, but that he does not sense the presence of God at that very moment.  The writer has come to DEPEND on the presence of God with him - - on the approval of God.  Whenever we ask someone to "look kindly upon us", we are asking them to express approval of our actions.  I am sure we all know that our actions are not always worthy of approval - - especially when the approval originates from God!

Yet, in the midst of this sentence, David buries a huge truth - - God looks kindly on us, turns our way, because he is in a relationship with us bound by love.  He loves us FIRST, we in turn, love him back.  His head is "turned" toward those who love him - - who have entered into a "personal" relationship with him.  The result of God looking "kindly" upon us is the steadying of our steps - - keeping us from things we would call "malign".  

We usually think of "malign" as an action word - - a verb.  In this case, it used as an adjective - - the Word has the ability to keep him from injury.  The evil effects of life choices made without the continual guidance of the Word have the propensity to bring malicious (malign) stuff into our lives.  David's hope is that God will show himself faithful to keep him from the injury of wrong choices.  What is the purpose of braces on teeth?  Isn't it to bring into alignment?  How is this accomplished?  Simply put, it is through constraining movement!  It is in the establishing of "boundaries" in which the teeth are brought into what we observe to be a beautiful smile!  Therefore, boundaries / constraints are not always a negative thing - - they can produce much beauty when they fulfill their purpose!

May I take a little liberty in giving a definition to the word "malign" here?  When our lives are "lined up" with the word, we'd say they are "aligned".  When we are taking steps outside of the boundaries God established, we'd likely say we are "not in line" - - "mal-aligned".  In Spanish, "mal" means bad.  We have "bad alignment".  Ever drive a car with bad alignment?  Try as you might, you are "fighting" with the steering wheel the entire journey!  The "mal-aligned" wheels determine the course the vehicle takes - - we fight to stay the course!

Our psalmist is giving us insight into maintaining "good alignment" - avoiding the wayward drift of being "mal-aligned".  I regularly "service" my vehicle to ensure the wheels are in good alignment because it helps maintain tire wear, avoiding unnecessary wear and tear which could result in my having to replace those tires before their time.  When we pull into God's love for regular "servicing", we are asking him to do the same - - "service" us so our choices remain consistently on track, not bringing unnecessary "injury" into our lives which could result in us having a major deviation from our steady course!

I think the beginning of a new year is always a good time to look at "servicing" the areas of our life that haven't had regular and consistent attention in a while.  Love grows cold without regular attention!  God's love remains consistent on our behalf, but it takes TWO to enjoy and celebrate love!  Maybe it is time to pull closer to him - - allowing him to "align" us again with his purposes.