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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Is it really "put up or shut up"?


To "commit" one has to pledge oneself to the task at hand - placing oneself under an obligation to "put up or shut up", so to speak.  At least this is what we primarily think of as "committing" to do something or perform a certain way.  I like the other definition of "commit" which we don't use as often, but which I think captures the meaning as it is laid out in our passage today - to entrust for safekeeping so that one is preserved.  David positions himself into the safekeeping of his Lord and Savior - he doesn't just "promise" to follow God's path as laid out in the word, but he puts himself exactly where he needs to be in order to see the fulfillment of the commitment he has made.

By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path.  I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order.  (Psalm 119:105-106 MSG)

Several key concepts are found in this passage and the stanza in which these words are penned.  Let's explore:

*  The Word of God gives not only direction, but it "illuminates" where it is we are heading.  I have a "smart phone" with an app called "flashlight".  What a handy little addition to have!  I am never without a light as long as I have my cell with me.  I can use it to explore some dark recess in the cabinet, or navigate a path to my car in the darkness of the garage when a light bulb is burned out in the overhead light.  It comes in quite handy.  My cell also has another app for GPS - getting me from point A to B with the greatest of ease. One gives me the direction - the other illuminates my path as I head in down that course.  The Word of God is like that - giving us not only the "direction" by which we live, but illuminating the path we are on, outlining the hazards along the way.

*  The place of commitment is really determined by how well we are able to "place ourselves" into his hands - allowing him to guide us down the path.  I have been both a leader and a follower.  In some circumstances, I would rather follow!  Especially when it is uncharted territory!  Most of the issues I deal with in my spiritual and emotional life are really uncharted territory - at least I haven't charted them yet!  So, I want someone to guide me into these territories who has already walked them!  Jesus came into this world as a man, laying aside his divinity for a season, not just so we could have Christmas and Easter!  He identified with us - with our "human" side - experiencing the very things we experience today.  He has charted a path - knowing full-well what each temptation "feels like" - because he took on the form of taking on human flesh.  So, when we really want to commit to rising above our emotions, there is no better one to guide us through than Jesus - we "place ourselves" into his hands and he does the rest.

*  This passage is placed in between a couple of verses which outline some of the struggles David is going through.  He is faced with enemies - those out to do him in.  Today, we don't have so many "kings and armies" trying to chase us down and do us in, but we do face "kings and armies" in the spiritual, emotional, and relationship "battles" we face.  David reminds us of the importance of "facing" battles of ALL kinds square-on, not in our own power or by our own wisdom.  In fact, he reminds us that it is God's Word which outlines the best "battle plans" for those times when enemies seem to mount their attacks.

The last verses of this stanza are probably most important for us to consider as we wrap up this study today.  You see, David gives us just a little further revelation into what it means to "commit" - so we cannot exclude these verses:

I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever—what a gift! And how happy it makes me!  I concentrate on doing exactly what you say—I always have and always will.  (vs. 111-112 MSG)

How we treat the Word of God in our lives is often an indicator of our "success" in the battle.  Our level of "happiness" is also gauged by where it is we seek to find it!  As long as I look for the "smoothness" of circumstances (like the calmness of the seas) upon which to "sail" through life, I miss the opportunity of "testing" the soundness of the vessel (my life) by the roughness of the "wild seas" which put it to the test.  Our chance to reveal our commitment - our ability to place ourselves squarely into the hands of Jesus for his safekeeping - is not so much determined in the calmness of charted territory, but in the uncertainty of the uncharted - complete with its ups and downs.  I can be "happy" in smooth waters - the path I take most often.  I begin to realize that happiness is more than an attitude when I am faced with the roughness of the "high seas"!  What I choose to hold onto in the midst of the storm determines how well I will fair!  Just sayin!