A few years back, a friend and I took a cruise. There was one man who will stick in our minds from that cruise ship because of the importance of what he did for all the passengers on board. You may think it was the Captain, since he steered us clear of all kinds of seas which would upset our stomach due to the waves, or kept us on course just by keeping us out of certain currents. In actuality, the man who stuck in our minds was a meek, mild mannered individual stationed outside the doors of the buffet each meal. His words were the same: "Washy, washy! Happy, happy!" His mission: All passengers dining within would wash their hands prior to entering. Why? To ensure the journey of all traveling on the ship would be safe, enjoy their trip and avoid the exposure to unwanted food-borne diseases. Now, that is an important job, is it not?
God’s Word warns us of danger and directs us to hidden treasure. Otherwise how will we find our way? Or know when we play the fool? Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin. These are the words in my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. (Psalm 19:11-13 MSG)
I think God stands in front of us most of the time, simply saying: "Washy, Washy!" He knows the "dirt" we acquire as we go through our days - taking in this influence and the next without realizing the potential for damage they cause if allowed to take "hold" of us. Most importantly, not only does he direct us to "Washy, Washy", but he stands there to direct us to the hidden treasures he has prepared for us. The gentleman at the door of the buffet could not tell us where the hidden treasures were that meal, but he prepared us to dine. God prepares us and he reveals to us. His is a dual-fold mission. Our part is to dine.
Truth is - we have a dickens of a time finding our way on our own. We get all confused with this turn or the next because we cannot sort things our in our small minds quite as well as we'd like to think we can. As our passage states, God cleans the slate - giving us a fresh day to start. Then he keeps us from "stupid sins" we'd like to pick up along the way! Lest we think God doesn't know our folly, he is the one who created us with the ability to choose! He knows we will not always choose wisely, so he prepares a way for us to wash away the grime caused when we have not! This is what we call grace.
I am left in wonder as I consider the words earlier in this same chapter. They speak of the ways God keeps us from totally "fouling" our lives for good - what he provides as both a means for our protection and our provision.
The revelation of God is whole and pulls our lives together. The signposts of God are clear and point out the right road. The life-maps of God are right, showing the way to joy. The directions of God are plain and easy on the eyes. God’s reputation is twenty-four-carat gold, with a lifetime guarantee. The decisions of God are accurate down to the nth degree. (vs. 7-9 MSG)
Yep, the Word of God - pulls us together and makes us whole. Look at what he says here...
- His Word is the way of seeing clearly when circumstances befuddle our minds and cloud our thoughts. It opens us up to clarity quicker than any other source of "wisdom" or "advice". How? Because it is alive and breathing, sharper than any two-edged sword, knowing right were to get at the root of what is bothering us and causing us such turmoil.
- His Word points out the right path to take much as a signpost does for the driver of an automobile. In this day and age of GPS to help us travel from one point to another, we find ourselves reliant upon technology instead of the good old foldable maps of days gone by. There was something to be said about studying that map though. The main thing I see with the map vs. the GPS is the ability to see where we have come from and where we are headed toward. It gives us perspective. We can clearly see the journey - marked out for us.
- His Word points out the places of joy along the way. The journey may be riddled with all kinds of difficult places, but interspersed in the journey will be places of joy and healing. We came across one of those places on our journey through Virginia recently. It was a lavender farm. You may not think much about this, but just walking into the smells of the sweet lavender made the tension just melt away. We both left the shop feeling a little more relaxed, enjoying a sweet piece of dark lavender chocolate. Truly, God provided this "physical" place of joy for us along the way - just as carefully as he prepares the spiritual!
- His directions should not be burdensome for us. He may not take us the quickest route, but he takes us by the one which will produce the greatest opportunities for our "intake". As we made our ways through the winding roads and rolling hills of Amish country, we found ourselves just enjoying the simplicity of life and beauty of God's creation. We admired trees growing strong and mighty, crops lavishing in the warmth of the bright sun, and the refreshing of the gentle summer rains. Opportunities for "sensual" intake abounded. As I stood over the grave sites of some of the older citizens of the small communities, I recalled the fragility of life, but the tremendous protection of God. His directions are never burdensome, my friends. They bring us to places we need to be and times we need to enjoy.
As we close this morning, let us not skip over the insight of "chewing on God's Word all through the day". It is important to mull-over these words again and again, allowing them to sink in deeply, washing over us with freshness each time we do. God's Word never gets old. His signposts are often needed more than once in the journey. Just sayin!