Skip to main content

Our greatest attention - Our greatest affection

Bless our God, O peoples! Give him a thunderous welcome! Didn't he set us on the road to life? Didn't he keep us out of the ditch? He trained us first, passed us like silver through refining fires, brought us into hardscrabble country, pushed us to our very limit, road-tested us inside and out, took us to hell and back; finally he brought us to this well-watered place. (Psalm 66:8-12)

Maybe we think "blessing God" means giving a little of our hard earned income in the collection plate on Sunday, or perhaps singing a sweetly sung hymn. To bless means to exalt, magnify, and glorify the one we consider worthy of such a position and honor. It means we worship and adore the object of our affection and attention. What we miss most of the time is that the one we worship and adore is supposed to be the object of both our affection AND our attention. The one who receives our greatest attention usually holds our greatest affection, and because of this we find opportunities to proclaim the greatness of the one who holds such a position in our hearts, minds, and affections.

Why does our psalmist announce, "Bless our God! Give him a thunderous welcome!"? The truth is that  God puts us on the road to life - he deserves this kind of affection. Prior to the point of his intervention in our lives we were on any other imaginable road we could name here - but not the road to life. I travel with a companion who enjoys the journey with me. She acts as the navigator when we go on road adventures. We have GPS, but I trust her to "navigate" us to the point we need to reach so that we end up enjoying both the journey and the destination. I know she will never purposefully steer me wrong. God is an even more faithful companion than anyone I could travel with in the natural sense. He is concerned with the road I travel, because the road I travel determines the destination I enjoy! He purposefully directs my journey because he has purposed for me to enjoy both the journey and the end results!

Good news - God keeps us out of the ditches. There was one very cold, blustery and snowy day in Anchorage when I experienced this in a literal sense. I was about 8 months pregnant, driving a little Toyota Corolla station wagon. As I ventured from Fort Richardson to Elmendorf Air Force Base to go for my weekly check-up at the clinic I caught a pretty slick section of black ice. It would not have been bad if the visibility had been good, and the ice a smaller spot. As I began to do "donuts" on the curve of that rather remote roadway, I remember seeing more and more of the safety of the roadway surface slipping away from me. It was as I skidded to a stop just inches from the drop off into a huge unplowed ditch that I took my first breath! He had literally kept me from the ditch! Now, in a spiritual sense, think of the "ditches" we have avoided because of his keeping power - spinning out of control, in stuff that seems a little too much for us to deal with. I have avoided some pretty significant life-ditches - how about you?

The truth cannot escape us here - it is God who trains us. We are given several examples of how God trains his children. The refiner's fire might not seem like a 'training ground', but it is. The passage of silver through the fire purifies it, does it not? In the refining fire, there is a chemical change to the raw material put into the fire. We go through some pretty "fiery" places which serve to bring out the strength of character he desires to see produced. There is also the 'training ground' of going through the "hardscrabble" places. In the most literal sense, this is any "place" in our lives that is really demanding and does not appear to provide much reward from the efforts put into "working" this place. The "yield" appears to be meagerly compared to the "work" put into it. God's end in taking us through these places is to prove our faithfulness, and to reveal his sustaining power. The "road-test" pushes an auto to its limits to see what it has the capability of doing under pressure. Most of us can associate with this one! We have felt our backs against the wall, pushed to our limits, seemingly without capacity for anymore. Then, God comes through! If these tests are not enough, we have the illustration of going to hell and back. I don't think this means a literal "going to hell", but I think it is the place of torment or misery in our lives that causes us to seek deliverance. God's intent is never to leave us in any place of misery - never to see us tormented - but when we find ourselves there, he uses it to bring out more of his glory in our lives.

Where does God brings us in the end - to the well-watered place. We could interpret this as a place that has sufficient water to yield the most refreshing growth. You might see it as a place watered from a well running deep. Have you ever had well-water? I have and it tastes different from our city water - free of the chemical taste and smell. It is refreshing and pure. It refreshes and revives. God never takes us "into" without the intention of taking us "out" of the places he uses for our growth and learning. The final verse of this psalm says it better than I can: Blessed be God: he didn't turn a deaf ear, he stayed with me, loyal in his love. (vs. 20) No deaf ear, no blind eye, no unnoticed move. He stays with us - never abandoning us. He never missed a beat. Most importantly, his love is loyal to the core. He is there when others wander off and lose interest in our well-being. He is faithful and true. Doesn't this give us cause to "bless God"? Just askin!

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The bobby pin in the electrical socket does what???

Avoidance is the act of staying away from something - usually because it brings some kind of negative effect into your life.  For example, if you are a diabetic, you avoid the intake of high quantities of simple sugars because they bring the negative effect of elevating your blood glucose to unhealthy levels.  If you were like me as a kid, listening to mom and dad tell you the electrical outlets were actually dangerous didn't matter all that much until you put the bobby pin into the tiny slots and felt that jolt of electric current course through your body! At that point, you recognized electricity as having a "dangerous" side to it - it produces negative effects when embraced in a wrong manner.  Both of these are good things, when used correctly.  Sugar has a benefit of producing energy within our cells, but an over-abundance of it will have a bad effect.  Electricity lights our path and keeps us warm on cold nights, but not contained as it should be and it can produce

Scrubbed Up and Ready to Go!

Have you ever considered just how 'clean' your hands really are? In nursing school, I remember this exercise we did where we rubbed hand lotion on our hands, then were told to go scrub them to practice a good handwashing technique. Most of us were going the extra mile by scrubbing back and front, in between the fingers and then even up above the wrist area. Surely our hands were clean, right? We came back to the room for the 'inspection' of our handwashing jobs only to find our instructor had turned the lights off, had a black light set up, and inspected our hands under that glowing beast! Guess what else 'glowed'? Our hands! The lotion was 'laced' with this 'dust' that illuminates under the black light, allowing each of us to see the specific areas around cuticles, under nails, and even here and there on our hands that got totally missed by our good 'handwashing' technique! What we thought was clean really wasn't clean at all. Clean

Doubt isn't a bad thing

I would like for you to consider for a moment what this journalist was attempting to share in his words: " Who never doubted, never half believed. Where doubt is, there truth is - it is her shadow ." (Ambrose Bierce) Have you ever doubted? Then it is suggested you were at least at the place of some form of belief. Have you ever considered what your doubt was attempting to reveal to you? Perhaps doubt is not a bad thing because it points us to consider the truth of a matter. Where doubt is - - - there truth is. It may be in the shadows, but it is there! We need only look a little closer and we will find truth has never been far from us.  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 dow