Before I quote today’s scripture, imagine that you’re ill and needing healing. If you are not healed, you will die. How would you fill in the blank in the following question? Don’t cheat by reading ahead!
Lord, let me live so that I can ________________________.
Now suppose you’re blind. You want God to give you sight. Fill in the blank again:
Lord, heal my sight so that I can see _____________________.
And again, what do you most hope God will not hide from you?
Here’s how the psalmist answers:
(17) Be merciful to your servant that I may live,
That I may keep your word.
(18) Unveil my eyes, so I can see,
Wonderful things from your law.
(19) I’m but a stranger in the land,
Don’t hide your commands from me. — Psalm 119:17-19
I’m often struck by the difference between what we say and Christians and what we do. Please note that the â€œweâ€ in the sentence is inclusive. I’m talking to myself as well.
We say that we love God’s word. We claim to live our lives according to the Bible. We long for words from the Lord to tell us precisely what to do. But just how much time do we spend actually reading?
I love to read the Bible. I not only have dozens of Bibles in different versions and editionsâ€”I’m a collectorâ€”but many of those Bibles are marked and worn. But if I’m honest, and I’m thinking about why I would want to live, I can think of many things that would come before â€œI haven’t finished my last pass through Isaiah yetâ€ or â€œI’ve got to get to the end of Matthew. I just love the part where Jesus comes back from the dead.â€
If I was blind, there are many things I’d want to see. But do â€œwonderful things from your lawâ€ come near the top of that list? As a stranger, would me main concern be knowing God’s will?
I suspect that if we’re honest, God’s word and God’s will doesn’t play the part in our lives that the psalmist insists on in Psalm 119. Much of this is really foreign stuff to us. It’s not that important.
Psalm 19:10 says that God’s words are more to be desired than gold. I’ve frequently asked audiences to imagine that a gold bar and a Bible were left sitting on a church pew, which would go first? Now that may not be fair. The people who walk by might already have a Bible, and they don’t have a gold bar. (Though â€œthou shalt not stealâ€ might be a consideration.) But if we look in our lives and consider the time we spend keeping our material lives going as opposed to the time we spend with God, the same consideration applies.
I’m not calling for big steps. How about we try adding just a few minutes a day to our reading time, spending just a bit more time studying the word and letting God speak to us? How about looking around your church and finding a regular Bible study and joining it? Perhaps you could read a chapter before you settle in to watch TV or to read secular materials in the evening.
Whatever works for you! My challenge to you is to take a step closer to the attitude of the psalmist.
PS: One of the entries from Jody’s Devotionals was included in this week’s Christian Carnival at Mere Orthodoxy.