Reduced To Truest Desire
God of all the ages, in every time and place You have been steadfast. Your faithfulness endures forever.
Read Psalm 27:1-14
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“But one thing I do: forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13,14). A worthy goal for us all!
The harrowing psychological dislocation of persecution occasions today’s psalm. To pray it well we should imagine or perhaps recall, with David, what receiving death threats entails. For some Christians, life-threatening opponents are an uncommon reality, experienced only vicariously in films or television news, or read about on web pages or in specialist Christian magazines. However, for increasing millions of Christians in the Middle East, the Far East and many African countries, following Jesus faithfully involves living a life of constant danger. In the congregation in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa where I worship, an Ethiopian friend told how six body bags of murdered compatriots had been sent back home in one month!
The development of David’s opponents in his imagination, from “the wicked” to “enemies” to an “army” and then to a “war” (2,3), describes the paranoia and mental anguish that accompanies the stress of life-threatening violence. Yet David’s ability to name irrational fears and describe his dark suffering without dissolving into despair is anchored in his confidence that God brings light and hope for rescue into every darkness (3b; c.f. vs. 1,13). More significant than this composure in extreme adversity is the way David progresses through reflection on this torrid experience to clarification of his truest desire. Exposed and marginalized by his enemies, David remembers the communal joy and wholeness of being in worship. What he most wants is the safety of being in God’s immediate presence (4-6). Vicariously feel with David his range of emotions as he wrestles through the dangers of losing his faith in God (7-10). Note his desire to be taught to hold on to his faith (11,12) before he comes to rest in the promise of God’s faithfulness, even in the fractured present (13,14).
Prayerfully enter God’s presence. Discover with David how you are being led to ask “one thing” (4) out of your deepest self and truest desire.
Forgive me Father: I have one hundred things I dabble in rather than this one thing I should do. I want to seek Your Kingdom above all else.
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