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Thursday, April 14, 2016


Well, there's nothing like juxtaposing the Ten Commandments and the temptation of Jesus in the desert, and while we're at it, let's throw Psalm 37 in for good measure.  Sometimes the lectionary blows my mind.

Psalm 37:4, "Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart" (NIV).

It's one of the most misunderstood verses in Scripture.  I've loved it for years... decades... OK, my whole life...  first for all the wrong reasons, and then... I hope... for some of the right ones.

Here's the trick.  When we legitimately take delight in the Lord, our desires change.  The Lord becomes our desire.  God gives us Godself... which is, to be honest, not what most people want this verse to mean. 

There are days when this is not what I want this verse to mean.  There are days when I am afraid I might sell my soul to the devil, in the desert, for some bread and safety and a queendom of my own.  I have broken every... single... commandment (before anyone calls the police and has a warrant issued for my arrest, please see how Jesus defines things like murder and adultery in Matthew chapter 5).  Like anybody else, I have desires.  Sometimes those desires fall far short of what (and/or who) they should be.  Let me be the first to admit this.

The more transparent I get, the easier it is to share.  This is not to be confused with easy - just easier.  When I started writing about confession some months ago, I had no idea I would become more comfortable with it as time went on.  I can talk about (most of) my failings now, and it's helpful.  But there are days when the struggle is still all too real, and I sound a little bit like the Israelites, begging Moses to speak, because they are literally scared to death to hear God's voice.  What might God require?  Even simple rules are hard to keep.

I feel as if there have been times in my life when I have leaned into and lived into Psalm 37:4 the way it was meant to be.  Undoubtedly, those are peaceful times, even when they don't look like anything anyone would hope for.  I know this from experience.  I know this in my head.  And yet, it's one of those days when getting all of that knowledge to seep down into my heart is more difficult than I want it to be.

It's Thursday Theology.  What truth do we learn about God in these passages of Scripture?  Maybe we learn that God is demanding.  Whoa!  Hold the phone!  What?  It's OK if you'd like to push back against this one (or anything I say, ever), but think about this for just a minute.  When Jesus is being tempted, he uses Scripture to make it clear that we are to live by God's words alone, we are not to test God, and we are to worship only God.  God wants to be our desire, over and above any desire that is natural to human beings.  God wants to be everything. 

Oh friends, there are moments when I can say, "I got this," but they are often so fleeting.  I would sure love to hear from any of you who have "arrived".  But since I'm thinking the number of people who can make this claim honestly is zero, I'd also love to hear from all of you who are still journeying.   

1 comment:

  1. I love Psalm 37! One thing I have double-checked multiple times it's that it says "the desires of your heart" (more than one desire). Yes, God is to be the desire (singular) of our heart, but I like the thought that I can include other desires on my wish list when making the effort to delight myself in the Lord. And you're right: As I delight myself in the Lord my desires are changed.