Saturday, March 22, 2008

October 15, 2007

A “Go with God” moment:

Last week I asked a question, “Have you ever felt abandoned by God?” This week, let me tweak the question just a bit, “Have you ever wanted to yell at the Lord?” Have you ever been so disappointed with Him, with life situations, and people hurting you that the first thought out of your mouth was cursing them and not blessing? Welcome to the human race. Now, read the words of Psalm 137. Maybe even try reading them out loud...but get ready for a surprise...

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, "Sing us one of the songs of Zion!"
How can we sing the songs of the LORD while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.
Remember, O LORD, what the Edomites did on the day Jerusalem fell.
"Tear it down," they cried, "tear it down to its foundations!"
O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us—
he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks.

Now, go back and re-read the last two lines and ask yourself; how can these words of vengeance and blood-thirsty anger be allowed into the Old Testament canon? How can this be part of Holy Scripture? Even more troubling, the Psalms were designed to be read publicly and encountered in the Temple as prayer offerings to the Lord. Prayer, public prayer you say? Yes.
The issue I want to place before you is that the people of Israel were bitterly angry with the Babylonians who carried them off into captivity, away from the city of Jerusalem which they loved, and away from the Temple where they worshipped and found forgiveness. Moreover, in Psalm 137, we discover that the captors of the Jewish nation tormented them by asking them “to sing songs of Zion” (aka Jerusalem) while suffering exile in a strange land. They were so mad that they imagined themselves grapping the babies of their enemies and bashing them against the rocks. What is this; infanticide in the name of the Lord? Worst of all; let me remind you that this is done in the context of prayer, even corporate prayer.

So, what is the life principle in this psalm? This is not a Psalm justifying vengeance against one’s enemies but rather it is teaching us to BE HONEST TO GOD about who we are. The Jews in exile were expressing their honest and transparent feelings directly to God, first and foremost. So, for us, first and foremost, tell Him exactly how you feel. Do not lie to Him in prayer. Do not act as if life is OK when in actuality, you are hurting, confused, and outright angry. The very beginning of transforming and healing comes with the issue of telling the truth to God so you can overhear it! This psalm (and many others, plus books like Jeremiah, Habakkuk, etc) give you permission to come to God and tell Him, “Lord, I do not like the way you are running the universe, especially on how it pertains to me and the ones I care about.”

Transformation of the mind begins with telling God the truth of how we actually feel and what we are thinking. Keep in mind that God already knows how you feel. Do not forget that He is omniscient (all-knowing). Nothing you say will surprise Him. But the real surprise might be that the beginning of transformation comes about when you do not come to God with wearing your “Sunday Best” but with the truth which resides in your heart.

Create in me a clean heart.
So, I begin with praying with an open heart and open mind.
In many cases I confess that do not know what You are doing;
I acknowledge that my ways are not Your ways.
Please Lord, Open my eyes, open my ears,
So I might catch a glimpse of the heavenly design.
That I may have Your mind, Your Son’s mind.
May this mind be in me that was also in Christ Jesus.

Now, Go with God

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