Reading the bible this morning I came across this confusing kernel: “O Lord, in Your strength the king will be glad…You have given him his heart’s desire and you have not withheld the request of his lips.” The Psalm continues, “For you meet him with the blessings of good things.”
As I prayed, and wrestled a bit with this text, I asked God what are the “good things?” What is the gospel message we are promised? What can we tell others that God will deliver? The man in this Psalm surely has been blessed with the “success” of a material life well lived (he is a king, he has a crown of gold set upon him, etc) but the real treasure bestowed on Him seems to be fullness of the presence of God. The Psalmist writes, “He asked life of You, You gave it to him…You make him joyful with gladness in Your presence.”
The blessings of good things hinted at earlier in the psalm is gladness that comes from unity with God. He asked life of you, and you gave it to Him. I love that mental picture. Do you pray for God to imbue you with His life? Or fill your life with material stuff? Do we seek the promise of His presence? Or are our prayers mostly aimed at answering our own questions? This is a struggle for me I confess and perhaps you can relate.
So just pray for God to be near and the rest takes care of itself? Well, yes and no. Jesus will never abandon us and yet life is no cake-walk. Christians don’t get a free pass from the difficulties of living in a fallen world. Jesus promises us things will not be easy. The very first thing he teaches in his famous Sermon on the Mount? “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Eugene Peterson says it this way, “You are blessed when you are at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”
The promise of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ? His presence. It is the promise of presence. Jesus says later in Matthew, “Ask and it will be given to you, seek and you will find, knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. …If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” So what is the “good” Jesus is talking about? Presence with the Father. Solidarity with the maker of the universe. A foundation of rock in a shifting world. In short, your life will be imbued with deep meaning as you journey towards fullness in Him. In other words, pray and ask God to draw you closer to Him, and He can use you to be an agent of his kingdom here on earth. Your life will have meaning beyond your wildest dreams.
We all want to live lives of meaning. We all want to feel connected to the Maker of all things. But some times it is easy to lose focus on the One who is leading us and instead see just the chaos and busyness of our current lives. For me, it is in these moments when I am the most unsure of myself and my calling. God what do you want me to do? What can I trust You to do with me? Where do you want me to live? To work? To serve? Fill in the blank with whatever current question you are wrestling with but the real question arises, God what is your promise? What can I trust You to do with me?
And though we may pray for our situation to change drastically and immediately be transformed into the ideal we carry with us in our mind, God says simply “come to me, and I will make you my disciple.” If we follow Him, He will be present with us. And this presence, this union with the One who made us and loves us and gives us meaning, will make all the difference in our lives.
At our church, we are having a baptism service on the beach in Shoreline at the end of June. I’ve spoken with a few people in the last week about being baptized and the reservation naturally arises, “I’m not sure I’m good enough for this.” Though they hunger to be baptized there is this natural guilt that comes that says ‘you ain’t good enough to be baptized.’ Well guess what? You aint good enough! But God is…and baptism is one of the special places in our faith when we don’t have to do anything to deserve His gift. Baptism is a sacred gift from God. “Come to me, let me wash over you, and in doing so mark you as a new creation to follow me.” You don’t feel good enough for God? Most days I don’t either. But God loves us anyways and has called us His own. Cling to this promise today, that you are a child of a God who loves you. Unconditionally. Undeservedly. Unflinchingly.
And consider joining us on June 26 to be baptized at Richmond Beach. Maybe this is the small step of faith God is calling you to right now.