I’d be so lost without my daily Bible reading.
Yesterday morning, I awoke grumpy. The Internet and TV were successfully connected the day before – that alone should have caused me to bound joyfully from my bed. But then after having my first official racquetball work-out at the Glendora LA Fitness (yet another thank-you-Jesus moment), I spent the rest of the day working mostly with the Amazon publishing platform. My first goal is to get my Ben-Hur sequel – nicely spruced up with some spit and polish and a new title – sent forth into the digital world in advance of the release of the new movie.
Naturally, a glitch arose. If you haven’t noticed, life’s a glitch. (Forget that other thing that rhymes with glitch. This is truer by far.)
Everything worked splendidly up till the point of previewing The Legend of Ben-Hur on the Kindle reader. I uploaded the manuscript and behold!…my paragraph indents were all over the map. It was an unsightly mess.
A little Google searching revealed it to be a besetting sin of the Amazon conversion. After a couple of hours spent trying to fix it, I only made it worse. And that is how I went to bed. So I arose sullen. And sullen’s buddies were right there knocking on the door of my heart also – Fear, Anxiety, Defeat, Doubt.
It stinks beginning the day that way. But Jesus and I have coffee first thing each morning. He has me sit down and read a Scripture. I think about it. We talk it over. I write down what we discussed. Then get on with my day.
Next up in the reading cue was Psalm 108, a song David composed early in his life. David writes, “My heart is steadfast, O Lord. I will sing and make melody with all my being! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn.”
To which I thought: Oh shut up David. Don’t you just hate people who wake up happy? But it gets worse.
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Be exalted O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!
Yeah, sure David, I thought. It’s so easy to praise God when life is going well. So young and naïve you are. This is pre-Bathsheba. Pre-Absalom. Wait till you start experiencing the disappointments of life. You haven’t learned yet that life’s a glitch. Let’s see how easily you write in your gratitude journal then!
But I forgot the occasion of the psalm. Life’s not all sunflowers and butterflies when he writes these words. In fact, David writes it in the midst of disappointment, doubt and defeat. (Interestingly, he borrows chunks of verses from two earlier psalms he wrote in equally difficult moments, Psalm 57 and 60. Note to self: that’s why you write your quiet times down in a notebook. You never know when they’ll encourage you later on.) This time around, David’s at war with a nearby nation, and the outcome of the battle is very much in doubt. Needing God’s deliverance he writes next:
That your beloved ones may be delivered, give salvation by your right hand and answer me!
David’s earlier worship was far from an easy thing. When your heart is on edge, teetering with uncertainty, to then summon your fearful heart to declare that God’s steadfast love and faithfulness is great above the heavens, is costly worship if ever there is such a thing.
And David isn’t doing this privately. His men are watching him. And looking to him to know what to do next. And does this trusting in God really work?
Just as people are watching you when you go through something that challenges or rocks your world. Your children, your co-workers, your extended family. They’re looking to see how you as a follower of Christ react in that moment. Does this Jesus-thing hold any water?
So what does David do? He calls to mind two things: God’s promises and God’s power to keep those promises. David knows going all the way back to Abraham that God has great things in store for Israel, something that will bless the entire earth when it’s all said and done. And David knows the promises that God has made to him personally, to so establish his kingship that Israel will be brought to a place where she will have rest from all her enemies.
David calls these things to mind as he writes:
God has promised in his holiness, ‘With exultation I will divide up Shechem and portion out the Valley of Succoth. Gilead is mine; Manasseh is mine; Ephraim is my helmet, Judah my scepter. Moab is my washbasin; upon Edom I cast my shoe; over Philistia I shout in triumph.’
This is the point in my Bible reading yesterday morning where my heart began to turn. I could start to feel the talons of the sulleness loosen their grip. I called to mind God’s promises in my own life (all the Scriptures he has given me over months confirming this new direction in our lives), his faithfulness on so many occasions (time and time again since this adventure began), and his great power to do it over and over again with each new challenge that might arise. (Be it an Amazon html code or far worse.) My fears and doubts began to dissipate. Confidence and hope began to build within me. Just as it did with David.
Who will bring me to the fortified city? Who will lead me to Edom? Have you not rejected us, O God? You do not go out, O God, with our armies. Oh grant us help against the foe, for vain is the salvation of man!
Now here it comes. David’s rousing finish. Wait for it…
With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes.
Needless to say, I had egg on my face for accusing David of having simplistic faith when the psalm began. This is as raw and robust as faith can get. And it’s the sort of faith that you and I are to practice each and every day in our walk with Jesus.
But here’s my main takeaway: had I not taken the time to sit down and read my Bible, I would have remained hostage to all those dark thoughts. I would have carried them (rather, they would have dragged me) into my day. And who knows when I would have shaken loose from them.
Everything I’ve just described took all of 20 minutes. A little reading, a little thinking, a little praying, and everything changed.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” ~ Hebrews 4:12