If I can be completely transparent, I have wanted to close my eyes, plug my ears, and pretend nothing was out of the ordinary over this past weekend. I would honestly have liked nothing more than to gather my little family into the safety of our home, shelter my children from the chaos of the "outside world," and continue pursuing my dreams unhindered by world events and a changing political climate. It is not that I am unengaged in political and cultural happenings; I am just a tad overwhelmed. Historical and national decisions are being and have been made in our midst, directing the course of our nation gone astray, and I will confess, I am bit dizzy from all of the chatter.
I am among many of you who have wrestled deeply with our faith and how to live out our convictions in the climate of our ever-changing world. I could take your time now to articulate some of my thoughts, but I would rather not add more words to the many that are already out there. Others have adequately said what I believe. One of my favorite articles can be found here.
But for today, for this moment, can we step away from the discussions and debates? I mean all of the discussions - of America's moral decline, of gay marriage, of religious liberty, of racism, of war, of politics. Can we just take a momentary pause? We can even, for the moment, silence those storms of our personal lives...of loss, heartache, uncertainty, tragedy. Let us simply quiet all of the noise and chatter in our hearts and cease trying to figure out where we've gone wrong, who is to blame, what we need to "fix" in our nation...
...and let us remember what we know to be true.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!" Ps. 103:1
Every day, the miracle of life happens all around us. We breathe in, and we breathe out. The sun rises, and the sun sets. In it all, our Holy God is the One to be praised (Ps. 113:3). This is our starting point, that all of life exists to the glory and praise of God! So today, as genuine followers of Christ, let us bless the Lord with all that is within us. He is holy!
"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's." Psalm 103:2-5
Let us not ever forget to remember the Lord's benefits, and let us not ever cease thanking Him for them. All of our iniquity is forgiven in Christ. All of our brokenness finds healing in Christ. We are redeemed from life in the pit, and we are restored to a life of steadfast love and mercy. We are not only redeemed, for God adopts us into His family so that we are now coheirs with Christ (Eph. 1:3-14). Despair has no place among the Christ follower, no matter how antagonistic the world may become. He renews us day by day, so that we can face the challenges of this life in His strength.
"The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel. The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will he keep his anger forever." Psalm 103:6-9
The heart of the Lord beats for the oppressed, the downtrodden, and the rejected of society. How we bear this message of hope to a world estranged from God is up to us. God does not compromise on His standards, nor should we, but He is steadfast and patient with those who call upon Him. The cultural tide has turned, and nominal Christianity is now becoming a thing of the past as our culture's demand for relativism and tolerance fly in the face of God's holiness. Following Christ for Americans may no longer mean simply figuratively taking up our crosses, as we join other Christians around the world who already face physical, political, and social persecution (Matt. 16:24). But we must remember that God will work righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed. He will stand for His people, and He will never forsake us.
"He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him." Psalm 103:10-13
With the glory of creation, God provides visual reminders of the freedom and forgiveness found in Him through Christ. "As high as the heavens are above the earth" shows us how great is His love. "As far as the east is from the west" reveals the permanency of God's forgiveness of sins. In Christ, we find a message of hope, grace, and deliverance. The verses above do not refer to God's dealing with every single person, but only with those who have called upon the Name of Christ for salvation. Repentance and renunciation of sin bring a life more abundant than anything this world could ever offer.
"For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more. But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments." Psalm 103:15-18
Our individual earthly lives are but a moment, here today but gone tomorrow. We are each as a flower in its season, beautiful in growth but forgotten in death. Yet the Lord's love endures forever. Blessing and legacy in this life are not attained through wealth, success, reputation, or being on the winning political side. They are attained through the fear of the Lord. How do I best protect my children from an unknown future?
I remember who I am before the Holy God, and I fear Him.
"The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all. Bless the Lord, O you his angels, you mighty ones who do his word, obeying the voice of his word! Bless the Lord, all his hosts, his ministers, who do his will! Bless the Lord, all his works, in all places of his dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!" Psalm 103:19-22
O the glory, O the majesty of our Lord! He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords. As genuine followers of Christ, we know this to be true, we profess this to be true, and we live this as truth. What is our responsibility in the face of a world that spits in the face of our God? We live peaceful, quiet lives of obedience that point the world to Christ (1 Peter 4). This is our mission; this alone is our call. It is God's mission and responsibility to bring the world into submission under His reign, and He will bring this to completion. In the end, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that He is Lord (Rom. 14:11; Phil. 2:9-11). But for today, while He is patiently bringing His plan to completion, let us bless the Lord.
Bless the Lord, O my soul!