Sometimes I read something and it feels like a threaded needle, piercing through different parts of my life and thoughts, pulling them taut and binding them all together. This morning it was Psalm 78. In three different parts of this Psalm it exposes different aspects of Israel’s rebellion against God. Verses 17-18 speaks of their discontentment, verse 32, their unbelief, and in verses 56-58 it says they didn’t “keep His testimonies” and provoked Him with their high places (which symbolized their apathy and lackadaisical attitude toward worship) and their idolatry.
It is tom-foolery to read the Bible without applying it to oneself!
As I read about Israel, I stuck my mental probe into the folds of my own life and began to assess where I was practicing the same sins. I began to notice how theses sins are all strung together like beads on a necklace. At the root was a lack of reverence and appreciation for the Mighty King who had given them a million deliverances in their life. We can see it typed out plainly in the Bible, how Israel had been enslaved in Egypt, yet God had brought them out by miraculous means. How He humbled Egypt with plagues, and led Israel with a pillar of fire and cloud, right through the Red Sea. How He fed them by raining bread out of the sky, and gave them water from a rock. How their shoes didn’t wear out after 40 years of walking in the desert.
Yet their hearts perpetually turned back to what they wanted rather than to amazement for what they had and the God who’d provided it.
I’ve been wading through Romans with a small group of ladies. Last Tuesday we studied Romans 2:7-11. In this passage, the glory-bound saint is described as one who seeks for glory and honor and immortality. This implies that the one who loves the Lord will have a different root-motivation. We will be driven by a desire for God’s glory among us, to display His worth around us, and with our hope fixed, not on the fleeting pleasures of this world, but on “an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:4-5).
As I pondered Israel’s sin (and my own), the ways we pursue idols when the Living God is manifesting His glory all around us, the way we wish for things that aren’t ours and can’t see the miracle of the things that are, I remembered that the entire Bible is a story of a Bride and a Bridegroom! The story of a lovestruck God coming to earth to gather up His beloved Church. We are only dwelling a short time on this broken planet while we wait for Him to gather us for the wedding feast. Each measure of grace is like a simple reminder that, even in His invisibility, I am loved and cherished. Whether it’s all the ways God has miraculously spared my life (I could write books about that) or the everyday wonder of simple pleasures like sight, sound, scent, feel, and taste, God is reminding me that, though I cannot yet see Him, He is with me always and will never leave or forsake me. He is like a husband on a trip, who, before he left planted a million little treasures for his wife to discover in his absence, to remind her of his love. Except this Husband never left me, He is only hidden from my sight for the moment. Yet I see His handiwork in every crack and crevice. In the ways He brings good out of suffering, and the ways He affords me simple pleasures like the breeze, and laughter, and color, and the wonder to enjoy it all!
When my inner-compass is aimed True North, I find it much easier not to practice the same sins which invoked God’s wrath against Ancient Israel and had them walking forty arduous years in the desert. There is nothing as ravishing or splendid as that Bridegroom whose throne is beyond the Crystal Sea. Idols look like ugly mounds of dirt compared to Him. In Him, I find contentment, joy, and gratitude for any small bit of suffering this world would throw at me, because I’ve seen how He transforms it into goodness. I revel in His providence and plenty in the midst of a world crying that they are impoverished and demanding more. My faith is ignited in the blaze of God’s consuming fire. I find myself desiring to follow close behind Him and steady my steps to keep cadence with His. And I find myself wanting, more than anything else, for His glory and honor to be manifest in my midst, and for all the pleasures of heaven, where Jesus is not only enthroned forever, but His Bride, the Church, will live in perfect oneness and peace.