Friday, December 22, 2006

The Christian Hedonist’s Playbook (Part 4)

Today, let’s look at Psalm 130.

Out of the depths I have cried to You, O LORD;
Lord, hear my voice!
Let Your ears be attentive
To the voice of my supplications.

If You, LORD, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with You,
That You may be feared.

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
And in His word I do hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than those who watch for the morning—
Yes, more than those who watch for the morning.

O Israel, hope in the LORD;
For with the LORD there is mercy,
And with Him is abundant redemption.
And He shall redeem Israel
From all his iniquities.

Letting go of idols isn’t easy. Sometimes God makes things even harder by simply taking away an idol even as we try to keep from losing our grip on it. For example, when I lived in California I placed too much importance on my best friend, Peter Bogosian. He and I did everything together. I treated him better than I did my own brother. His friendship meant the world to me.

Then my stepfather decided that we were going to move halfway across the world (or so it felt) to East Tennessee. The process I went through of losing my best friend wasn’t pretty, and much of it was the result of making Peter an idol in my life.

Situations like these have weathered my heart unlike anything else. When a false security is stripped away, I am led to see how desperate my situation really is. I only thought I couldn’t live without such-and-such idol. The truth is, I can’t live without only one thing: God. During these trials, the Lord has offered Himself to me in place of my fragile illusions.

Psalm 130 is one such example. It starts with a desperate cry for God’s aid—a recognition that a believer’s help comes from the Lord alone. Then it shows me the real problem my soul has and the real solution God has provided: “If You, LORD, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that You may be feared.” I can stand, not because my idols provide me with strength, but because the cross has appeased the wrath that once weighed me down.

And then we come to my favorite verse in this chapter: “My soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning—yes, more than those who watch for the morning.” I love the imagery of this verse. It reminds me of those movies where the characters are caught in the darkness surrounded by deadly creatures that thrive only in the absence of light. The protagonists are waiting and fighting and hoping for one thing: the daybreak. They aren’t bored insomniacs trying to pass the time until morning. No, their very lives depend on the coming light.

My situation is no different. More often than I can remember, God has brought me to such inner turmoil that my prayer has been, “Lord, if you don’t save me I will perish.” It’s not a fun place to be, but it’s a place where God loves to show the glories of His grace. After all, it is in the darkness where the light is most appreciated. And it is when I am most aware of my sin that I am most desperate for God.

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