Sunday, March 6, 2016

A Sunday morning, a Psalm, a text and renewal

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.  -- Psalm 51:10

This morning I woke up and it was just blah. The Sunday morning blahs. It's very rare I feel this way on Sunday -- definitely on Mondays, often on other days, but rarely on Sundays -- and it felt strange. I look forward to Sundays, to the worship, the word and the fellowship at our church, to see lives elevated by the love of God through His son Jesus.

I reached for my phone to check the time and then pulled my hand back. I knew if I checked my phone I would get lost in it. It's precisely not what I needed in my state, to drown myself in the abyss of social media and become further entrenched in blah.

As I pondered the day and what it held and my condition, I confess to just a general bad attitude. About getting out of bed, about getting ready for church, about getting little Sabo kids ready for church, about going to church, about serving at church ... I could go on but you get the idea.

My heart was in a bad place. Dark, I guess you'd say. Ever had one of those mornings?

As I looked up at the ceiling the Lord gave me a word: Renew.

Okay, renew. And what do I do with that?

Get up, that's what. Go out to the living room and open my Bible. Then look for the word renew. The Christian life is sometimes just one little step of obedience. Followed by another. Then another.

And I landed upon Psalm 51:10: "Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me." A word precisely for me, a gift from God on this morning. The idea of this verse is that "create" is only something God can do.

I can't get it anywhere else, from any other source, from any other activity. This verse in its context is a plea from David to ask that his heart be renewed, restored and transformed. God is the only source of this renewal.

It was a word for me this morning. A word that a prayer of repentance is the renewal I needed and the renewal I received. Blah dissipated, eclipsed by the power of renewal unique to God.

But something remarkable happened later in the morning. After I had gotten Seth and Judah dressed, after I got Olivia and Ezra breakfast, after I loaded our music equipment in the van, after I helped set up for church and fetched the crackers and grape juice from Farm Fresh for communion.

I got a text from Ethan, who is up in Detroit with a group of students from his college serving people in need in the Motor City. The first text I received from him said that he realizes he says this every time he finishes a book in the Bible, but Hosea might be his favorite. Here's the exchange:

Me: "I am very partial to the minor prophets. Hosea was a tough, Godly man."
Ethan: "14:5 says that God is going to be like the dew and Israel is the lily. This is after 14 whole chapters of the people of Israel rejecting the word of the Lord and disobediently intermingling with the surrounding pagan tribes. Moreover, that image is so beautiful! The lily is a desert flower which means that the only source of water it ever gets is each morning when the coolness of the desert night condenses into a dew that rests on its petals and soaks it to its roots. When in bloom, the desert lily is a beautifully vibrant flower full of color. He is telling Israel that if they soak in his word and goodness and allow it to strengthen the roots of their soul, they will be beautiful amidst a spiritual desert. A good word for me to return to the dew each and every morning."
Me: "That's a really good for me as well son. Needed that this morning. Love you."
Ethan: "Love you too! I'll be praying for church this morning!"

One more thing about this morning of renewal. God answers prayers. Don't ever doubt it. This morning a gentleman who had grown up in the church, but had cultivated a hard heart to the Lord over the years, has been coming to church faithfully for nearly a couple of years. Today as we studied through Romans 10 he had scales fall from his eyes for good. He repented of his sins and gave his heart to the Lord.

He is renewed.

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