“Prayers are not tools for doing or getting, but for being and becoming.” Eugene Peterson
The first prayer in the book of Psalms causes us to consider: Who am I? And who do I want to become? As Will said in this week’s sermon, it holds up a mirror to our own hearts and prompts us to examine our lives by making some very important comparisons.
I want to be a person that is marked by the blessing of the Lord. The word blessed means so much more than just happy. It implies true peace and contentment—order restored. It refers to a man or woman that lives as their Creator intended.
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.”
So often, we look at life as a spectrum of “gray areas.” But this verse is fairly clear that there are really only two paths: the path of one who falls into wickedness or the path that leads to blessing. There have been many low points in my own life where I’ve found myself asking, “How did I get here?” or “How did I stray so far off course?” A life of complacency will always, when not put in check, cause us to stray. This progression is shown with three actions: walk, stand, and si
Walks. This person is not diving deep into sin; he’s not fixated on evil or maybe even doing anything blatantly wrong. He’s just loitering. He’s no longer running the race set before him. Perhaps he’s involved with the wrong people, or finding himself following the “counsel of the wicked.” And eventually, this misguided attention distracts him enough that he stays for a while.
Stands. This person is now keeping bad company, growing attached to sinful habits, and potentially losing that passion she once had for holiness. Perhaps she is more concerned with her own pleasures than pleasing her Creator. It becomes harder and harder to turn from temptation, and the “little” guilty pleasures that once satisfied are now not enough. She is sinking deeper and deeper into this way of life, permanently making her home here.
Sits. At this point, sin has so permeated this person’s life that it feels normal, necessary almost. It is not the small, repented of sins that we are quick to forsake, but those indulged areas of our lives that we know are wrong and refuse to give up. We twist and distort God’s intentions for our lives and grow comfortable with our idols. Psalm 1:5-6 tells us clearly that if we live in this way, we will perish.
So where did the decline really start? Was it an intentional turning away? Maybe. But most likely, no. It began with a distraction. Or misplaced priorities. Maybe it started with a neglected quiet time. Or a secret sin that we were ashamed to admit.
How do we keep ourselves from the way of the wicked?
By delighting in God’s story. By intimately knowing who our Creator and Savior is and by figuring out how we fit into his story. By meditating on His law day and night. By fixing our eyes on Him and Him alone, and feeding our souls daily with truth!
“He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.”
If we are to live a life of truth and righteousness—of true blessing—we must be planted, deeply rooted, by streams of water. Plugged into the Word of God, living out his will in our lives, and standing firm for truth with other believers. We must be growing, praying, serving, and always relying on God to establish and strengthen us. We must abide in Christ!
After meditating on this message and Psalm 1, I had to ask myself many questions. Am I truly being productive for the kingdom of God? Am I invested in the church and its people more than just two hours every Sunday? What are my top priorities throughout the week? Am I bearing good fruit that others in my life will recognize? Am I pointing other people to Christ? What areas of my life are just leaves withering away? What have I neglected?
I don’t want to be the chaff that the wind blows away. The part of the wheat that has no substance and is useless to the farmer. Any sign of adversity, and it is blown to pieces. But so often in my life, I haven’t been steady. I haven’t always persevered, and I’ve often related more to the chaff than the firmly planted tree. In those moments, I must look to Christ, whose grace not only saves me but also transforms me. Whose righteousness justifies me and presents me holy when I fall short. In those moments, when I realize how I have failed, I can cling to Christ and praise Him that He is in the business of transplanting dying trees. We don’t always make choices in our lives with the goal of bringing glory to God. There are times when we need to be uprooted so that we can be moved to a place where there is so much more potential for true growth!
With what will I choose to fill my heart? Will I walk in the counsel of the wicked? Or will I grow deep roots by the streams of life, abiding in Christ, and delighting in the Word of God? This can be painful, but it leads to a life of beauty…and thriving. A life that the Lord is intimately involved in, watching over and delighting in. A life that is truly blessed!