January is here, cold and gray, makes me think of a poem I had to memorize in school- something about fog walking in on cat's feet. I don't particularly like cats, but I liked that poem, which is probably a good indication of when my word-obsession started.
Anyway, in weather like this, it's hard to fight sadness. In North Carolina, snow is falling again, and I can imagine the warmth inside my parents home. Makes me wish I could snuggle up there again, like I got to over Christmas time. Here, it's cold and gray, light rain falls outside and there's a certain appropriateness to the weather that makes me sad but satisfied.
I've been perusing the Bible today- the only thing to do when the weather is gray and your heart feels broken. I found Psalm 119:129-136, and it's the warm, roaring fire of my soul on this dreary day in this sad, sad year.
"Your statutes are wonderful;
therefore I obey them.
The unfolding of your words gives light...
turn to me and have mercy on me, as you always do to those who love your name...
redeem me from the oppression of men, then I may obey your precepts..
streams of tears flow from my eyes,
for your law is not obeyed."
Yesterday, our sermon was about desiring to study God's Word. Ronnie Smith, one of our pastors who is growing with every sermon in light and truth, said "You become what you behold." What a profound statement! He rooted it in 2 Corinthians 3:18, "And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." So as we behold, as we marvel at His Word, we see His glory and, badda-bing, we change into it! Maybe not instantaneously, but gradually we will start to look like Him. Our fear turns into trust. Our hatred into love. Our deceit into truth.
So why am I as gray as the day? Why was the writer of Psalm 119 swimming in a stream of his own tears? Because the law is not obeyed. Because my life is affected by my own lack of light, and certainly by the darkness of others, who are also not beholding and therefore not displaying His glory, but their own. Because, reading is not beholding. Accumulating knowledge is not beholding. Gathering lists of facts and figures, dates and obscure Bible data is not beholding. Beholding is a Spirit-work, something that we have to ask for before we read. "Open the eyes of my heart Lord, open the eyes of my heart." So, is it that the law is not known, not read, not memorized? Or is it that the heart does not understand, does not behold, and therefore does not become like the Speaker?
Because the Speaker is full of life, love, joy. He hates separation, unforgiveness, deceit. He detests pride. He adores truth. He loves wholeness and blesses those who go about seeking Him- not those who seek the attention or approval of man because of their righteous acts, but those who seek Yahweh Himself. Those who spend enough time with Him to share His heart, and therefore...share His sadness.
That's a new thing that I'm learning here in 2011. I love the parts of the Bible about joy and gladness, they are the undercurrent that pull me through the Godly sorrow that makes my heart cry on gray days when people are still hurting. I love verses like Isaiah 35:10, "gladness and joy will overtake them and sorrow and sighing will flee away." And it is possible to live a joyful life now because that is the promise for the future. Like a child who's been promised a birthday party, we can live our life in hopeful anticipation of the good things to come. But, at the same time, we live in a world where light is forsaken for vain knowledge- knowledge that puffs up, but has no real power. And there's no immediate remedy to that- it's part of the suffering that comes with really following Christ. Do we really think that people can grieve the Holy Spirit and not cause His children the same pain? No. We share it with Him, don't we? I'm learning that so well. I cry out, "Abba! I hurt." And the response is not, "There, there, feel no pain." That's what I would like but it doesn't seem that is what He has for me. No. He says, "Yes, child. I feel it too. Share it with me."
Streams of tears flow from my eyes because your law is not obeyed.