Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Devotional: The Word and The Tree

I thought for the month of May, tentatively, I'd maybe do a little bit of a daily devotional. More for my own practice of expression, and also to invite whoever wants to join me, to do so. Every day in May, I'll be reading the Psalm that correlates with the date. I'd love if you did it with me, and if you left some yummy thoughts at the bottom for me to meditate on, and that way we can have a little interchange that will hopefully be encouraging and somewhat consistent. So, feel free to follow every day. Or just one day. Or decide this sounds terrible. Whatever floats your boat.

Psalm 1: Way of the Righteous and the Wicked

1 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;
2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 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.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. 5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous; 6 for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

Sometimes when I go to read the Bible I get overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it. It seems like the New Testament oftentimes is just filled with these terribly long sentences with all of these divine mysteries and my brain is just too small to think about it. I can't handle even one verse in Ephesians. I feel this way about the Psalms too, and I guess that's the part that I love about it. David was a man who poured out his heart like water before the Lord. So there's a lot to be poured out. I tend to do this, and I can appreciate his lack of brevity sometimes.

Psalm 1 has a special place in my heart. I can remember my mom trying to get me to memorize it from when I was really little and I was discouraged then, even at the age of 7, that I might not be able to meditate on God's law day and night. It seems like such a daunting task. But reading it this morning got me thinking that maybe its just that David means he would wake up thinking about God's word. That encourages me because I do that sometimes. Like last night, when I could have sworn I heard voices right outside of our window, and I woke up in one of those paralyzed frights, and so I tried to pray my way out of the fear and back to sleep. I called up every verse I knew about the Lord being a shield about me, and me not having to fear the terror at night. After about five minutes of that, I am pretty sure I konked back out. So, robbers, have your way if you're out there. At least I've been edified in my brain with the Word of God.

Sometimes I forget too, that the Word of God, the law that this Psalm calls me to meditate on, comes in the flesh in John 1. That the Word of God is no longer just the physical, written words, but the Person. The One who gave Himself up for me and lives to make intercession for me, and the One who is my advocate in Heaven. The past week, I've had skimpy quiet times. I've not felt 100%, so I've laid in bed instead of getting up to read. Which usually means I'm half-sleeping through some of it. And that leaves me feeling shamed the rest of the day. It's so funny how if I don't do what I consider my part in trying to sit down and listen for the Lord, I assume He's angry and hurt, and He won't talk with me the rest of the day. So I spend the next 12 hours limping around, trying to seem good and act good and speak good, but all the while my heart is testifying against me that I feel guilty. I forget that the work was finished on the cross, and that the work of abiding is multi-faceted, all day long experience, and not just left to a morning quiet time.

I forget that the Word of God isn't just on my Bible app or in the leaves of my New Testament. The Word of God is also the Spirit within me, the one who testifies that I am a child of God, and a coheir with Christ. And that even if I've not spent the alotted time I wanted to at seven, I can still meet with Him while I'm fixing Eden's chocolate milk or on a run, or in the shower, or while I get ready. He still wants to talk. He's not the muteness-of-God-unless-you-have-your-Bible. He 's the Living Word of God. And He is that sharp, double-edged sword that can pierce and divide bone and marrow with just one word in my heart. He knows me.

I love how this Psalm talks about how the man who meditates on the Word of God will be like a tree planted by streams of water, and that this tree is amazingly fruitful, verdant, un-withering, and that in all things, prosperous. I don't always feel prosperous, I don't always feel like what I'm doing will produce results. When I'm trying to rub out the stains on Eden's white shirt for the 90th time this month, I feel a little bit less than productive. But if I'm doing it and talking with the Word of God, then in everything I do, I prosper. I gain. I grow.

If I go back over my life, I see that the Word of God as in the Bible and the Word of God as in the impressions and encouragements on my heart have both spoken to me in equal proportions. I've had radical encounters, at just the moment I've needed it, with both the Bible, and with just the words I hear Him speak to my heart. Of course, that spontaneous word to my heart is always tested and tried with the Bible, and if it's not consistent with it then I can count on my hearing wrong. But that spontaneous Word of God that comes from the Person of the Holy Spirit contains the same amount of healing, promise and hope that the physical Word of God does.

Someone at church on Sunday compared the written word of God to water for our souls, and the spoken "power" word to our spirits as the light of God. If we only have the written word without listening for the Person speaking to our hearts, we get water-logged. If we only have our ears pinned to heaven and don't open the Bible, we get dried up from trying to look just at the light. But if we marry the two, and value the two, the written Word and the heart-Word, then we find two elements that are intrinsic to the growth of ourself as that tree planted by the streams of water.

1 comment:

  1. Charis- beautifully written. I can relate to so many of your sentiments. When I don't get a handle on the Word of God, not only am I overwhelmed, but, selfishly, a little frustrated. I ask for wisdom (James 1), but when I don't have that "ah-ha, lightbulb on" moment I wonder where I went wrong. Am I not listening to the Word? Did I not "do my part" as you put it.
    You make a great point about not only reading the Word, but also listening. I hope to be more cognizant of that.
    Keep up the great work! I happened to see this post on Facebook, and I'm glad I did!
    -catherine hiller