“You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed. Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!” (Ps. 119:4-5 NIV)
It started with this simple excerpt from the Psalms (by the way, Psalm 119 is a gold mine of insights into the human soul, even if you don’t know God yet). I figured I would see if I could find something interesting in each word, or operative group, of the text. It would be a nice, quick meditation before I attempted to get some much-needed sleep…right?
I spent at least an hour extracting the meaning from of these two sentences. It was probably more…I eventually lost track of the time. In fact, I fell asleep before I could finish. How on earth, you ask, is there that much material in two short sentences?
I was just as stunned as you. The Spirit has a way of making things so much deeper and more intricate than they appear at face value. How He does it is beyond me…it’s mind-boggling.
I can only wonder what I’m missing in what I see and hear every day, the things I encounter briefly without giving them more than a second thought. What diversity of meaning, what profound inspiration has He hidden in the weak things of the world? What depth of wisdom has He infused into the simple and mundane? What beauty and complexity do we pass by, oblivious, because we are too busy and self-absorbed to give our attention to the subtleties of the inconspicuous?
Anyway…here is what I found. It is somewhat redundant, perhaps, but nonetheless much deeper than I had anticipated.
Not man, not nature, not the church, and certainly not me. You have laid down decrees. You alone are the source of truth and wisdom.
They are established. They are immovable. They are not in progress, and they will never change. They have existed with you in past eternity, and they will never end. They are done.
There is nothing ambiguous, nothing uncertain, nothing hidden about them. You have laid them out plainly for me to see. You have given me everything I need to know.
Not suggestions. And not specific instructions for every possible situation, either. Just simple, powerful, universal truths. Nothing more, nothing less.
to be fully obeyed
One does not simply violate them. It would be easier to violate the laws of physics. I can oppose them, to be sure, but only insofar as I am not destroyed by the equal and opposite reaction that results. If I am to fly to You, I must work with the laws and not against them.
It is not a request, it is a plea with the highest order of desperation. There is no other option. I don’t just want You, I need You every inch and every instant. I have nowhere else to go, nothing else to strive for. You are it.
Not my “former self,” not my “outer self.” You are an eternal and omnipresent God. Temporal and spacial distinctions are not separate to You; You see all of it all at once. I am what I have been and will ever be: a wretched sinner in need of Your perfect grace. My actions stem from it. I acknowledge them as my own before You.
Thoughts. Words. Feelings. Wills. Ideas. Acts. Methods. Processes. All the things that exist in concept or in practice as a result of my autonomy. Every mark on the chronology of my soul, and the souls of others, that I have made. The collection of all the points in space and time corresponding to me, those on which I glorify You and those on which I do not.
Alas, they are not. Make my paths straight according to Your unfailing love, for the glory of Your name.
Bold, unwavering, secure, selfless, unadulterated, eager, unhesitating, adoring, passionate, pure. Never conscious of my own corrupt inclinations, aware of nothing but Your holiness. Desirous completely and only of You.
Not before. Not as a result. Not from or because. In. In it, in You, in Your perfect design. In living every second for Your glory that is the answer to my deepest longings.
In other words, what I usually fail to do. What only You can give me grace to do. To surrender. No questions, no reservations, no rehearsal. Simple and straightforward “yes.”
Just in case I forgot, they are Yours. Not mine, and not life’s, and not health’s, and not science’s and not family’s, and not loved ones’, and not sanity’s…You are the source, the beginning and the end of it all.
They are not simply abstract principles, not passive pieces of information. They are Your dictation, alive, active, current, accomplishing Your purposes even as You speak them. They are mandates which cannot be revoked…only fulfilled. I can follow them or not, but You are using them all the same.