Psalms – Prayers of Honesty
I came home tired yesterday from grocery shopping and errand running. It was a cold and windy evening so I poured a cup of water into the coffee maker to make a wonderful mug of decaf coffee. I was also putting groceries away, making popcorn and cleaning up…all at the same time. Ah, multi-tasking. We think we are good at it. I am peacefully dreaming about sitting down to a nice, hot mug of mocha, when I hear a dripping sound on the floor. For the first time in my life, I did not put a mug under the drip dispenser to catch all the wonderful goodness I was waiting for and excited to drink to make me warm.
WHAT A MESS! I lost it! I blamed myself for not paying closer attention. I went to work to unplug the maker so I could clean up the mess. I literally “threw in the towel”, (and many more) to soak up what could have been a nice cup of peace while sitting on my couch. I was angry at myself and at the situation. I questioned how one mug of coffee could be in so many places while on my knees reaching and stretching to get every drop. This time my coffee was NOT good to the last drop. (Old commercial, many of you won’t get the reference.) I spent about 30 minutes cleaning this mess and letting everything dry out.
Many of God’s people turned away from Him for awhile. They made a mess of their lives and very existence! Their attention was drawn to other gods, to worldly behaviors, to all that was not pleasing to God. God sent prophets to tell them what would happen in their disobedience but they didn’t listen. Their lack of trust and belief in God caused their children to not know God. The sins of the fathers where on their children! Now they have a royal mess, created by their own unrighteous living.
“God, Barbarians have broken into your home, violated your holy temple, left Jerusalem a pile of rubble!”
God’s people discover that you can avoid God and His ways for just so long. They realized that in accepting the world they lost the Creator. Our self created messes result from our lack of attention, praise, and worship of our One and Only living God and then we wonder where God goes in a crisis. God is always there but He cannot be where sin is. God separates Himself for our sin until we decide to come back to Him. God is a gentleman who does not force His way into our hearts. God waits until we realize the mess we have made. He waits for us to want Him back, realizing our need for a loving Father. Because of God’s love, mercy and grace He made a way for us to come back. Jesus is that Way.
When my attention was not fully on the task to create a mug of goodness, I failed to complete the work. I didn’t blame others for my failure. I didn’t blame God for creating me to be an easily distracted person. I didn’t tell others, “that’s just the way I am, deal with it”. I did grumble at myself WHILE cleaning up my mess. I pray I won’t let that mess happen again! If fact, this morning a cup of wonderful was made. Guess what I did first? The MUG went into place BEFORE everything else. Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. I do a lot of learning!
Asaph, the Psalmist, is crying out to God for His people who are in a devastating mess. The Babylonians, as predicted, came in to destroy all the things of God. They destroyed The Temple, killed many and took the rest captive.
Psalm 79, The Message
An Asaph Psalm
1-4 God! Barbarians have broken into your home,
violated your holy temple,
left Jerusalem a pile of rubble!
They’ve served up the corpses of your servants
as carrion food for birds of prey,
Threw the bones of your holy people
out to the wild animals to gnaw on.
They dumped out their blood
like buckets of water.
All around Jerusalem, their bodies
were left to rot, unburied.
We’re nothing but a joke to our neighbors,
graffiti scrawled on the city walls.
5-7 How long do we have to put up with this, God?
Do you have it in for us for good?
Will your smoldering rage never cool down?
If you’re going to be angry, be angry
with the pagans who care nothing about you,
or your rival kingdoms who ignore you.
They’re the ones who ruined Jacob,
who wrecked and looted the place where he lived.
8-10 Don’t blame us for the sins of our parents.
Hurry up and help us; we’re at the end of our rope.
You’re famous for helping; God, give us a break.
Your reputation is on the line.
Pull us out of this mess, forgive us our sins—
do what you’re famous for doing!
Don’t let the heathen get by with their sneers:
“Where’s your God? Is he out to lunch?”
Go public and show the godless world
that they can’t kill your servants and get by with it.
11-13 Give groaning prisoners a hearing;
pardon those on death row from their doom—you can do it!
Give our jeering neighbors what they’ve got coming to them;
let their God-taunts boomerang and knock them flat.
Then we, your people, the ones you love and care for,
will thank you over and over and over.
We’ll tell everyone we meet
how wonderful you are, how praiseworthy you are!
SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT…
The question the palmist is asking and we ask sometimes is, “How long do we have to put up with this, God?” After my mess, I am humbled. What jumps out to me today is this thought: How long will God put up with us!
It’s time to come to God with our full attention on Him with every thought and action guided by His Holy Spirit. It’s time to clean up the “Babylonian” mess we have made of our lives caused by living with divided attentions. We cannot continue to live like the world with very short attention spans while trying to live in God’s best and perfect ways.
Choose this day whom you will serve!
Peace comes when we are centered and focused on the One who loves us most. Our main focus is knowing what God wants and doing it. The peace of Christ overwhelms us when we put all our attention on Him, even in challenging situations. Jesus is the TRUTH of God, the WAY to live for God and is the eternal LIFE with God.
Paul’s rich message to the Ephesians helps us with our attention spans: “And so I insist—and God backs me up on this—that there be no going along with the crowd, the empty-headed, mindless crowd. They’ve refused for so long to deal with God that they’ve lost touch not only with God but with reality itself. They can’t think straight anymore. Feeling no pain, they let themselves go in sexual obsession, addicted to every sort of perversion.”
“But that’s no life for you. You learned Christ! My assumption is that you have paid careful attention to him, been well instructed in the truth precisely as we have it in Jesus. Since, then, we do not have the excuse of ignorance, everything—and I do mean everything—connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. Get rid of it! And then take on an entirely new way of life—a God-fashioned life, a life renewed from the inside and working itself into your conduct as God accurately reproduces his character in you.” (Ephesians 4:17-24, The Message)
Also, “Watch what God does, then you do it. like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t’ love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” (Ephesians 5, The Message)
What is dividing my attention this day?
How long has it been since I’ve talked to God and sat long enough to listen to what He wants for me?
Who really guides my every thought and action?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for teaching us with love, mercy and grace when we fall prey to failures and mistakes. Thank you for teaching us through Your Word of the experiences of your people who made a mess but turned back to you to help them. Thank you for being a patient, gentle God who waits for us to come back, fully attentive, redeemed by Jesus, ready to follow you…after cleaning up the mess we made.
In Jesus Name, Amen