As we have done throughout previous Lenten and Advent seasons, we are again blogging through the Lectionary readings in this Lenten season. This year, however, due to our travels in Central Asia, we have asked a number of guests to blog for us. These guests are individuals who are influential in our lives and work. We're honored to share this space with them-and with you–in this season of reflection.
A reading from the Psalms.
God—you're my God! I can't get enough of you! I've worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts.
So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you.
I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It's time to shout praises! If I'm sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you've always stood up for me, I'm free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.
— Psalm 63:1-8 (MSG)
Samuel is dead.
Saul is chasing David.
David is living in a Philistine city.
Times are–shall we say–tough.
There is no clear indication that this skirmish with Saul is going to end at any point in the near future. In fact, in 1 Samuel 27:1 David is even doubtful that he will ever see the promise of God–the fulfillment of his annointing as king at the hand of the now dead Samuel.
There's a common thread in most Bible stories–and most of our stories. This thread is the idea of being caught somewhere between a promise and the fulfillment of that promise. It strikes us as all stages of life. Sometimes, we even find ourselves somewhere between multiple promises and their fulfillment. The question for us is not what are we doing to hold on to the promise or to hurry it's fulfillment (as if that works), but rather what we do in the in-between places.
David is clearly in an in-between place. He knows what God has said. But, the person who told him what God said is dead (1 Samuel 25:1). His one lifeline to the promise isn't around to keep him anchored any longer, and David is losing hope.
It is In this in-between place where David pens today's text.
David has discovered something about the in-between places. These places aren't about the promise or the fulfillment of the promise. These places are about our response to God. How do you respond in the in-between.
Do you worry?
Do you quit?
Are you in the fetal position in the corner in tears?
Or, do you respond as David does and worship?
David had spent countless nights under the stars tending the sheep and worshiping. It was in this place of worship that David learned some important things about God, and God's desire for him. He knew–I mean he really KNEW–who God was. Not just rumors of God, but he knew God firsthand (as our friend Glenn Packiam puts it). And, it was this knowledge that sustained, and even made David to thrive, in the wilderness.
Notice in our text how David doesn't discount the hardships of the wilderness–the in-between place. He hits it head-on in the first sentence. But, unlike we often do, he doesn't hang out there. Yes, it's hard. That's reality….BUT!
David quickly shifts his attention to worshipping. He acknowledges who this God that he knows so intimately is. He lavishes praise to God.
And out of this place of worship, hope–that confident and joyful expectation in the goodness of God–for the promise is restored.
He goes from hunger and thirst to prime rib and gravy!
He goes from hiding out in an enemy town to running and playing in the fields.
He goes from running for his life to being held steady as a post.
He understands that in the in-between our hope must be centered not in the promise, but rather in the One who made the promise. Hope must come from a place of intimately knowing God. It must come from a firsthand faith.
And, it is in this place of worship and intimacy that we realize God truly is for us. He truly is holding to the promise that He made. Even when the fulfillment of that promise appears that it will never come to pass, He holds on to it. In this place of intimacy, our hope is renewed.
Whatever in-between place you find yourself in at this moment, stop. Take a deep breath. Fall back into the arms of God. And, may your hope be restored.