We talk a lot about Jesus in church circles. We sing about how mighty He is to save. We celebrate His resurrection with joy and flowers and family meals. But what is it really all about?
How do we take an intellectual understanding of grace and salvation and make it something that has an impact on our daily lives? How does it become real for us in this moment?
I don’t know about you, but it is incredibly difficult for me to fully embrace the promise of heaven. I believe I am going there one day (hopefully in the very distant future.) However, that promise doesn’t really speak to my needs in the present. Life in eternity is all good and wonderful. However, I have more concrete concerns and worries today. How does Jesus play into this picture?
When I think about my needs for this day, Psalm 23 comes to mind. Most of us will recognize it as the “funeral psalm.” But look again. It is the everyday, living psalm. In it, we find the promises of God for us in this moment. We don’t have to wait until our crossover comes to experience the vastness of God’s love and grace toward us. We can have them now.
Today’s exercise is incredibly deep. It takes us to our deepest fears and needs, and then presents us with the opportunity to trust in God for all of them. It bears truth to the reality of our relationship with our Savior – is it real and life-giving, or is it all academic, without root or substance?
Try it. Take this version of the psalm and write it out. Then, write it out again, but with the exact opposite meaning. For example, my alternate line one might read:
“I have no one watching over me, I don’t have everything I need.”
You can do this for the entire psalm (which I highly, highly recommend.) Or you can choose the verse that speaks to you the most. Don’t worry about getting right. Your spirit will create the words for you. Once you have finished the exercise, then read both versions.
Which one is the reality of your life today? Which version is the expression of your soul?
Many of us Christ-followers say and sing all the right things, but do not trust the promises with our hearts. Many of us show up at church with smiles on our faces while we are overcome with doubts, fears, and anxieties on the inside.
Take the time today. Meditate on this psalm. Every word of it, as if it is the first time you have ever seen it. Your interior work for the foreseeable future is to stay with these promises until you are living them and believing them. It will not be easy. And for many of us, not quick. But this is what the spiritual life is all about. This is what we are living for. Do not let the world take it from you, dear friends. Embrace the assurance as if your life depends on it. For it surely does.
Grace and peace to you.
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
He renews my strength.
He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid,
for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord forever