April 20-26 has been filled with meaningful events in my life. I was born on April 26; years later I was baptized on April 20. Several other significant events, including some of both my happiest and most bitter memories, occurred during these dates on the calendar. This past week, I reflected on my life as I neared another birthday. As I assessed the impact of various events on who I am, I identified areas for improvement in my walk with God. As I look forward, I’m excited about the possibilities I have for service even while a new fear recently entered my life when I was told at a ministry interview that I was “too old.” I don’t think so; active learning and challenging physical exercise are still important parts of my life.
Two prayers from Psalm 99 parallel my thoughts as I go forward. Our God loves justice; injustice causes him to don his armor and “go to war.” The psalmist prays, “Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob” (Psalm 99:4). Although I suffered during some times in my life, in retrospect I see those times as when God was disciplining me a loving Father corrects his son (see Hebrews 12 for additional biblical thoughts on this subject). He also prays, “O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings“(Psalm 99:8). God does not write us a blank check; he expects accountability for our actions. As the final verse of Psalm 99 implies, God’s holiness forms a critical part of why we worship him and how we seek to be like him in character: “Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy” (Psalm 99:9). Even when God forgave David for his sins of murder and adultery, David continued to bear the spiritual scars of those sins and suffer their consequences for the rest of his life. David, however, did not give up. He continued to serve God courageously until the end of his life. That is my goal as well. As some doors appear to close, I pray that God will help me see the place in the wall where I can build a new door to productive service for him.
I conclude this post with an expansion of a prayer I led to conclude this morning’s worship service at Oliver Creek Church of Christ in Bartlett, Tennessee after hearing a dynamic lesson by Andy Miller on reaching out to the religiously non-affiliated in our society:
“Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Give us understanding of your will and courage to live it. Through your word, help us to acquire the vision that Jesus had for transforming our world . Grant us the courage to pursue the vocation you have given us as your people. Help us to remember that we are your workmanship, created for a purpose. Make us instruments, Lord, of your peace. In Jesus name, Amen.”