Psalm 116. Striding or Striving. The Eyes Have It.

Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 116. (MsgB)

I said to myself, “Relax and rest. God has showered you with blessings. Soul, you’ve been rescued from death. Eye, you’ve been rescued from tears. And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling.”

I’m striding in the presence of Godalive in the land of the living!


It’s amazing how one little letter can make such a big difference in our English language.

As I was reading through Psalm 116 today, I was so enjoying these verses where the author is talking to himself, telling his body to ‘relax and rest.’ I got a real kick on how the psalmist is speaking to himself, commanding each part of his body to behave.

Soul…be still…God has delivered you from death.

Eye…cool your jets….God has rescued you from tears.

Oh, and you, Foot….stop complaining…God has kept you from stumbling!

Then I got to verse 9 and my 60-plus-year-old eyes read the next verse this way…

I’m striving in the presence of Godalive in the land of the living!

I shook my head and thought…wait…that doesn’t make sense. There shouldn’t be any striving in the presence of the Lord!

I blinked a couple of times and sure nuff, I realized that I had mis-read the word.

I’m striding in the presence of Godalive in the land of the living!

That’s better. I kinda laughed to myself and was just getting ready to read on and then the Lord stopped me and whispered in my ear, “Marty…see how easy it is for you to strive in my presence instead of just resting and relaxing in Me?”

Ouch.

Gosh, Lord. I guess I gotta admit that You’re right.

Striving in the Lord’s presence is something we 3-B Pastors have done most of our careers.

What’s a 3-B Pastor, you ask?

As I see it, that is a guy or gal who is called by Jesus into the pastoral ministry but is defining his or her success, not by biblical standards, but by using what we call the 3-B Measuring Stick. In church life across North America, you see, pastors and their congregations are highly encouraged to pull out, on a regular basis, their 3-B Measuring Sticks so that they can objectively measure the amount of success (or shortcomings) in relationship to three primary components associated with a successful ministry.

Component #1: (B)uildings.

Component #2: (B)ucks.

Component #3: (B)utts in the seats.

If a church is doing well in all three of these components of the 3-B Measuring Stick, Hallelujah! God is good and so are we!

But pity the poor pastor and the church that is struggling in any or all of these 3-B Measuring Stick components! In truth, in North America, if your church meets in a smaller, under-equipped facility; takes in less than $20 per person on any given Sunday morning; and/or has less than 200 butts in the seats on any given weekend, you’re in trouble, dear friend.

As a result of this 3-B problem, most pastors, myself included, spend a lot of time in ministry striving in God’s presence instead of striding.

Hmm.

Come to think of it, a lot of my parishioners do that as well. Too bad we can’t be more like the psalmist in Psalm 116 and tell our body, mind and spirit to sit down, shut up, and take a nice, long loving look at our Most High God. Sad, isn’t it, that we end up working so hard to earn good stuff from God when all along, like the psalmist states, it’s God’s grace that carries us into His loving presence instead of all of our hard work and striving. Well, I guess my poor eyesight actually paid off pretty well today. Thanks God, I really needed that reminder!

My prayer: Lord, You did it again. Thanks for reminding me that my striving gets me nowhere in Your presence. It’s Your grace, Your mercy, and Your love that brings me into a place of quietness and rest…not my striving. Holy Spirit, I choose today to stop my striving so that I can do more striding in Your loving presence. For Your name’s sake. Amen.

My questions to ponder: What might my life look like if I chose regularly to stop my striving in the things of God and simply learned to rest and relax in the loving presence of my Holy Father? Like the psalmist, how might I speak to my soul, my body, and my spirit, telling myself today to sit down, shut up, and just bask in the beauty of the Lord?

So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?


Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.

If you like what you’re reading, might we suggest you share this page with others!

Click here to continue on this blog series…

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