"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Happy Endings

Psalm 73 begins by reiterating God's goodness to those of Israel who are pure in heart. It's kind of like the good news before the bad, because the Psalmist has some hard things to say.
        Despite God's goodness, the writer had found himself stumbling along through life. Why? Because he ceased watching God and His law, and began lusting on worldly things: the rewards of selfishness.
        The same mind-set that drags us down plagued the Psalmist. We watch celebs of questionable character flaunt their prosperity through their entertainment media. We read about special interests shoveling obscene wealth into the government fat-cats' stretching pockets. The ENRON scandal demonstrates Big Business's wholesale corruption; they were busted, but how many aren't? Then there are the Mafia wise-guys, the gang bosses who have whole cities' vice operations neatly sewn up.
        With the Psalmist, we become envious of the fruit of corruption and the profit of arrogance.
        We shout to the heavens, demanding to know why the wicked suffer no consequences for their wickedness. Their posh lifestyles and gaudy luxury make no suggestion of a coming reckoning. Where is the justice? Smooth-sailing and insulation from the normal rigors of life reward their wickedness.
        They seem to buy, or intimidate, their way our of every consequence, wearing the Teflon® coat of violence.
        And, oh, it gets worse, as they prosper in every imaginable way. Why are they allowed to enjoy such unspeakable pleasures when so many suffer because of them? If we tried tasting of their rewards, we would surely get busted and suffer for our indiscretions.
        Since God seems to approve of their wicked actions, maybe we aught to change our definitions of right and wrong. Such people do seem to have all the power, and by kowtowing to them we could share in some of their wealth.
        The righteous among us cry out to God, demanding to know why He overlooks the graft and corruption. "Don't you see all this going on, God?"
        Witnessing all this profitable injustice, we ask why we bother trying to live righteously. Number one, we are nowhere near that bad! And number two, we're quite religious. Doesn't that count for anything?
        Why, all I get for my goodness is more trouble, morning and night. Where's the justice, O God?
        By verse fifteen, the Psalmist tires of all his whining and grousing, so he reveals his true purpose in such a tirade. If that were his true attitude, and those were his actual complaints, he would have betrayed God's people for all generations.
        The Psalmist grows quite weary, trying to psych-out God's purpose in all this apparent injustice. And today, God-followers remain strangely mute in the face of such challenges as, "Why do the good and upright suffer horrible calamities, while the rich get richer and the fat-cats get fatter?"
        The first half of Psalm 73 demonstrates how humanly normal it is to gaze on the apparent injustices of life, how easy it is to allow such trouble to fill our field of view. Then in verse seventeen, it issued the essential challenge of faith: We must enter God's sanctuary to gain wisdom about the difficult issues of life. And His sanctuary for us is not limited to a particular place, or even a network of places such as church buildings. The phrase, "... enter God's Sanctuary ..." means far more than the traveling tent that followed the Hebrews, or even the Temple of the Lord in Jerusalem. This is obvious, because lay people weren't ever allowed in the Temple's Most Holy Place. So the sanctuary we must enter—our Sanctuary—is the Lord Jesus Christ, first, last and always. When we seek His voice with all our hearts, confessing and repenting of our doubts and worldly values, His Holy Spirit will speak to us God's eternal perspective and answer all our questions with His supernatural peace.
        Truthfully, we may never learn the factual answers to life's toughest questions—this side of eternity. But we don't need to know such things, as long as we understand God's divine nature enough to accept what, in our carnal eyes, might seem unjust.
        We love, because He first loved us. And because we love God, we refuse to challenge His purposes--even when life seems to go sour. Fact is, when we love God, we know all things will ultimately work for our good. We view the happy endings of movies and books as pure fiction, knowing the warm satisfaction they give us will be short-lived. But in Romans 8:28, God guarantees happy endings for a select few: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (ESV)
        Do you want to trust God for your Happy Ending?

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