July 19th – Psalm 86:11-13 “An Undivided Heart”

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

Scripture Reading: Psalm 86:11-13

Teach me your way, O Lord,

    that I may walk in your truth;

    give me an undivided heart to revere your name.

I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.

For great is your steadfast love toward me;

    you have delivered my soul from the depths of hell.

Before the Pandemic, people were telling me that they were too busy and too rushed.  They had too many obligations, too many school functions, and too much time spent traveling in a mad dash from one place to another.  There are some folks that still have a heavy workload and many responsibilities, but most have schedules that are not as busy as they were.

As we are distanced by this disease, we are feeling a lot of stress and strain.  Beyond the disease itself, the political climate is about as peaceful as a category 4 hurricane.  For the most part, people are trying to distract themselves with things like television, spending more time cooking, becoming obsessive about little projects around home.  It is nice when people distract themselves with something creative or beneficial, but we are often missing an opportunity.

There is something extremely peaceful about today’s Bible passage.  It is best read in a slow voice that lingers on the words. “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”  As Christians, we ought to benefit from the great gift of peace that God’s word offers us.”  Rather than simply distracting ourselves, we should also take this opportunity to seek the inner peace of an undivided heart.

In a sermon I heard many years ago, a pastor who had grown up in an inner city told a story about a barrier.  He and his friends had little access to parks or areas to play.  An old wooden warehouse in their neighborhood had been burnt down because it was unsafe.  This left a wide-open flat field that looked like a perfect place to play baseball.  The only problem was that there was the remnant of a brick wall somewhere between where the pitcher’s mound and second and third bases should be. The wall made it impossible to have a decent game.  So, some of the boys got permission and borrowed a couple of sledgehammers to take down the wall.  They made a lot of progress, but it still had a long way to go.  Their parents, impressed by their children’s hard work, got together, and took down the wall themselves.  The field became a favorite place of the children in the neighborhood and eventually became part of an expanded city park.

We all have barriers that keep us from doing what we want to do.  We even have barriers in our hearts and minds that keep God out and prevent us from knowing God’s peace.

We build walls around our hearts and souls because the world is often a threat.  Lots of us have built up walls against God, because we know that he made this frightening world.  If you really think about the unlimited power of God, he can seem like the worst threat of all.  Every cataclysm or threat we have experienced has come from the creation God made.

The extreme power of God is also reason to desire the peace he offers us.  The peace of God not only goes beyond understanding, it is undefeatable where it takes hold.

We ask God to give us “an undivided heart to revere his name.”  But the Psalm goes on to tell us why we should dismantle our barriers to God.  “I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of hell.”  God’s love is great and steadfast (powerful and dependable). To say that God has delivered us from hell means that God can rescue us from our times of serious depression and overwhelming anxiety.

So, if we are to enjoy the peace that God offers us, we should look to see what barriers are there to keep us from that joy.  God does not force his way against our barriers.  He does not take down our barriers against our will.  But he gives us enough assurance to take down the wall ourselves.  We all need to spend some time with a sledgehammer to remove the things that divide us from God, love, and happiness.

You have an opportunity to find peace.  Spend some time in pleasant distractions but give yourself some time and effort to be kind to yourself.  And if you remove barriers that are keeping you from trust, love, and peace, many people will benefit from your openness and example.

God can be frightening because his power is enough to terrify anyone, but this is the God that sent his Son to bring you assurance of love and peace.  God is not a conquering enemy. God is your rescuer.  Take down the barriers that keep you from enjoying your rescue.  God can deliver your soul from the hell of worry, fear, and anxiety.  Take a sledgehammer to that old brick wall so that you can greet and welcome your rescue.

Questions to Ponder:  Do you have any barriers in your psyche that were built to keep you safe from the vulnerabilities of love and dangers of the world?  What are you willing to do to remove any of those barriers?

Blessings,

Pastor Rick