The Holy Spirit lead me to a new insight this morning with the reading of Psalm 50 – a deeper understanding of the what it takes for a believer’s memory to be refreshed, renewed, and restored. It’s a question more than a deeper understanding – what does it take to recall God the Creator in all things, so that I go to the Lord first with praise and thanksgiving and always in times of trouble?
Money motivates and triggers memory, as illustrated by the comic Dan Piraro, but what about those of us professing a kingdom-living life? What motivates and triggers our memories – the most important of all, that the Lord, God is all.
It is easy to forget, day in day out, that all of life, all of my life – this world, the generation into which one is born, the chaos and the order, family, friends, enemies, homes, livelihoods, children, intelligence, curiosities, provision, mountains, seas – well, you get the idea – all of it comes from the Lord, God. And knowing – being aware as the psalm opens that…
1 The mighty one, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth…
should be enough to ground all our comings and goings on any given day. So what does it take?
Does it take a blessing to refresh our memories of God – to not forget God? It feels like that, sometimes. People are quick to give God praise and thanks when it’s all working out as they had hoped. Whether its provision, a promotion, a new this, a new that. Believers are quick to offer God praise and thanksgiving. Is that what it takes to ‘not forget God,’ as Psalm 50 warns? Seems simple enough. Begin with praise of God, give thanks to God at my awakening, and I’m good to go for another day. As one of the most popular social media posts reminds:
What this psalm suggested to me anew is that we believers forget because we do rely on blessings to trigger our memory that all comes from God. We look to blessings to tell us we are living as we are called to live. But, hmmm…there’s a warning in this psalm about those of us who fall into the praise camp.
I haven’t before understood the ‘wicked’ as believers-gone-bad, but instead, as the other – the non-believer, the gentile, not of Israel. But that’s not the case. God is speaking to me – to us – to those of us who should know better.
22 ‘Mark this, then, you who forget God,
or I will tear you apart, and there will be no one to deliver.
23 Those who bring thanksgiving as their sacrifice honour me;
to those who go the right way*
I will show the salvation of God.’
Believers cannot just give lip service to Lord, God. God doesn’t want the false praise, the vacuous thanksgivings. God wants all of who I am.
If I am not turning to the Lord in times of trouble, trusting God to deliver me, but instead deferring to my own law-driven pull myself up by my own bootstraps thinking, then I am forgetting God. If I praise God for the blessings but try to keep away from God my troubles, try to take care of them in my own way, then I am forgetting God.
Believers who forget, who stay away from God when things go badly, trusting no one but their own version of things , thinking they know what the other side looks like, thinking they can figure the mess out before too long, going dark, going within…those are the wicked of today’s psalm. Those are the ones who forget God.
The Lord, God gives us a simple – not easy – but simple way to not forget Him. Come to me, as Jesus says later, come to me all who are heavy burdened and I will refresh you. This is the trigger, the motivator to my memory of the Lord, God. Thanksgiving. Not denying the trials, the troubles, the despair, the darkness, but thanking the Lord for them.
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving,* and pay your vows to the Most High. 15 Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.’
Lectionary Readings: AM Psalm 50; PM Psalm [59, 60] or 66, 67
Joshua 9:3-21; Rom. 15:1-13; Matt. 26:69-75