I run to you, God; I run for dear life. Don't let me down! Take me seriously this time! Get down on my level and listen, and please — no procrastination! Your granite cave a hiding place, your high cliff aerie a place of safety... My troubles have worn me out, turned my bones to powder. To my enemies I'm a monster; I'm ridiculed by the neighbors. My friends are horrified; they cross the street to avoid me. They want to blot me from memory, forget me like a corpse in a grave, discard me like a broken dish in the trash.
(Parts of Psalm 31: The Message Translation)
"Back in the day" there was a TV sitcom that starred Patrick Duffy and Suzanne Somers called Step by Step. It was about two families coming together to be one. Both parents came from different situations, and the kids had certain "ways of thinking and acting" that pushed both parents — the biological parent and the step parent. Like most sitcoms, there was a conflict that arose from communications, parenting, expectations, etc. Of course, by the end of the episode, everything had been worked out after we "laughed it up" through their conflict.
One of my favorite episodes is when one of the daughters is trying to help Carol (Suzanne's character) around the house. She invests time and effort to reorganize the kitchen cabinets which she thinks is more "user-friendly." Carol, however, sees the new organizational paradigm, and redoes it to her liking. Conflict ensues when Carol says to the daughter, "You way is good. My way is better."
I use that line on my wife when I create a "new cabinet paradigm" for our kitchen, or put dishes in the dishwasher and she rearranges my efforts. I can't even begin to count the number of times I have used that line. Of course, we use it as a joke between us. But what if I used it to keep score of the number of times when she has undone what I did? What if I thought she was correcting me as opposed to doing something that seems to work, even against my worthy efforts? What if our relationship was based on being wronged by the other and wanting to retaliate?
Have you been involved in a relationship where you feel like you are being "wronged" by that person or those people in that relationship? Have you found yourself being mad at God for not answering your prayers in ways you find acceptable? Have you found in your relationship with God and others that you can "fix" things to your benefit?
In the Psalm 31 passage I shared, the psalmist is not taking this relationship with God as a joke to laugh about like the situation is a sitcom. This is serious stuff. This is a painful time in their relationship with those around them. This is a plea to God to help their despair and hopelessness because it appears their way is not working! Have you found yourself in the psalmist's "shoes?" Have your troubles "worn you out?"
This Sunday we will continue our study of covenants. We will investigate Jeremiah 31:31-34 to see how the prophet helps us to understand God's way of the "new covenant." I hope you join us in worship this Sunday.