Friday, May 02, 2008

Portion Control

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m on my own Bible Reading Schedule. And even though I feel bad about missing a lot of what the church is reading together, I haven’t, at this moment, left my own routine because God has been so faithful in pursuing me and showing me his will and purposes day by day. Yesterday I read, depressingly, of Uzziah being stricken with leprosy in the temple for offering up incense when he was not authorized to do so.

But then the Psalm for the day, for me, was Psalm 73. And, as usual, the words of the psalmist traced themselves over the experience of my days and times.

“Why” I have recently asked God, “Are the wicked allowed to prosper?” Why don’t you do something about the mess of the church, or the neglect and abuse of children, or the continued unmitigated slaughter of unborn babies?

So I read the opening lines of the psalm.
Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked…”
Lest God does not know the ways and perverseness of the wicked, the Psalmist describes them for 9 verses.
“They are not in trouble as others are; they are not stricken like the rest of mankind…pride is their necklace; violence covers them as a garment…”
“Do not,” said a lady in my Bible Study, “compare yourself to anyone else! Don’t do it!” It is so easy to compare. It is so easy to look around at the world and then measure yourself, up or down, according to what you see. But the comparing road is a slippery road. First, because in the world, the goodness or wickedness to be seen has to be teased out, like pick up sticks. With all the good is mixed in a little bad. In all the bad a little good can be discovered, a way to let someone off the hook, or a means of forgiveness discovered. And second, because we are all a little stricken.
But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task…”
And here also I have dwelt, weary to understand what is going on in other people’s minds and hearts. I cannot know.
“ …until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end…”
And that is where the rubber meets the road. Either we get on board with God, we go to him on his own terms and learn what he purposes and Is, or we slip and grow weary and envious and faint hearted. The road of pride is filled with the stones of anxiety, malice, envy and trouble.
"Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion for ever.”
And then, shoving away cats and putting a plug (pacifier) in G’s mouth, I turned over and read “But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Lk 10:41
A full portion of Jesus, a full measure of time with God. That is all I require.

4 comments:

Perpetua said...

I am not sure if I submitted this comment or not. So, please delete if it is done twice.

Hi Anne+,

This is a great Psalm and an interesting personal reflection on it. I find that my envy dissolves when I am doing God's will. Everything I thought I wanted seems trivial when I am using my gifts and talents for what I am confident is God's will.

But that wasn't the Psalm in the Lectionary, was it? I recently found an online Lectionary at Hills of the North and started using it to get the Lectionary readings.
Here is what it gives for Friday.
http://www.gnpcb.org/esv/devotions/bcp/?date=2008-05-02
This matches the Gospel that Magic Statistics was using but has a different Epistle:
http://magicstatistics.com/2008/05/02/saint-athanasius-of-alexandria/
And it doesn't match up with your Psalm reading.

So, I was so happy when I thought I had the Lectionary online, but now I am confused.

Anne Kennedy said...

Sorry to confuse you. I should have been more specific. I'm not actually using a lectionary. Good Shepherd is using a read the Bible in a year (but also tied to the church year) cycle. But its a lot of scripture, morning an night, every day, and I just can't process it. I'm sort of doing my own thing in my own way. I read a chapter of the old testament, a psalm, a chapter of the gospels and a chapter of the new. When I end one section I just cycle back. It takes me a lot longer than a year to get through the Bible, especially because when I don't remember something from the day before, I go back and read it again.
That was probably a lot longer explanation than you wanted.
Sorry.

Perpetua said...

Hi Anne+,

Thank you for explaining. I had it on my Goals for 2008 to start a daily Bible study so reading the Daily Office is new to me and I am very interested in how different people (especially Anglicans) are approaching their bible studies.

I was sorry to drop in out of nowhere and go off topic, because you had written a meaningful personal reflection on Psalm 73.

I see in the post that you referred to a previous post that explained the bible Study program. So , is there a way for people who visit your blog to locate the other posts like this that you have done?

Anne Kennedy said...

perpetua, so sorry I haven't even been online. At your suggestion, I'm going to try and make a new category of posts-probably Psalm Meditations or Scripture or something, and then a different one for sermons. It'll take a while, but over time I should be able to sort through. I've never been good about remembering to do categories. When I get it up, I'll post it on the main page. Thanks for Reading!