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.