How I got a splinter in my soul and how to get it out. . .

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March 11, 2014

Psalm 39

I said, “I will watch all my ways, and keep my tongue from sin;
I’ll put a muzzle on my mouth while with such wicked men.”

But while I silent was and still, not even speaking good;
The anguish in my soul increased, though try as best I could.

My heart grew hotter within me, as, thinking one by one
of all my troubles, the fire burned; then I spoke with my tongue:

“Show me, O Lord, what is my life, the number of my days;
Make me to know how fast it flies; beyond self my eyes raise.

For You have made life but a breath; my days but a short span;
My years as nothing before You, a mere breath is each man.

And phantom-like we go about, we scurry all in vain;
We heap up wealth, yet know not who will end up with our gain.

So what, O Lord, do I look for? My only hope’s in You.
Save me from all transgression and the scorn of fools subdue.

I’m silent, and keep my mouth closed, for You all this have done.
Remove Your scourge from me, O Lord; by You I’m overcome.

For You rebuke and discipline, all men for all their sin;
And You consume our wealth – it flies, like moths before the wind.

O hear my prayer, O Lord my God, and listen to my cry;
Don’t be deaf to my weeping, Lord – cast off by You am I.

To You a stranger, alien, am I, as all before;
Turn Your gaze from me – give relief, before I am no more.”

CONSIDER THIS. . .

I remember as a child, somewhere in that season around the so-called “age of accountability,” I got a splinter in my soul. Reading my bible one morning I came across Matthew  16:26:

“For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”

These words bothered me. They still do. They set up a stark contrast I have never managed to get past. On the one hand: the whole world. On the other hand: my soul. I so want to dwell somewhere in the decision-less middle. I want a life overflowing with monetary wealth and I want a soul filled with God. The text tells me I must decide on one or the other. As a kid, I somehow knew the splinter of this saying would pulsate with nagging pain until I aimed my life in one of these two directions. It was clear to me. These roads led to two completely different destinations and one of those would look like great gain and yet be complete loss. Little did I know at the time how these words would stick in my soul like a tiny shard of wood even to the present day. As an adult I now know this is not a one time transaction. It’s an every day decision.

Though there’s a lot going on in Song #39, these stanzas strike me as the heart of it.

“Show me, O Lord, what is my life, the number of my days;
Make me to know how fast it flies; beyond self my eyes raise.

For You have made life but a breath; my days but a short span;
My years as nothing before You, a mere breath is each man.

And phantom-like we go about, we scurry all in vain;
We heap up wealth, yet know not who will end up with our gain.”

It’s a prayer for the big picture. The song lifts me out of the messy melody of today and shows me the music of a lifetime. How often am I getting to a place where I can see the whole score and grasp the shortness of the soundtrack of my life? This is the agenda of the 40 days of Lent. Remember how it all began– “From dust you have come and to dust you shall return– repent and believe the Gospel.”

So what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and forfeit their soul?

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor.  “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.” Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”

I bet he was singing Song #39.

Give it a shot today– sing it. CLICK HERE

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