The Bible refuses to be a warm and fuzzy book. Today’s readings are no exception. Harsh laws, sin, wrath, revenge and judgement coexist with obedience, devotion, love and life. The Old Testament tells the full story of a chosen people who desperately need their God, but continually turn away from him. God refuses to fit into any tame, “be nice” box. The stories we read illustrate the fact that God is God and we are not.
Psalms don’t always make us want to cozy up to their authors. Instead, they explore the range of human emotion. This speaks of the God who understands my inner workings and reaches out to me as I am. The authors’ transparency before God invites me to be honest with my Maker. Last night, I woke up frustrated, tossed and turned and my mind chased after every thought that seemed to pass by. Knowing that trying to will myself back to sleep was useless, I cried out to God, turned on the light and read “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you.” Psalm 139:17-18. This brought such peace to me; I wasn’t going crazy, God understood my racing mind and had already “out thought” me and was waiting for me in the wee hours of the morning.
If the Bible was always pretty and tame, I would be less likely to come to it. It’s honesty and rawness call the sinful and wounded places within me to come and receive forgiveness and healing from the God who understands the depths and nature of my need.
The power of God’s Word never weakens. John used the prophet Isaiah’s words to call our hearts back to God:
A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.’ Luke 3:4-5.
Lord, as John the Baptist used your Word 2000 years ago to call his people back to you, use your Word today to turn our hearts you so that we know the truth and live in it. Amen.