all there is

it is a divinely happy thought that, though i fail and stray and falter often, i do not stand on my own merit, be it good or bad. my righteous deeds are as filthy rags, and at my weakest point the strength of Christ is perfected, and yet i am already approved regardless of what i have merited.

approved on the life, death, and victory over death of Christ.

i have no other claim. i can claim nothing more. that is all there is.

it is a divinely happy thought.


how long, how long, how long?

i distinctly remember reading psalm 13 in high school. i remember it so distinctly because it totally confused me.

how long, O Lord? will You forget me forever?
how long will You hide your face from me? 

how long shall i take counsel in my soul,
having sorrow in my heart all the day? 
how long will my enemy be exalted over me? 

consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
enlighten my eyes, or i will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say, 'i have overcome him,'
and my adversaries will rejoice when i am shaken. 

when i was younger, no only did it seem totally uncouth and arrogant to ask such questions of God, as if this were a cross-examination to uncover His of malevolent intentions, but on a fundamental level, the inquiries seemed irrelevant for someone whose hope is in the Lord.

i mean, really!? "how long will you forget me?" come on. hey psalmist, don't you know that even if a mother could forget her own child, even then the Lord could not forget his own? our names are written on the palm of His hand? He has seen every day of our lives and can number the hairs on our head? PSH! like HE could ever forget us? why would you ask such a silly question?

and, come on, dude. get your face out of the mud! sorrow in your heart all day long? and seriously, you're ready to die because you're convinced the Lord doesn't see you? can somebody please say it--you're delusional.

or maybe you're just incredibly impatient. don't you know the Lord commands the stars to rise and the sun to set, and He is master over time and space because He created it? i mean, can't you give Him a LITTLE credit that He knows what He is doing inside of time? wait on His timing, it's obviously right. quit your little pity-party and buck up. geez.

that was the mindset of my 16-year-old self. maybe it was because i only asked such questions when i was being selfish and whiney. maybe it was because i was afraid of asking the Lord to faithfully display His own nature to me more fully. maybe it was because i had already been waiting on the Lord for three whole years (since i became a believer), and, you know, waiting wasn't turning out to be all that hard.

until it was. ten years later.

and the dull ache of loneliness starts to settle into my bones.
and the long hours, days, weeks... years of silence from the Lord starts to deafen my ears to the truth.
and the painful struggle against the temptation of habitual sin starts to seem unconquerable.
and the growing emptiness of unrealized hopes and dreams starts to numb me of all desire.
and the futility of every effort taken to repair broken relationships starts to build up walls of bitterness.
the the endless string of morning upon morning, evening upon evening, where all i can say is, "Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner in constant need of grace."

it's wearying.

and now i understand the psalmist, who undoubtedly waited so much longer than 10 years for the Lord to return, repair, restore, resurrect. i understand the plea: how long, o Lord? how long? how long? i'm not looking for an estimated wait time or a countdown calendar. i'm asking for your PRESENCE. be here, with me, now, and fix this. only You can. show up. do it. i'm DONE. i'm so stinkin' done with all this crap.  get here, now. where are you? i know, i know, you're "everywhere." but i mean, where are your purposes and where is your truth and goodness in the middle of all this waiting? i don't get it, Lord, and i'm starting to lose sight of the horizon.

but i have trusted in Your lovingkindness.
my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 
i will sing to the Lord, 
because He has dealt bountifully with me. 

there it is. the rooting of our souls. the foundation of our faith. the watch by which we measure all waiting. His nature. His love. His plan for salvation. He has proven Himself in the past; if only we would be reminded more frequently.

and i am not asking to accuse or to whine or to convince Him to change the plan. no, i ask because i need Him to know that i need Him today. i ask because i am so very weary and He is so very good. the only good; the best good. i ask because i need to know that this is not the final chapter, that one day He will be the dawn and the darkness will forever die. i ask because i have not forsaken the hope that He provides. i ask so that i can keep looking forward. i ask so that i can live. i ask because if i don't ask, i may die.

how long? how long? how long until this burden is lifted?
how long? how long is this the song that we sing?
how long until the reckoning?
--andrew peterson--