Guest Author: Sherry Thomas
My oldest daughter is incredibly sweet and she likes to relate to people by finding similarities. She has an amazing heart – I am biased but not alone in my assessment! So last night while I was washing dishes she asked me what my favorite book was, what my favorite movie was and what my favorite book of the Bible was. My answers were The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Rings and the answer to the last question was that my answer changes with whatever book I am studying or focused on at the time. Currently, my favorite book is the book of Psalms. We are reading it and discussing it as a family so I am spending a lot of time thinking about it. The other night when we were reading two verses stuck out to me from Psalm 86.
Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name. I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore. | Psalm 86:11-12
What initially caught my attention was the line that says “unite my heart to fear Your name.” Let’s look at the first part, “unite my heart.” How many times have you helped yourself to a big dessert or seconds of your favorite meal while also physically feeling your pants cut into your skin and remembering the “final straw” number on the scale that very morning? Then after succumbing to the temptation you might think to yourself, “This is ridiculous! How could I determine not to indulge and then indulge just a few short hours later?” Well the psalmist can relate spiritually which is why he asks God to unite his heart. He acknowledges to God that while part of his heart genuinely wants to be closer to Him in every way, there is another part(s) of his heart that desires other things aside from God. We can all relate! But what the psalmist does is different than what many of us do. We tend to try and fix the issue ourselves by resolving to do something different. We might try going to bed earlier, start a different Christian book that addresses some other Christian-related issue, switch to a more interesting book of the Bible or tell someone else our problem so they can give us their advice. The psalmist however thinks big picture. He needs to fix the root of the problem, which is his heart and who better to fix his heart than The One who created it? Thus, he asks God to unite his heart. Being a true follower of God or a “Christian” as we like to call ourselves does not mean that God is a part of your life. Being a Christian means He is your whole life! This doesn’t mean that we live a monastery or convent-type lifestyle and block out the secular world and secular jobs. Being a Christian means that everything we do, we do for the glory of God.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not to men. | Colossians 3:23
God knew we wouldn’t all be preachers or pastors or Sunday school teachers. Some of us were born to be janitors or doctors, stay-at- home moms or CEO’s, taxi cab drivers or government officials. But when a Christian does these things, it is for the Lord’s glory. To be clear, there are some jobs that can’t be done “as unto God” because they go against His laws and against His divine nature.
Further let’s clarify what the psalmist means when he says in the second part “to fear Your name.” The psalmist doesn’t mean he wants to be scared of God. What he wants is to fully comprehend the “bigness” of God so that he can live accordingly. As humans we downplay things we don’t understand or don’t have right in front of our face. For example, how many times have you, while driving, texted someone else? I’m sure you have seen the warning signs about the dangers of texting and driving, heard the heartbreaking stories, and even probably just barely avoided a fender bender yourself while doing it. But until someone gets hurt, many cannot be convinced to stop doing it. And of course by then the damage is done. The psalmist understands that living in the understanding of God’s greatness all of the time will prevent him from making mistakes he will regret for the remainder of his life.
Lastly, here’s what God showed me as I was typing this blog: What is the repeating word in these verses? I’ll give you a hint: “Your way”, “Your truth”, “Your name”, “praise You”, “glorify Your name.” Everything the psalmist asks for is in relation to the Lord. He asks for these things from God so that he can give praise and glory back to God. There is unity in his prayer. We live in a fallen world, we will sin and we will get distracted but what does your heart want? Is it unified in a pursuit after God’s heart? If it’s not, will you ask God to give you that unity?