Tuesday, June 23, 2009

150 Day Challenge - Days 7-9

Psalm 7 Day 7
You have done this to yourself. What goes around comes around. You made your bed, now lie in it. Those phrases are no doubt familiar to us all. We know that when we mess up, we have to be ready to reap the consequences of our ill-conceived actions.
Being a Christian does not exempt us from doing the wrong thing sometimes. We all have fallen short in our attempt at being righteous (Romans 3:22-24). Even though we have been justified (absolved) of our wrongdoing through Jesus death, that does not mean we no longer have to suffer the consequences of the misstep.
It is just like when our children misbehave. When we catch them being naughty, they may genuinely be sorry for what they did, but we still discipline them. It will help them remember not to do the same thing again the next time if they suffer through a day without their beloved video game than if we had just let it go once they became remorseful. So it is in our lives with God. He still disciplines his children just as we do with our own.
Most likely the discipline comes in the form of natural consequences. For instance if we are rude to people who serve us, the people behind the counter are not likely to go out of their way to accommodate us. The consequence can even be further reaching in that the next time we find ourselves in a position to serve, we may be faced with rude patrons. It is that negative reinforcement that keeps us from being rude the next time we are tempted to be short with someone in service.
This is just a small example of how all of our lives are intertwined. It gives a representation of how what we do affects others and in turn affects us. That is why it behooves us all to live by the Golden Rule. It just makes good sense.

Psalm 8 Day 8
Sometimes I am questioned about my zeal with environmental issues. My husband wonders why we need to pay 3.00 for a dozen eggs from cruelty free grain fed chickens when the conventional ones are less than half that. I am asked why it is important to buy credits in wind energy when the electricity we now use is working well enough.
My answers are simple - I need to be a good guardian of the earth, its plants and animals because God has given me this responsibility. It is my belief that God gave humans authority over the earth because he expected us to be smart enough to take care of it, not so that we could simply do with it whatever we wanted.
Our lives have grown so convenient and every one of those conveniences takes its toll on our environment. Pollution in every area has become staggering. Even in these lean economic times we are still a throw away society. Gone are the days when our grandparents mended a pair of socks so they could be wore again. How many of us would do that? So much easier just to buy a new pair, they are just a couple of dollars a pair after all. If, however, we actually look at the true cost of a pair of socks, from the environmental impact of cotton farming to the sweat shop labor to the over packaging of the final product, we might think twice about simply tossing a pair.
This is what it means to be a good steward of what we were so freely given by our creator - to take care of the land and animals that are in our charge. In order to do this we have to be thoughtful about our purchases and lifestyle. We have to think bigger than just ourselves because what we do impacts more than just ourselves. The world is our oyster, so let's not trample them to death just because we are hungry for more.

Psalm 9 Day 9
This was a difficult Psalm today. When I read these passages, I always try to find something to take away with me - something I can relate to. This Psalm, however seemed to be very personal to David. It was obviously written at a time when his enemies were circling about him like vultures. He spent a great deal of time in this position, so it stands to reason that a number of his Psalms would deal with this situation. It makes it hard for me to read these scriptures and really relate to them because I undoubtedly will never encounter the same type of suffering that befell David. I can learn from it though.
Through all of David's tumultuous life, he relied on God to save him from his enemies. Sometimes David's enemies where from the outside and sometimes from within his own tortured soul, but regardless of its origin, he leaned on God to help him deal with his suffering. It makes me wonder, though, did he deserve to suffer because of his disobedience to God? Was he being punished?
In the world their will always be those who have a lot and those who have little. Does this fact mean that those who have little have somehow brought disfavor onto themselves? In 21st Century America a lot of people feel that this is the case. The poor are scorned as lazy, deep beats and moochers. I have heard it said so many times - Everyone should just be responsible for oneself, get a job and be a contributing member of society, if they are unable to, then they just made bad choices, therefore deserve to languish in their poverty.
This thought process just doesn't square with scripture to me, however. In this passage the poor are mentioned twice (verses 9 and 18). In those verses it says that God listens to them and that they should never lose hope. Giving to the poor is mentioned several times in the New Testament also. Jesus told his followers to give freely to the poor, never expecting repayment (Luke 14:12-14). It is then, he continues, that they will receive blessings.
So, how does giving to the poor tie in with this Psalm where David is seeking refuge from his descending enemies? I think it illustrates that no matter what our problems are, that just like David, we as believers can call on our God for redemptive power. Often we will find the power manifests itself in the form of helping others. When we are at our lowest and we help someone who is really down on their luck, it lifts our spirits and causes us to understand the true power of God resides in all of us, in the form of love and charity.