If any man, to whom God has granted it, understands what life he ought to live to become eternal in place of mortal, wise in place of stupid, heavenly in place of earthly, first let him keep his discernment pure that he may employ it for living well, and look not on what is but on what shall be.
- Columbanus, Sermon III (Irish, 7th century)
I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living!
- Psalm 27.13
You may be sensing a rising mood of cynicism and some growing despair among Americans of late.
The failure of the deficit-reduction supercommittee has this aura of the failure of America to many people. We've become so self-interested, petty, and ingrown that we are simply unable to set aside our personal agendas in order to discover the common good.
"I would have despaired," one version has the opening of Psalm 27.13. Many Americans are beginning to feel despair, even desperation at our current situation. What's to keep the country from falling into a malaise of despair? We keep looking around, looking around, hoping someone somewhere is going to come up with a solution for what we need right now.
But it's not happening. "I would have despaired unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." The "goodness of the Lord" is an Old Testament catch phrase cuing up the idea of God's original purpose when He made all things - that the creation would refract His beauty, wisdom, wonder, goodness, richness, and virtue in all its aspects (think of all those "good," "good," and "very good" in Genesis 1).
Few today believe that God can bring such renewal, such a return to uprightness to this nation, let alone to the world. That's why they've put their hopes in short-term economic and political fixes. At least these might give us something to dull the pain.
But they aren't, and things are just getting worse. Are you one who is looking around and looking around for material circumstances to improve, and then you'll stop fretting and be happy again?
I hope not. I hope we are looking for the goodness of the Lord to appear in the land of the living - revived men and women eagerly seeking and advancing the Kingdom of God; renewed churches serving their communities with sacrificial joy and evangelistic zeal, and a world-wide awakening to Jesus such as the world has never seen before.
Don't believe it can happen? Then you don't know history, for it has happened before. And you don't know God, for with God, nothing is impossible.
And you obviously aren't praying with the psalmist, "I would have despaired unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living." Columbanus' counsel to his monks is most valuable: Set your mind and heart on what is coming to pass, not on what is. Then live toward that coming goodness and make ready for it with all your strength, every day.
Are you stuck in the morass of our present economic downturn and political stalemate? Or are you living toward the coming goodness of the Lord, praying for it, seeking it, bringing it to light in your every word and deed?
If Jesus comes back today, will He find you languishing or longing?
Today at The Fellowship of Ailbe
ReVision - More on the failure of the supercommittee and the need for revival.
Winter download - Here is some sound advice to improve your Bible reading skills.
Have a blessed Thanksgivng and a glorious Advent season.