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Higher power

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Jeremiah 17:5, 9
This is what the Lord says: "Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. ...

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

Jeremiah doesn't give me much credit. Others who hear from God tell me I'm just a little lower than the angels. But Jeremiah cuts down every one of my intentions, all my words, all my actions. They are all full of holes. Nothing I do or say is sincere.

I absolutely cannot depend on myself. My strength fails, my mind twists reality, my emotions are self-centered. Above all, I fool even myself. All the way inside me I am deceived. And there is nothing I can do about it.

Twelve-step groups begin with step 1: "I now see that I, of myself, am powerless, unable to control or manage my life by myself." Most American men resist this truth till age 35 or so, and many of us never really accept it. It goes against the grain of self-reliance, the work ethic, positive thinking.

Jeremiah is not patient with any of this. He promises me only a solitary desperation, dried out living in a wasted desert, eyeless sockets unable to perceive the beauty and goodness of the life God has given me, even as it parades on by.

Verses 7-8 draw the lovely picture mirrored in Psalm 1: "Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord ... he will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream."

Trust in man, trust in God, trust in man, trust in God ... there's no comparison, no real choice to make. So I will trust in God.

But my heart is deceitful. I do not trust in God when I need to most. With all hope lost, all material wealth drained away, my body crying out for affection ... at that crucial moment all I can do is insist that God fix it. I tell him how to do it. I know what he needs to do. And how can I call that trust? That's a travesty of trust, that what that is.

What does trusting God look like ... when my child rejects me, or my wife loves another man, or I hear the cancer is back and tearing me up inside? What does trusting God look like right now?

That's too important a question for me to answer for you, or you for me. Our hearts are deceitful, after all. I think only God can give us the pictures we need. One thing I see is a snapshot with God's arms around me while I sit on his lap. I'm the little guy with the smile, and the completely innocent belief that everything he says is true. That's a picture I plan to hold on to.

Perfect love - your love, Lord - casts out fear. Where did that fear come from anyway? Not from you, certainly. You have always wanted only the very best for me. And you always will. And you will have what you want, Lord. What you set out to do, you will accomplish.

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