Psalm 73:1-5 (the message)
No doubt about it! God is good–
good to people, good to the good-hearted.
But I nearly missed it,
missed seeing his goodness.
I was looking the other way,
looking up to the people
At the top,
envying the wicked who have it made,
Who have nothing to worry about,
not a care in the whole world.
Did you realize you could miss seeing the goodness of God? Doesn’t mean He isn’t good, and doesn’t mean He isn’t good to you. But, depending on what or who you are focused on, you might miss seeing it.
These five verses are beautiful. The psalmist completely certain of God’s goodness, but real enough to admit he almost missed it. He was looking the wrong way. He was focused on other people, especially the ones who seemed to have what apparently he did not. Those that seemed to not have a care in the world, yet were wicked. I really, really love this: But I nearly missed it, missed seeing His goodness. I was looking the other way…
Maybe it touches me because I feel like I get it. I nearly missed it, too. I mean, I knew God was “good” in the way that all professing Christians agree that God is Good. But sometimes that can be so conceptual. Being real, I grew worn out and tired with the concepts. Well, that is being sweet about it. I grew sick and tired of dealing with concepts of Christianity yet continuing to struggle with the same issues over and over…going around the same mountain over and over. I knew, however, it wasn’t a God problem. It was a Vanessa problem. I was a Christian, no doubt. But victorious? Free? On fire for God? My life bearing real and lasting fruit from His presence? Not nearly enough. I was freer than I would have been had I not been saved. I was freer than I would have been had I not tasted the magnificent presence of God. But I knew, deep inside, there was a disconnect between what the Bible promises and describes for Jesus followers and what I was really living. I was inside the box. I needed to get out. I needed to see His goodness. I needed to know Him.
Why do we live inside the box like that? Why do we as Christians so often agree with God’s goodness but live inside the box of want, negativity and lack? Why do we agree He makes all things new yet we live inside the box of sameness? Why do we agree that following Jesus should change us and our lives touch others yet we live inside the box of self-consumption? Why do we agree that He forgives and our sins are washed white as snow yet live inside the box of condemnation, guilt and regret? Why do we agree that church attendance and giving our money, energy and time to others is a call for every Christian yet we live inside the box of complacency? Why do we agree that as Christians we should build one another up yet we live inside the box of gossip and malice? Why do we agree that Heaven is our home yet we live inside a box of hell on earth?
Could it be that perhaps we have missed it? Could it be that we have not yet, even in our born-again hearts, come crashing head-long into the goodness of our God? Could it be that instead of a fixation on the Savior, the Lover of our souls, we are absorbed with the people around us. The things around us. The circumstances around us. Are we grasping and groping at people and things and circumstances to do what only God can do for us? Are we so stiff-necked and stubborn that we continue to live in our boxes instead of letting God tear down the walls for us? Are we afraid or have we lulled ourselves into a false comfort that it’s okay to live this way because only the hyper-religious fanatics give God full reign?
Urgent words from my urgent heart. You know, I believe the devil hates for people to let Jesus in. He hates to see people saved. But the next best thing the devil will try to do is have Christians live in the box. Where instead of seeing the wide-open and expansive goodness of God in every area of their lives, they only see what’s right in front of them. And you can bet the devil will always give us plenty to look at that way. But we can live outside the box. We don’t have to live in agreement with these concepts of Christianity. We can live out the concepts. We can kick down the sides of our box and when we do we find they are flimsy cardboard. Oh yes, all this time we thought the walls were made of stone. We thought it was hopeless. But when we let God stir our hearts, open our eyes and finally give the devil the back of our hand, the walls crumble.
Here’s the thing…God is everywhere. He is ever-present. He is Great. He is immense. He is everything. There is nothing in all Creation that didn’t get it start in Him. That doesn’t find its place in Him. His goodness permeates creation. His nearness hovers over us. His interest in every detail of our lives is evident in the very goodness we often miss. His love for us is completely supernatural and all-encompassing. His gentle hand invites, never does He force us or manipulate us. It may sound trite or disrespectful to some to hear me say that I grew sick and tired of what I had. But I smile as I write this morning because I know God was pleased I finally threw my hands up. I wasn’t throwing my hands up at Him! But it was in my hands thrown wide in exasperation that I found those box walls were only cardboard. They couldn’t hold me once I saw the truth. I won’t live inside any given idea or 5 point plan for knowing God. I determined to know Him for myself. And my life will never be the same.
God’s goodness is more than I can contain. I pray it spills out of my life and splashes all over the people around me until they are soaking wet. I am being set free…and like the psalmist, I almost missed it.