My appeal to God to protect me from this virus thingy has been embarrassing: I don’t want to die because of the mess my wife will be left with in my study room and clothes closet. And I didn’t update my Will and finalize my funeral arrangements before the virus hit either. Things I should have done long ago.
I felt the need to up my appeal to God, then, to a higher level by saying, “What good can I do as a Christian if I’m dead?” I hoped that might carry a bit more weight with God, and give him a deeper and more logical reason to keep me alive. But is that just playing games with God, which again is embarrassing, because I know he can see right through me.
On the other hand, I read in Psalms how others reasoned with God this way. David, for instance, in Psalm 51, appealed to God to not “throw me out with the trash,” and to “Commute (or alter) my death sentence,” by offering God reasons for keeping him alive – so that he, David, could “teach rebels your ways,” help “the lost to find their way home,” and “sing anthems to your life-giving ways” (all quoted from the Message translation).
And David wasn’t playing games with God to bend God’s will either, because he knew God knew him “inside out.” David openly admitted in Psalm 51 to “the chaos of my life.” He knew God had “all the facts” of his embarrassing life laid out before him, and he confessed openly to being “out of step with you for a long time.”
In all honesty, then, David knew he didn’t deserve to live, or deserve God’s protection. And I had to admit the same thing. Why should God protect me from this virus thingy when there was nothing in my life, past or present, that deserved his protection? And my reasons for God keeping me alive sounded pathetic.
But David then takes an even more embarrassing step in Psalm 51. He faces head on the ghastly reality that “Going through the motions doesn’t please you.” It doesn’t? But most of my Christian life has been going through the motions. I’ve done what Christians do, pray, study, go to church, try to be a good husband and Dad, help out in the community where I can, and be a law-abiding citizen. Not perfectly, of course, but not too bad either.
But now I find out from David that none of these things cut any ice with God either as reasons for keeping me alive.
And if that isn’t bad enough, it gets worse, because David goes on to say, “a flawless performance is nothing to you.” Well, that does it: I’ve got nothing left to reason with God with, then, do i? I could be totally blameless in all my behaviour, and stand up in the court of God with a perfect record, and all I’d get in return is, “A fine performance, dear chap, but it’s not what we’re looking for in you.”
It isn’t? So what is?
According to the Message translation what counts with God is what David says next: “I learned God-worship,” David writes, “when my pride was shattered.” So what really pleases God is a human being who simply admits he has nothing to offer. It knocks to pieces, then, the whole idea of trying to reason with God for protection from this virus thingy based on anything I come up with. It’s OK trying to reason with God, because David and other writers of Psalms did it, but bottom line is: God just loves a human who says to him – as David says in Psalm 51 – “whatever you decide about me is fair.“ In other words, I simply trust God that he knows best what to do with me and leave it at that.
Or as David goes on say in Psalm 51, “Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” I simply accept I’m a worried mess with this virus thingy and I’m utterly dependent on God’s love and nothing else. He loves me. He’ll do what is best.