Single-minded pursuit

Psalm 119: 9-16

When one of my children was about 10 1/2 months old, she decided it was time to walk. She watched her older siblings running and playing and it was clear that she wanted, more than anything else, to join them. So for a few weeks, she single-mindedly pursued learning to walk. She would get herself into a standing position and launch herself across the room, arms flailing, absolutely no control of her momentum, but she was in motion. Inevitably, she would fall down. Then she’d pick herself back up and do it all over again. Within a couple of weeks, though, she was walking. She soon had the mechanics down pat, and was able to turn her formidable will to talking.

Most of us don’t remember learning to walk or talk, but for a baby, these are essential tasks. When we have walking and talking mastered, the world is ours, the great adventure of life unfolds before us.

Our Christian walk is somewhat like that, and one of the keys to growth is learning to obey God’s laws. This sounds like a grim and tedious task, but to the writer of Psalm 119, it was a joy-filled pursuit. In the earlier verses of Psalm 119, those who keep God’s laws are described as blessed. So this is a goal worth pursuing. In verses 9-10 he says “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments!” I like the way Eugene Peterson renders verse 10 in The Message: “I’m single-minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road-signs you’ve posted.”

But how can we accomplish this? The psalmist gives us the key: “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

For most of us, the idea of memorizing Scripture is nothing short of terrifying. But that’s the only way to store up God’s word in our hearts. We don’t have do it on our own, though. As the next verses tell us, the Lord helps us learn his word and it clearly leads to joy. In verse 14, he says “In the way of your testimonies I delight, as much as in all riches.” He closes this section in verse 16 with more joy: “I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.”

Just as learning to walk requires a single-minded effort for a child, so does learning to walk in the Lord require of us. But as God’s word becomes embedded in our hearts, the great adventure of the Christian life unfolds before us.

~ Eutychus

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