You have tried my heart; You have visited me by night. You have tested me-and You will find nothing. I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. With regards to the works of man, by the word of Your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to Your paths; my feet have not slipped. Ps 17:3-5
For I have kept the ways of the Lord and have not wickedly departed from my God. Ps 18
In Psalms 17 and 18, the Psalmist observes two things: God is a God of equipping and He has enabled me to persevere purposely.
I have been focused on two things lately: God’s Sovereignty and my Human Responsibility.
Our God is a God of power and might, full of Grace and Mercy, able to more than adequately sustain me in whatever issue I am in. None is like our God.
That’s the amazing side of things. There is also that piece that says “uh, Yeah! That’s why He is God and I am not.” If I dwell on the fact that He “upholds me with His right hand”, etc., could I lapse into apathy? Good possibility. Add my tendency to coast with my indwelling sin towards resisting God and I come up with adequate reasons to coast. Sinfully coast, but coasting all the same.
That is why this Psalm (and in fact all of the Scriptures) are peppered with functional imperatives; those declarative Noun/Verb pairings like “I will” or “I shall” and statements like that. “I have” is past tense and means the same thing.
So, what? And…? In the scriptures there are examples and statements that plainly indicate Christians are to “endure to the End.” That does not mean “suck it up and grit it out.” It means that I (and we) are to “pursue God all of our days, to the End of Days.” If I ask “does that mean I can lose my salvation if I don’t or I slip?” I am missing the point-by a wide margin.
Our calling is to pursue God: with all of our heart, mind, and soul. All of our being. God wants us to do that too. That is why He gives us His Holy Spirit to empower us to do this simple and oh, so difficult thing. Look how hard the Psalmist says it is: My heart has been tried; woke me up to short sleep; tested me. For my part I have: Purposed to shut my mouth to not transgress; avoided violent ways; held my feet firmly to the Paths; kept the ways of the Lord.
Did you happen to notice this is hard?
And yet, we are to rest in Him. Somehow, in some mysterious way, pursuing hard with strenuous effort after Jesus is parallel to a supernatural rest. Think about that some…
Lord God. How majestic and mysterious are Your Ways. Keep me plugging along after You. Steady plodding reaps results; it is the marathoner not the sprinter that reaps this prize. Help me to persevere to the End. AMEN.