Saturday, June 18, 2016

two's too many, none's too few

The Word for today:
Psalms 86, 87
mark this: Psalm 86:11
Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Are you single? (No, this is not a matchmaking service or advice for the lovelorn.)
I'm married, but I'm trying to become single! That's because King David, in today's reading; and Jesus, in the New Testament; and decades of Camp Kenan counselors all urgently advise us to get single and stay single...
In Psalm 86:11/NIV, David asks God for "an undivided heart:"
Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth;
give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Which is rendered "a united heart" in the KJV:
Teach me thy way, O LORD; I will walk in thy truth:
unite my heart to fear thy name.
What does the Bible mean by an undivided, united heart? That depends on who you are.
If you're an idolater, it means you've got to decide who your God is.
If you're an adulterer, it means you have to remember your marriage vows.
If you're a hypocrite, it means that what's on your inside and your outside must become the same.
If you're a liar, it means that words and truth have to become one.
I'm an authority on this subject, because at one time or another in my life, I was all of the above. Sin is substance, not hypothesis, to me. So I hope you are listening attentively, because heavy dues were paid to lend these words their weight.
I am constantly struggling against one symptom or another of a divided heart. Presently, I am trying to rid myself of secondary sources of strength.
What I mean is that my parents raised me to be self-reliant. Then I myself raised self-reliance to the level of an art form. Then I raised it to the level of a crusade.
Even now--knowing that apart from God we achieve nothing that lasts--I will instinctively revert, when it's crunch time, to reliance on sources other than Jesus.
I might rely on my own talent for awhile, until that topples. Then I will rely on sheer hustle, until that proves useless. I might rely on three or four things before I remember to rely on God by taking the problem to him in prayer.
I hope to be single-hearted. I hope to learn to look--immediately and only--to God. Jesus put it this way:
The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. (Matthew 6:22)
At Camp Kenan, a summer camp where I grew up, the campers loved "4th Period" because for that hour they were allowed to independently choose from a dozen different activities. But some of the campers, especially the 7-10 year olds, would sign up for two or three things! And some of them would forget to sign up for anything. So we counselors composed a little jingle, which went like this:
Two's too many;
None's too few.
One thing only
Is the thing for you!
Then we'd get those campers to chant it over and over, and 4th period sign-up was a problem no more!
What form does your divided heart take? Maybe you do struggle with--as mentioned above-- idolatry, or adultery, or hypocrisy, or mendacity. Or perhaps you are struggling, like I am now, to become reflexively reliant on God alone. Whatever the case, I hope you'll remember what King David wrote in Psalm 86:
Teach me your way, O LORD; give me an undivided heart.
And remember what Jesus said:
If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
And though our choices aren't as simple as the choices of children, it can't hurt to apply a Camp Kenan chant to the divisions that divide our grown-up hearts. So always remember:
Two's too many;
none's too few.
One thing only
is the thing for you!

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