Friday, May 28, 2010
A Solid Foundation
Last weekend I went to a conference with 170 other folks. (The photo here is my favorite scene from the conference grounds.) I had met just two of them beforehand, but didn't know either of them well at all. Unlike many of the other conferences I've attended, the purpose of this one was not relationship-building, so I met a lot of people but didn't form lasting bonds with them. It was easy to focus on the training, so I learned quite a bit and it was well worth my time.
On the personal side, I learned a few things, too. According to all the tests I've taken in my life, I'm an abstract-random learner, a Golden Retriever personality, and have strong co-dependent characteristics. All of these traits come together to make me generally very patient with other people. In fact, I can be tolerant to a fault, but I digress.
The conference was populated by folks from all walks of life, and from all parts of the state. Some of them probably have a spiritual outlook similar to my own, but many of them come from very different traditions and perspectives. That's okay, and I like to hear about others' life journeys, but last weekend I ended up feeling quite alone. I needed to know that my God was there, and I needed to be reminded of the depth of relationship I have with Him.
It has become my practice to read a Psalm on Saturday night, to help prepare myself for the Sunday morning worship service. The passage last weekend was Psalm 51, and I felt drawn to a topic that I usually shy away from: my sin and God's judgment.
Be gracious to me, O God, according to Thy lovingkindness;
According to the greatness of Thy compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
And my sin is ever before me.
Against Thee, Thee only, I have sinned,
And done what is evil in Thy sight,
So that Thou art justified when Thou dost speak,
And blameless when Thou dost judge.
It was totally comforting to contemplate the absoluteness of God. He is holy and will not abide by sin. He punishes transgressors. And yet... He has extended His loving compassion and mercy to all who ask. The Father sent the Son as Savior of the world, not to condemn but to claim. What struck me last weekend, in that very beautiful setting, in the midst of some who are working out their own opinions of god, was the solidity of my faith. The foundation of my spiritual journey is the God of the Bible, who has set forth His expectations and has punished sinners according to their due. But the hope and joy of my faith is that this same God condescended to make a way for sinners -- especially me -- to be near to Him now and forever.
I am so very thankful that this is not my opinion, but my belief and the rock on which I stand.