ADVERTISING
 
Monday, December 17   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Media
Do the media in your country usually portray evangelical Christians accurately?



SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Peter Mead
 

Journey in the Dark

Morning always comes. We live in darkness, but we live with hope. And our hope is God Himself.

BIBLICAL PREACHING AUTHOR Peter Mead 06 OCTOBER 2016 12:55 h GMT+1
mountain, dark Photo: Nathan Anderson (Unsplash, CC)

God delights to transform lives. 



There are many ways to depict this journey of transformation, but let’s focus on one example from the Old Testament. In Psalms 130 and 131 we have a three-picture portrayal of a life transformed by God’s goodness. In this progression of pictures we can find a helpful perspective as we care for the souls of others, and as we take stock of our own spiritual state too.



These Psalms come in the collection known as the Psalms of Ascent (120-134). These were probably a collection of songs used by the Israelites as they journeyed up to Jerusalem three times each year for the pilgrim feasts. When we think of pilgrimage we tend to think of a difficult journey with a spiritual goal – typically the idea that there is some merit in taking the journey and therefore some benefit. However, the Jewish feasts were actually celebrations of a salvation to which they had contributed nothing. It was not about earning anything, but about celebrating God’s goodness.



When we focus in on Psalms 130 and 131 we can notice a repeated phrase introducing the conclusion in each Psalm, “O Israel, hope in the LORD!”  Intriguingly this phrase is only found here in the whole book of Psalms. This at least opens up the possibility that these two Psalms work together in some way. Then recognition of the progression of imagery underlines the idea that thesecan be read together. So let’s look at these three images and what they show us:



1. Our desperation for the forgiveness God gives. In Psalm 130 the writer begins with the terrifying image of being swallowed up by the sea. He describes the cry of desperation from someone as they sink below the waves of the sea into the darkness of the depths below. This isn’t a literal situation (unless you are Jonah, of course), but it is a description of what it feels like to realize your guilt before God. It is a cry for mercy that reaches upwards.



Most people don’t live constantly aware of the gravity of their situation. Nonetheless, without God’s mercy, all are sinners living in anticipation of horrifying judgment. Sometimes a glimpse will peak through and the fear will grip them before they distract themselves again.  Without God’s mercy things may not feel bad, but the reality is there nevertheless. If God were to watch out for our sins in order to keep track of them, if He marked iniquities, then nobody could stand before Him. But there is great news for the sinner – God forgives.



God forgives sinners, the first step in bringing great peace to the guilty. He forgives fully, finally, freely and forever.  And when the wonder of God’s forgiveness grips us, we live wide-eyed in awe of God’s remarkable kindness toward the undeserving. Fully forgiven, forever, really?



2. Our hope is in God himself.  The second half of Psalm 130, from verse 5 onwards paints a second picture. No longer is it the overwhelming darkness and terror of judgment, but it is the darkness of night that is portrayed. Having been gripped by God’s forgiveness, the next stage in the transformation of the believer is to discover that we are given so much more than an offer of forgiveness (amazing as that would be). God gives us His Word (v5), He is a God who makes promises and keeps them. God gives us Himself (v6). And with God comes not only forgiveness (v4), but also steadfast love (v7) – the committed self-giving love of God that is ever and always loyal to the undeserving. He loves us for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, etc. And with God comes plentiful redemption (v7). This is forgiveness-plus!



As we grow in relationship with God we discover that He forgives, and He gives so much more – ultimately He gives us Himself. So we still live in a dark world, but we are like watchmen who have learned over the years to watch for the light of dawn. Morning always comes. We live in darkness, but we live with hope. And our hope is God Himself.



3. Our growth to find peace in the presence of God now. As the believer matures in the transformation that God’s love brings, we come to the final picture in Psalm 131. The mature believer is not caught up in their own significance, or in their own ability to make sense of everything. Almost strangely the image pictures the believer as a child. How can this be the picture of greatest maturity?



Well this is a weaned child (v2). That is, a child that no longer screams and grabs for the sustenance they need. Rather, it is a child that is at peace in the arms of their mother. We’ve all seen a child who leaves the pile of toys to go and peak in the other room to make sure mother is still there. We’ve seen a child who wants a story read not so much for the thrill of the tale, but for the security of the embrace. A weaned child can be in the dark, but all is well, because the mother is there holding them.



A mature believer grows to not only hope for deliverance in the future, but also to enjoy the peace that is found in God’s presence now. Not self-focused and grasping for things, but content to know that they are safe in God’s embrace.



From the terrifying darkness of despair, to the hope-filled darkness of anticipation, to the contented peace in the midst of darkness – this is the progress of God’s transformation work in our hearts. God gives great peace to the guilty, because God gives Himself to us!



Peter Mead is mentor at Cor Deo and author of several books. This article first appeared at his blog Biblical Preaching.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Journey in the Dark
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation Ruth Valerio: A lifestyle that cares about creation

Are Christians called to make a difference in environmental care? What has creation care to do with "loving our neighbours"? An interview with the Global Advocacy and Influencing Director of Tearfund.

 
Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA Kathy Bryan: Online sex trafficking in the USA

“Prostitution is nobody’s dream,  it’s a very traumatic lifestyle”, says Kathy Bryan, director of the Elevate Academy. She mentors former victims.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities

Christians rallied in Sofia on November 18 to defend their rights. It is the second Sunday of peaceful demonstrations against a new religion draft law that could severely restrict religious freedom and rights of minority faith confessions.

 
Photos: #WalkForFreedom Photos: #WalkForFreedom

Abolitionists marched through 400 cities in 51 countries. Pictures from Valencia (Spain), October 20.

 
Photos: Reaching people with disabilities Photos: Reaching people with disabilities

Seminars, an arts exhibition, discussion and testimonies. The European Disability Network met in Tallinn.

 
Photos: Hope for Europe Photos: Hope for Europe

Unity in Diversity is the theme of the conference. Representatives of Evangelical Alliances and many other church leaders gathered in Tallinn (Estonia).

 
VIDEO Video
 
Bulgarian evangelicals ask politicians to defend “basic freedoms” Bulgarian evangelicals ask politicians to defend “basic freedoms”

Protests and prayers continue in Bulgaria for the sixth week.

 
What are the benefits of the whole family being on mission? What are the benefits of the whole family being on mission?

“We’re not taking energy from my ministry when we care for our family in missional kind of ways”, says President of Josiah Venture Dave Patty.

 
“We need prayers for Bulgaria” “We need prayers for Bulgaria”

An interview with Pastor Vlady Raichinov, Vice President of the Bulgarian Evangelical Alliance.

 
‘Mediterráneo’ ‘Mediterráneo’

“Something will change if you have hunger and thirst for justice”, sings Spanish artist Eva Betoret in a song about the refugee crisis.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.