Monday, September 21, 2009

"God-Impacted Life: Suffering and Reformation"

Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 15:1-18, 23, 30, 18:1-19:4; Mark 15:33-34

We have been learning from the life of David: the shepherd boy who became the King of Israel and the ancestor of Jesus; so that Jesus became known as the Son of David.

I have been calling David’s life a “God-impacted” life because, whether he was living well or living badly, he seemed to always live in the presence of God. A large part of the Book of Psalms was written by David, or inspired by the example that he set of a life lived in the presence of God.

Look at the Psalms for yourselves. When David was inspired, and full of faith and peace, he communicated with God. When David was desperate, or ashamed, or afraid, or grieving, or angry, he still communicated with God. Wherever David was at, with God, made no difference, there was no distance between them; not on God’s part, and not on David’s part.

Because there was no distance between them, David was always capable of completely surprising everyone around him. David was totally free and he lived life to the fullest, because there was no distance between him and God.

We can see this in the story of David bringing the ark to Jerusalem. (2 Samuel 6) The ark was the gilded chest that held the treasures of the journey of Israel from their slavery in Egypt to the freedom of the Promised Land. Those treasures included the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments written on them, among other things.

Bringing the ark to Jerusalem, it was well known that no human hand was allowed to touch the ark. But one of the priests did touch it, and that priest died.

This made David angry. He was furious and afraid, and he would not let the ark be brought the rest of the way to Jerusalem. And then, lo and behold, a few months later, David decided it was OK after all.

So he rounded up a new parade and they brought the ark home to Jerusalem. And on the way home David danced so hard that the short robe he was wearing bounced up and down so wildly that it showed that he wasn’t wearing underwear underneath.

His wife, the queen Michal, who was born of royal blood, was far too dignified for her own good. She was watching from a window while David danced so wildly, and she scorned him for his lack of dignity. But his lack of dignity was really, only his freedom. David was free because he was in love with God; and so he danced just as he lived, with all his might. He was not afraid to say or do anything in his friendship with God. Nothing held him back.

There was no distance from God in David’s life, and so he was “God-impacted”…except for the times in his life when he wasn’t.

David had a golden time in his life, early in his kingship, when he was God-impacted because he was supremely happy. And in his happiness he seems to have gotten bored and (because of this) he seems to have forgotten some things about the God-impacted life.

In his forgetfulness, he looked down from the terrace high upon the roof of his palace and he saw a beautiful woman taking a bath in her own private garden. Her name was Bathsheba, and she was the wife of one of his officers; Uriah the Hittite, who was away fighting for the nation (fighting for David) in a war against their enemies.

In his forgetfulness, David suddenly forgot that there was no distance between him and God. He sent for the woman and got her pregnant. He tried to conceal his involvement in her pregnancy by getting the husband Uriah home on leave.

The plan didn’t work. David got Uriah killed in battle, and then he married Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan confronted David about this, reminding him that there was no distance between him and God.

The sentence that Nathan passed on David, in the name of the Lord, was that David was still loved by God, but that he must live through the consequences of what he had done. Part of those consequences was that “the sword would not depart from his house” (NRSV); which means that “killing and murder would continually plague his family.” (“The Message”; 2 Samuel 12:10)

Around this time, something happened to David. Of course things were always happening to David, but this thing happened inside him. David seemed to become afraid, or paralyzed.

A couple of his sons start doing terrible things. David’s oldest son Amnon, raped his half sister Tamar, and David didn’t do anything about it. He did nothing, and we don’t even read of him saying anything. We read that he got really mad. But he let his anger be a substitute for doing something about this.

Tamar’s whole brother, Amnon’s younger half-brother, Absalom, took his sister in, and plotted against his brother for years. He ended up throwing a party, and inviting Amnon to it, and having his friends kill Amnon in his presence. This was cold blooded brutality.

Once again David did nothing and said nothing. Absalom ran away to a neighboring country. Eventually David let Absalom come back to Jerusalem, but he wouldn’t see him.

Absalom had to plot and scheme again for years to see his father again. When they did come together once again, it is not recorded that any words were said between them.

Absalom began to say that there was no justice to be found by people going to the king, and that he would be a better judge and bring better justice. Well, Absalom certainly saw no justice done by David in their own family, did he? He began to gather people to his side.

Even at this point David did nothing with Absalom, and said nothing to him. And during these long years of violence, and estrangement, and isolation we see nothing in David to indicate any freedom, any sense of the presence of God. There was no “God-impacted” life there.

Then there was war. Thousands of people died as a result. We see violence, atrocities, festering anger, and resentment, and bloody ambition in the sons of David. We see paralysis, and fear, and injustice in David.

Is there any other explanation for the evils in the world? These are God’s punishment of David; evil falling upon David and those who are on David’s side; evil falling on the whole little world of Israel.

There was a plan at work, and it was God’s plan. And God had his way. But God was not in any of the evil. And God did not approve of anything that was done to make all this evil happen. It was the doing of David, and his sons, and their friends and helpers. Everyone in Israel somehow played a part, in it either by taking sides or by staying silent.

Perhaps because David was indeed a man after God’s own heart, his life was like a laboratory in which we can see where sin, and evil, and suffering come from, in this world we live in. They come from us. We are involved, ourselves. It is true that sin, and evil, and suffering, and injustice, and conflict happen out there; but that is only because they happen in here.

I think that David (during his more innocent years) was used to thinking that it all happened “out there”. Because of what he had done with Bathsheba and her husband Uriah, when he realized that the evil happened “in here”, I think this paralyzed him. I think it made him afraid (warrior though he was), and unable to do justice and to love mercy; in his own family, and as his people’s king. (Micah 6:8)
When David and his followers left Jerusalem, to escape from the army of Absalom, they had no place to go except the desert, the wilderness. This concept of the desert, the wilderness, is very important in the Bible. The desert is the place where you find your life simplified, and boiled down to the basics; and you find it possible to reunite with the presence of the living God.

There is a special reason why the desert, or the wilderness, would be the effective place for David to be restored and renewed. The wilderness was the place where David began. It was where he herded sheep, when he was only the eighth son of a poor family and nothing but the spare boy. It was where David spent so many of the years of the prime his life, where so many years seemed to be wasted, when he was on the run from the insanity of King Saul who was trying to kill him.

All the trappings of success fell away. Everything he had worked for, everything that made him feel successful in life, everything that made him think he was smart or in control was gone.

David seemed to lose everything, even though he left the capital with a huge following of the people who were loyal to him. He was just, simply taking them all with him into the wilderness to die, unless God planned otherwise. But David didn’t know what to think about that.

All David knew was that he was right back where he started from, or worse, running away in the desert from those who were trying to destroy him. When you seem to find yourself back where you started from, as if you had never accomplished a single thing of lasting value; when you know that this is your fault, it is a very humbling thing. Some people call it “hitting bottom”.

A man named Shimei saw David walking away from Jerusalem. Shimei had heard the news of what had gone wrong, and he started taunting and cursing the king, and even throwing rocks at him (an insane thing to do).

One of David’s officers offered to take off Shimei’s head, if it would please the king. But the king would not let him. David said, “My own son seeks my life. Let him alone, and let him curse; for the Lord has bidden him.” (2 Samuel 16:11)

When you go for years, as David did, in a kind of spiritual, emotional paralysis; when you let things pass, and let things pass, and do nothing, and do nothing, and say nothing, and say nothing; it becomes a sort of strange, involuntary pride. You become unable to say and do what you know is absolutely and desperately required of you.

But if you are given the grace of finding yourself all the way back to where you started from, as if you had accomplished absolutely nothing; if you are given the grace of hitting bottom, then you can face all kinds of things.

You can break the paralysis. You can say and do what you should have said and done long ago.

David began to be able to think about what the Lord might think about him. He remembered that he had had a relationship with God as his greatest friend. He had no idea what God would do with him now. He had no certainty that the Lord was for him, or if the Lord would give him another chance. But David was able to break the paralysis that had frozen his communication with God, the fear that had frozen the God-impacted life he had once enjoyed.

David began to understand what he had done to his children and he wanted to make up for it all to Absalom. David spoke these instructions in the hearing of the whole army, “Deal gently, for my sake, with the young man Absalom.” (2 Samuel 18:5)
Everything and everyone was against that plan of gentleness, but David was coming to life again. David was coming back to the God-impacted life.

Absalom died. He was brutally killed; and David wept and wailed words of agony, and compassion, and suffering; words not very different from the words that many sorrowing parents have also wept. But his words are not very different from another set of words of sorrow that Jesus spoke on the cross.

Jesus is God among us, God in the flesh. And on the cross the Lord has carried all the history of conflict, all the festering anger, and all the paralysis that isolates us and seems so much like pride. He has carried the long and complicated history of the sins, and evils, and losses of the world.

He carries on the cross the complicated histories of the patterns and actions that separate us from the people who should be closest and dearest to us. He carried the pain of the deepest cuts in the ties that bind. He felt them on the cross and cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)

Jesus has given his life for us in order to give us this gift of knowing that he has carried this grief and pain on the cross, so that the new life he gives to us can give us freedom. His carrying of the world’s sins and evils can have the power of breaking our fear, our paralysis, and our pride, that breaks down our relationships with others.

In Christ, crucified for us, we hit our own bottom, and we have nothing to keep us from beginning a new life, born in the wilderness, born in the desert. Then we can live like David, like people after God’s own heart. We can become spiritually and emotionally alive to the people around us, and to the people who should be closest to us. Jesus makes this possible.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

"God-Impacted Life: Sin & Repentance"

Based on Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 11:1 through12:25; and John 8:2-11

There was a famous classical guitarist named Andre Segovia. Once, after a concert, he was asked why he played one particular piece so fast. His answer was: “Because I can.”

There was a lot to like about David the underdog; in the years before he became king. He was almost innocent. He was loyal and compassionate. He gave people chances even when he knew that they had failed him before. He didn’t use people. He lived his faith.

There was a lot to dislike about David the over-dog, David the king; especially in this case of the beautiful Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. We see how he could do anything to get what he wanted. He manipulated others and told lies. He saw the honesty and integrity of others as an obstacle to getting what he wanted and needed. The most basic human bonds meant nothing to him. The lives of those who served him were dispensable.

Where did this new David come from? The new David was there all along; only waiting for an opportunity to come out, and play, and show itself. If you could have asked this new David, “Why are you doing these things?” the new David could have said, “Because I can. I am the King.” And this would be the truth.

But there was a greater, deeper truth; and David was able to get in touch with this truth. David saw the truth and he said, “I have sinned against God. I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:13)

David was able to see this truth because, as far off the path as he had gotten, as self-blinded as he had made himself, David still possessed a God-impacted life. He was not living his faith, but his faith had not died.

David was lucky that his faith had not died. No, David was not lucky at all. He was blessed. He was held by the hand of God at the very brink.

I had a friend in seminary, named Paul, who, when he was about ten years old was playing ball with friends in his yard, and the ball went out into the street, and he went after it, and a car zipped by, and Paul froze in fear, and the car came right by him, so close that it ran over his feet: just his feet. It is almost as if God held him on the brink, protecting him from an evil that could have been so much worse.

His feet were broken; but otherwise he was unhurt. And his feet did heal, but the accident had an odd result. The car, crushing Paul’s feet, did something to the sweat glands in his feet, so that his feet stank horribly from then on. In the dormitory at seminary, people did not go into Paul’s room because it stank so badly, because he did not always wear his shoes in his room. He didn’t sleep in his shoes. But as long as his feet were inside his shoes, he was OK.

Like my seminary friend, David went right to the dangerous and stinky brink of an evil that could have been so much worse. Instead of running into the path of a car, David ran another path. First he surrounded himself with people who would let him do what ever he wanted. And they would even help him do whatever he wanted.

Then he used them to get him a woman he wanted, even though he knew she was married to someone who was loyal to him. Then he did what he wanted with her.

Then he pretended to be Uriah’s friend to cover up what he had done, and tried to get Uriah to compromise his sense of duty, to cover up what David had done. David tried to make Uriah a disloyal man.

Then he had Uriah killed because he would not be disloyal. David used others to kill Uriah for him. He got blood on other people’s hands.

Then Nathan the prophet confronted David with the truth, and David could have had Nathan killed for this. David had already killed to keep this secret. He could kill again.

But he was held back and, like a hiker walking through fog in unknown territory, finds the fog break just in time to keep him from walking off a cliff; David sees the cliff, and stops short, and says: “I have sinned against the Lord.” Perhaps this is one way in which David demonstrates why God considered him “a man after his own heart.” (1 Samuel 13:14)

The difference between the old David, whom we like, and the new David, whom we often don’t like, is not that the old David was not a king, and the new David was the king. The difference rested in the ability to say, “I will do this thing because I can.”

David was only a good king when he did not play king. When the people of Israel begged the prophet Samuel to give them a king, Samuel warned them of the dangers. They wanted a king because they thought a king would give them the status and power that other nations had, but Samuel told them that kings were prone to be takers and not givers. (1 Samuel 8:1-18) David was a good king when he was a giver, when he was a servant; but never when he was playing king.

We are all this way. In the Garden of Eden, Eve and Adam were tempted to eat the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and part of that temptation was the temptation to be like God, who knows everything. If they knew everything, then they could be in charge of their lives. They would not need God any longer; or so they thought. (Genesis 3:4-6)

Playing king or playing God: it’s all the same. We do this thing because we can. We can lie. We can misrepresent the truth. We can make ourselves seem, to others, to be something other than what we really are. We can deceive ourselves and pretend that we aren’t the person others see that we are. We can use other people for our pleasure, or our profit, or our influence and power.

This doesn’t mean that we will succeed, at least not for long, or not forever. But we can avoid thinking about that yet, too: as long as we are having fun, or having our own way, or looking out for ourselves.

In the God-impacted life you live in the presence of God. You cannot escape. You will be caught and exposed. And this is the first step in the best thing that can ever happen to you.

When you can’t play king, or play God, anymore, then God becomes the king again, and that is a great relief. Other people stop being things to use or things to protect yourself from. They become creations of God. They become human souls of real value. And that is a sight worth seeing. And, then, you see yourself.

In a sense, David didn’t really know himself until he saw the so-called “new David”. He would always have thought of himself as the noble and innocent victim of others.
And he was, in so many ways. But to see what was in his heart by the process of seeing what he was capable of doing when he could do anything he wanted, was also a sight worth seeing. Once David saw that sight of his true self it would be hard for him to deceive himself ever again.

There are things we can never know about God until we can say with all our heart: “I have sinned against the Lord.” We can never really know how much he loves us. We can never really know what love and mercy mean.

When religious people do not truly know themselves well enough so that they can say, from their heart of hearts, “I have sinned against the Lord,” they become the self-righteous. They become the Pharisee, the hypocrite. They become the people who like catching someone else in their sin, and exposing and shaming them, just as the teachers of the law and the Pharisees did, when they brought the sinful woman to Jesus, and wanted him to condemn her.

By saying, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” (John 8:7) Jesus gave them a true vision of their own hearts. They snuck off, one by one, and not one of them stopped to thank Jesus for the gift he had given them: the gift of seeing themselves.

In both of these stories, we can see what sin is like, what sin does to others, what sin does to the heart of the person who cherishes sin in their heart as a means to get what they want.

We see the ugliness of it. It led David to kill an innocent man. In the gospels it led the teachers of God’s law to seek, first, to kill a guilty woman in order to shame Jesus and, when that failed, they would go on to kill Jesus for exposing their own self-righteousness. We can see that sin stinks.

We also see grace. We see what grace is, and what it is not.

We can see that the grace of God is the love, within God, that causes him to restore people to fellowship with him. God, in his grace, makes himself known to people who do not know him; and to people who mistakenly think they do know him; and to people who do know him but fail to be true to what they know.

The woman caught in the act of adultery knew that, although she was guilty, she was not condemned by Jesus, and Jesus told her that, as a result of his acceptance of her, she could live a new life, a new way of life. She knew that her life would always be lived under two marks: one, that she would always be known for her sin; two, that she would always be known as one who was forgiven and loved by Jesus.

It is important to realize that she would live with the consequences of what she had done. But she could and would be a different person, a new person, even so.

Because of Jesus, she would always be a child of God. His saving her life that day made her a child of God. But, even more than that, his dying soon a few days later, on the cross, partly as a result of the love he had shown for her that day also made her, truly and completely, even more, a child of God.

With David and Bathsheba, too, there were consequences that could not be escaped. Nathan said, “The sword will never depart from your house.” (2 Samuel 12:10) This meant that the whole future history of David’s family would be marked by violence and conflict.

The story of the house of David, the descendants of David, is a sad story. That is the rest of the history of Israel, in the Old Testament. But we will talk more about that next Sunday.

The son of David and Bathsheba died and then they had another son, whom they named Solomon. Solomon was the son who would fulfill the beginning of the promises that God made to David. Solomon would build the Temple that David had wanted to build.
And the Bible tells us that the Lord had a special love for this Solomon, this son of David and Bathsheba. The prophet Nathan sent them a message telling them to call Solomon by the name Jedidiah, which means “Loved by the Lord.” (2 Samuel 12:25) But not even Solomon could take away the punishment of the sword that would not leave their family in peace.

The birth of that Solomon, out of that awful, awful chain of events (plotting, adultery, lying, and murder) was a sign that David himself was still loved love by God with a love that would never end.

Grace never means getting away with things. There will be, there must be, consequences. But grace is the infinite love of God that will not stop loving you in the middle of all those consequences. That love will give you a new life every day.

Solomon was the next link in a story of grace that is still going on to this day, but the center of the story is Jesus, who is the love of God in the flesh. Jesus is the son of David, after many generations, who dies on the cross in order to say to you, “Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11) In other words: live a new life, live a new way of life, because of the fact that my love has set you free.

The Lord’s Supper is a place where we meet the Lord who knows us, invites us just as we are, and dies for us to give us a new life where we live a new way. The life, and the death, and the resurrection of Jesus are like food for us.

Ordinary food we eat, and we change it into ourselves: blood, tissues, organs, bones. When we receive the nourishment that Jesus gives, as it is promised to us here, he enters and changes us into himself, and we become like him. Here, he makes us his children who live a God-impacted life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

"God-Impacted Life: Golden Hours, Golden Promises"

Scripture Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-29; Matthew 16:13-20

Once there was a golden hour of a golden day, and David the king felt good. He felt really good; and happy and thankful. It was such a golden hour of a golden day that he was simply, physically incapable of unhappiness. And in his happiness he wanted only one thing: he wanted to do something for God. What an hour, what a day!

We read it like this: ‘After the king was settled in his palace, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a palace of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.” Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”’ (2 Samuel 7:1-3)

The funny thing about understanding this particular story of David’s life is that some scholars think that this story is out of sequence. They think that it must have happened later, because David didn’t really have rest from all his enemies, yet.

There were still more enemies to face, and still more battles to fight. This story should come later, they say, because it was too soon for David to be so happy.

But I think that the scholars who say it was too soon for David to be happy and at rest don’t real understand how life works, or how God works in our life. Besides, if you read the Bible’s story of David’s life (unless it is leaving out something important), there was never a time in David’s life when he was at rest for long.

David never had an easy life. When David was a kid, he was the eighth son in a poor family. He was the spare boy, the one who stayed out with the sheep when the older brothers were at home being important.

As a young man he was called to serve King Saul, and play the harp and sing for him, because Saul was troubled by an evil spirit. Darkness would fall upon Saul’s mind. He would become obsessed by fears, and suspicions, and murderous rages. Saul was a danger to others. David was called to relieve Saul’s madness. It was not a pleasant thing to do, living a life centered upon another person’s insanity.

More than once, Saul tried to kill David. David became a fugitive, and the leader of a band of men who earned their living by protecting the settlers on the frontier, where the law and order of the kingdom was weak. David was a fugitive, with a price on his head, for years and years.

Then Saul was killed in battle. The tribe of Judah anointed David as its king. The other tribes anointed one of Saul’s surviving sons (Ishbosheth) to be their king, and the tribes fought over the kingship. The other little nations surrounding Israel used this conflict as an opportunity to raid and occupy parts of the land of Israel.
David’s rival for the kingship was betrayed and killed by his own people. And David became the king of a kingdom that had been the whipping boy of every other tribe and nation around them for centuries.

David fought some battles, and he was winning. He conquered the city of Jerusalem, and fortified it. He pulled his people together. He gave them more and more security, and they began to prosper. He built a house of cedar, for his palace; which meant that it had big cedar beams and pillars that could make big rooms, and big doors, and big windows where the evening breezes could blow; and wide porches to keep the rooms cool during the day.

All this was so good. It was so different from the way the rest of David’s life had been. And, yet, David’s job was (at best) only half done, and it was never really done. There were always battles, and rebellions. A couple of his own children would try to take control of the country away from him. He would have to fight and plot desperately, for his own survival, and the survival of his supporters, against his own family till the end of his life.

We have to remember the kind of life that David lived, as a whole, in order to understand the secret of David’s happiness during the golden hours of his golden days. The truth is that, if David had been a different kind of person, or, if David had had a different way of relating to God, he would never have noticed his golden hours and his golden days.

There were probably not many of those hours and days of his life, when David had nothing to worry about, when he had nothing to be unhappy about. And that’s just the truth.

But there is also another truth. David lived a God-impacted life. David lived his whole life in the presence of God. He sometimes lived in the presence of God very poorly, in ways that even he was ashamed of. But he often lived well, in the presence of God, and he enjoyed living in that presence.

The presence of God gave David rest. There were many narrow escapes from death. There were friends who stuck up for him, and stuck with him, at great risk to their own safety, because David’s own life was dangerous. That was how things were.

But the presence of God brought him many experiences of the gifts and the faithfulness of God. This knowledge of the presence of God gave David many golden hours and golden days.

Thinking about the happiness that David found in his new house makes me think about other houses that I have known.

When I was a child, my parents’ golden dream was to escape from southern California, where we lived, and move to a small town and build a house out in the country. We kids were infected with our parents’ dream. I know I was.

It was a good dream; a good plan. The way that it unfolded brought good things to my own life.

The big move happened when I was twelve. That was the first part of the unfolding plan. The other part was the house that my parents would design for themselves; the house that would be a home for all of us to grow up in. But we didn’t build that house and move into it until about six months before I went away to college. So, for my life, that part of the plan didn’t turn out as we had planned.

The completion of the golden dream did not serve its intended purpose, at least not in my life. In a sense, the day we moved into that house was the equivalent of the day when David was happy, and the Lord gave him rest from all his enemies. Only, for me, it didn’t last for long.

The good thing was that God gave to us, and to me, other golden hours and days along the way.

God seldom gives us a lot of time to rest. Even when we achieve a great dream, things change really fast. This is the way that time and the world work.

There were other golden hours and days in the years before the dream was achieved, and there were others after.

There were the years in the old farmhouse on the north end of town, where I could put a marble outside my bedroom door and it would roll clear across the floor of the living room, all the way to the front door. Or I could put the marble on the inside of my bedroom door and it would roll all the way across my room to the opposite side of the house. What kind of house was that? That old place was not our dream house.

That was a house we dreamed of escaping from. But, it had a big yard surrounded by orchards; and my sisters and I would play target practice with our BB gun. Or I would pick a ripe peach from the tree in our yard and play fetch with our dog; who would eat it after she had caught it a few times, and tenderized it with her teeth. Or we would play badminton with our parents on summer evenings when it was almost too dark to see, when the hot Sacramento valley summer days would finally cool off just a little. Those were golden hours of golden days, even though those days were not the objects of our dreams and plans.

In a way, our dreams and plans (that took so long to fulfill) were just our fumbling way of reaching out for something we wanted but didn’t understand very well. Whereas God’s plan for our happiness and rest consisted of other things: how we played, how we were as a family, at those times in our lives when we were good at being a family. I think one of the mysteries of happiness is that we don’t always realize how happy we are.

There are stories in the life of David that tell us the happiness of simply being supremely happy. And, when we look at the whole of his life, we see that these golden hours are a gift of God, they are rest and renewal that come from God and not from ourselves; from God’s plan and not from our own plan.

David’s happiness made him think about God. It pointed him beyond the world of all the worries and struggles that could have darkened his life. Sometimes it seems as though it is only our experiences of unhappiness and discontent that point us beyond our world, beyond ourselves, to God.

But David lived a truly God-impacted life, so that it was not only his unhappiness and discontent that pointed him to God. By the grace of God he had the gift of recognizing when he was happy, and so his golden hours also pointed him to God.

I love this story of David’s happiness so well. In the context of his life as a whole, it should teach us to look at ourselves, for evidence that we are actually happy: that God is giving us rest and happiness, but (perhaps) without the benefit of knowing it and enjoying it for ourselves.
And that is all I have time to say.

I would say that Jesus is the golden promise that guarantees the purpose of our golden hours. He guarantees that they have a lasting purpose. I would say that Jesus guarantees and preserves the lasting value of all our golden times, by sharing his life with us. He shares his life with us, and makes himself a part of us through his simply living a humble, human life, and through his dying on the cross, and through his resurrection.

Jesus shows us, through the way he has faced the joys and struggles of human life, the faithfulness of God, the trustworthiness of God, through all our times of waiting, and all our times of postponement and impatience. Jesus is the faithfulness of God, to give meaning and weight to all our dreams and to the hours of our happiness.