Thursday, May 9, 2019

Psalms 18:24-26 -- On Direction and Reflection

"Therefore hath the Lord recompensed me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his eyesight.
With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful; with an upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright;
With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the froward thou wilt shew thyself froward."
Psalms 18:24-26

These verses talk about the overall idea of restoration, but with an interesting twist.  The first verse is fairly straightforward... the Lord rewards us according to our actions.  If we do good, we receive good in return.  That is the same message that we hear generally throughout the scriptures. In the other verses though it seems to be talking about God, and the way that he behaves.

We know from Mormon 9:9 that "God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing," so God isn't actually the one doing the changing here.  So why do the verses make it sound that way... and really, why does it sometimes *feel* that way in our lives, as sometimes God seems very forgiving, and other times he chastises us?

Just like a parent, God doesn't stop loving us or change who he is based on our behavior.  Instead, there are different appropriate responses to our behavior.  I think also, we change the way that we perceive God depending on where we are with our own personal spirituality.  We might go from looking forward to church and having good satisfying prayers and enlightening scripture study at one point in our lives, and at another point, we dread church and try to avoid thinking about God, and the way that God responds to our actions and our petitions in those circumstances is going to seem very different to us, depending on our perspective.

Having our own actions and attitudes reflected back at us so accurately is both cool in one way and super scary in another.  One on side, we can have periods of time in our lives when we're totally in tune with God, and because of that, we're meshing with the whole world and "all things" are working together for good (Romans 8:28), and life almost seems charmed.  When we're in that zone, even when things go wrong, we aren't distressed (2 Corinthians 4:8), because we trust that things will work out.  On the other side though, when we are out of tune with the spirit, even when all of the external indicators say that life is good, it can seem at times like nothing works right and everything is falling apart.  At those times we want to blame God for things, but God's law of restoration instead forces us to realize that it isn't God making our lives fall apart, it is us.  This isn't an easy realization, of course.  When we're in a bad place sometimes we want to give up, figuring we just can't do it... but hopefully instead we will feel some motivation to change.  It doesn't take a lifetime of repentance to get back in tune with the Lord... it just takes a change in direction, wherever we are, to get started moving along the path towards Him.

Today, let's make sure our direction is correct and let's work on doing the things that it takes to be in tune with the Lord.  As we do, we will find another cool way that God's actions reflect our own: "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you" he says in D&C 88:63.  The distance to God is never as far as we think, because he will always meet us halfway. :)

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