Sunday 9/21/2014 6:37 AM
Psalm 114 was part of my scripture reading this morning. It begins with these words, “When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue, Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.” I thought about God calling me out of a life that was being lived contrary to his way and becoming a place where he dwells, his sanctuary. Because of my mathematical bent, when I first read it I thought it said Israel was his domain, rather than dominion. The domain of a function is the values for which the function is defined so if I am the domain of God it simply means I am a place where he is allowed to be. The idea of dominion is more that of being under the rule of God, which, for me has an entirely different connotation. If I accept the rule of God in my life then I cede the control of my life to him and forfeit it for myself.
Part of my reading included a prayer from the book Doctor Johnson’s Prayers. “Almighty God, in whose hands are all the powers of man; who givest understanding, and takest it away; who, as it seemeth good unto thee, enlightenest the thoughts of the simple, and darkenest the meditations of the wise, be present with me in my studies and enquiries. Grant, O Lord, that I may not lavish away the life which thou hast given me on useless trifles, nor waste it in vain searches after things which thou hast hidden from me. Enable me, by thy Holy Spirit, so to shun sloth and negligence, that every day may discharge part of the task which thou hast allotted me; and so further with thy help that labour which, without thy help, must be ineffectual, that I may obtain, in all my undertakings, such success as will most promote thy glory, and the salvation of my own soul, for the sake of Jesus Christ.”
There were three things in the prayer that caught my attention. The first fits in nicely with the idea of the dominion of God, to which I referred earlier. In the prayer he acknowledges that God has power over man; he gives understanding and takes it away, enlightens and darkens their thoughts. The second was the use of the word lavish as a verb. I have always used the word as an adjective, such as a lavish gift or a lavish lifestyle. The idea of lavishing away my life on useless trifles hits close to home, living in modern western society. Too often I concern myself with my own pleasure or with making my life more comfortable so that I have more leisure time to relax and enjoy life. The third is the part of the prayer that calls for me to avoid sloth and negligence, and perform the tasks God gives me, not to further my own personal success, but to further God’s rule and his glory. The idea of working for God rather than for man is consistent with the message of scripture but it is one that is easily forgotten when bombarded by the contrary message that is heralded by the society in which I live. I need to lavish my life away on the things of God.