Wednesday: Psalms 67-68, Ezra 8.1-36; Revelation 4.1-11

From: James Flaherty

The rebellious dwell in a parched land.
 
That’s me! 
 
I fuss about how much money I make. I fixate on the seemingly meager, makeshift nature of my accomplishments. 
 
I commute on packed trains without air conditioning in 90-degree heat, and I don’t like how other people smell. 
 
I make excuses for private and apparently benign strains of sin in my life. 
 
I maintain a lifestyle that’s largely tribal—regulated by affinity, custom, dismissive status quo, and self-interest. And that produces a spiritual state where I often feel like moving dust. Dust with a mouth and a social security number. 
 
My point, you’ll have gathered, is your headspace determines your heart. And you can be casual about that to your peril. But that’s a lot of power. And you ought to know better than assume you can do right with this or any power. 
 
I’d also like to call out your favorite resident demon: selfishness. I’m defining selfishness as consistent, habitual obedience and deference to what you want. A.k.a., the way we all tried to live today. 
 
All I really want to say about selfishness is it’s a lie. It’s a lie that you need a cushion, a surplus, in order to live. A surplus of affirmation, wealth, success, or security. It’s just not true. It’s really a lie that you have ultimate say about what your needs are, period. 
 
God does. The way scripture describes God’s care of his people is reassuring and sobering. The beauty, justice, and force of his provisions for me and for you are without limit:
 
God settles the solitary in a home; 
He leads out the prisoner to prosperity,
but the rebellious dwell in a parched land.
O God, when you went out before your people,
when you marched through the wilderness, 
the earth quaked, the heavens poured down rain, 
before God, the one of Sinai,
before God, the God of Israel,
rain in abundance, O God, you shed abroad;
you restored your inheritance as it languished;
your flock found a dwelling in it;
in your goodness, O God, you provided for the
needy. Psalm 68: 6-10

 
I live in Jamaica Plain with Lucia, Joan, and Ursula.