things too great and too marvelous for me

Today is Martin Luther King Day. I don’t claim to know Dr. King’s life well or be a civil rights historian. But what I do know is that Dr. King is one of the great Christians of the American tradition. He was also a man who was caught up in great things. I thought this little meditation would be appropriate. 

Sunday we talked about the Sandals of peace. Or the sandals that are “the readiness given by the good news of peace.” Eric introduced the sort of peace the verse is talking about with Psalm 131: 

O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;

my eyes are not raised too high;

I do not occupy myself with things

too great and too marvelous for me.

But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

like a weaned child with its mother;

like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, hope in the LORD

from this time forth and forevermore.

According to the psalmist, an essential part of peace is humility. The satisfaction of the weaned child is only possible if we are not grasping at things beyond us. There’s a simple and important lesson there. Peace requires humbling ourselves to God and regarding him as sufficient in the face of things that are beyond our control. 

It sounds simple, but really this is very difficult. Not in the least because of the internet, cable, and The News. Twitter’s whole business model is to get you swept up in things too great and marvelous for you and to make you think it is your business. I confess that I raise my eyes too high, and it ends up raising my blood pressure. There is so much in the world to worry about. All of it screams for our attention, and it is comforting, for a moment, to give in to pride and think we can do anything about such marvelous things. To think myself wise enough to fix problems that are generations old.

In peace, we lower our eyes, to the things around us. To the people God has put right in front of us. And in peace, in the hope of the Gospel, we are made ready. We can’t fix all the problems of the Twitterverse or The News, but there are plenty of things right in front of us to do. Hope in the gospel, and knowledge of the all-sufficiency of God gives us the courage to act.

Let’s keep healing the city, one person at a time. 

1 Comment

  1. Jessica

    “To the people that God put in front of us”
    Thanks for sharing, Matt. I, too, have been reflecting on this. I initially want to turn away from this passage and argue that these things too marvelous are worth considering. However, I think that if we focus solely on the grander ideas and issues, that we miss out on the ways that we can support our neighbor. As we argue the ethics of handouts vs. financial responsiblity for instance, there are people hungry, jobless, sick, lonely. Are we to tell them, “Wait until we, someone, can figure out the answer and get everything right?” So, I appreciate your words because they point towards action and peace. I stand with hope in the Lord AND I am going to use the gifts he has given me, in the space I am in, to act.

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