Psalm 81; 88; 92-93: Given Over

1“But my people did not listen to my voice;
Israel(W) would not submit to me.
12So I(X) gave them over to their(Y) stubborn hearts,
to follow their own(Z) counsels.

When I read today’s Psalm selection, I couldn’t help but think about what it means for God to “give over” people to their stubborn hearts.

When we turn out back on the Lord individually, taking our lives into our own hands without giving Him a second thought…the Lord gives us over to our stubborn hearts.

I know a thing or two about stubborn hearts.  For goodness sake, I’m so stubborn I wouldn’t go to Italy with my family because I didn’t want to fly…was afraid of the unknown, etc.  There was also a time in my life, back in the olden days during college, when the Lord gave me over to my stubborn heart.

I kept on that path for awhile.  I didn’t go to church.  I didn’t seek Him first.  And I ended up with a broken heart that suddenly didn’t want to be so stubborn anymore.

Being “given over” by God is a very scary place to be…especially to those of us who have known God’s goodness and who have believed in Jesus.

Yet that broken heart was exactly the wake-up call I needed to get my priorities back in order.  It took a drastic slap in the face to get me to see clearly.  I wonder sometimes if that kind of discipline is what is going on in our culture today.  So many people are living lives running after their stubborn hearts, trying to fill them up with all the gadgets and play and fun and drink and merriment they can dream up — all to end up feeling empty and drained at the end of the day. Or worse, to end up addicted and depressed.  We are culture that has a multitude of people walking around with Jesus-sized holes in their hearts.

So. What can I do about this?  The first tool I have for the people around me is prayer….specific prayer for those around me who I know, and who I don’t know.  For those people whose names are smeared across the newspaper and internet…that we will, as a nation, turn once again to God.  That we will put our faith in HIM and not in a man or a woman…that we Christians will join hands and begin seeking out the lost.

Jesus did not simply hang out with those who already believed in Him. He went and walked all over the countryside, preaching and loving and healing as He went.

Something about today’s reading, combined with stories in the newspaper today and the book I am reading right now about King Hezekiah put me in the mind to pray for courage to step out of my Christian bubble so that I can be used…and so that I can recognize when my actions are running after my own stubborn heart and when they are running after the Lord.

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