Advent Devotion – December 13, 2010

Scripture – Psalm 40

2010 Advent Devotion for web There is no greater challenge for the life of faith than seeking to be sure when one perceives God’s will. Not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” gets it straight. Secular critics of religion often assume that all those who profess to know God’s will are apt to get it wrong.

The writer of Psalm 40 clearly recognizes the difficulty of perceiving God’s will, yet at the same time recognizes the necessity for doing so. The writer prays for the patience needed to hear God’s response to the cry of the soul and rejoices in the assurance that it can be heard and trusted even if it is associated with an experience of desolation.

Accordingly, sacrifice and offerings (activities controlled and managed by the believer) are not to be trusted. Dare we also say that ideological convictions, which often imply God’s approval of some stance of ours, can also be barriers to hearing God’s word to us?

There may be no greater need in the Christian life than to maintain a certain modesty in what we affirm to be God’s will for us and to maintain an open responsiveness to the realization that God’s word does not always confirm our expectations. But this need not preclude a relationship to God. The key to fidelity is trust, not certainty; openness, not correctness.

Help us to discern your will, O God. May we be responsive to the needs and hopes of those among whom we live and work. Through encounter with them we often learn what is your will for us to do. Amen.

The Rev. Edward LeRoy Long, Jr., Ph.D., James W. Pearsall
Professor Emeritus of Christian Ethics and Theology of Culture, Drew University, resident of Oberlin, Ohio

Order Proclaiming the Good News of God's Peace.

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