By Jim Newman
Is it possible to find a peace and quiet in a world that is increasingly characterized by anxiety, stress, noise and unrelenting busyness? Everyday can be a new challenge to our serenity (and sanity), that’s for sure! I believe, though, that Psalm 131 provides us with some helpful guidelines to help us get on the path toward experiencing the peace which the Lord offers us.
Here is the psalm (…all three verses!):
“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.”
A peaceful life begins with having a humble heart. In Micah 6:8 we’re told three things that the Lord requires of us: “to do what’s right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God.” You can’t walk with God very well when you have a proud heart and a haughty attitude. Life is not “all about you!” In fact, Jesus taught that to be great in his kingdom you need to be the servant of all. We’re exhorted in Romans 12:3 to “not think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.” Instead, we’re to think with “sober judgment,” that is, to have an accurate opinion of ourselves; not too high, and not too low.
I believe Psalm 131 is also teaching us to simplify our lives a bit and to not worry about trying to solve all the problems of the world, at least not today! Sometimes we may feel the “tyranny of the urgent” when facing the dilemmas and difficulties of the day. That’s when we need to do what my father-in-law, Bob Mixter, used to say, “That’s enough for today.” He knew tomorrow would be a new day to work on finishing the task. We need to just take more time to really see, listen to and enjoy the beauty and wonder of God’s amazing creation all around us. You don’t have to figure out how it all came to be. Why not just stop the car and take in that beautiful sunset, or go for a walk amidst the breathtaking display of the California wildflowers? Go outside and look up at the miraculous grandeur of the stars on a clear night. Stop for a few minutes and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. “Be still and know that He is God!”
That leads to one last observation from our psalm. Learn to trust, and to become more like a little child with its mother. Just picture a young child who has just been fed by its mother. No longer is there crying and fussing; rather, the little one is resting and at peace, satisfied and secure in its mother’s arms, or perhaps just walking along trustingly beside her.
The psalm closes with an admonition, “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord.” In my Bible I’ve written my name in the margin, “O Jim, hope in the Lord!” Why not fill in your name there, too? How we need to walk more humbly with God, to simplify our lives and to trust more in Him!
Jim Newman is pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Exeter. He may be reached by calling 559-592-2367 or by emailing email@example.com.
Prays Together is a rotating column between the pastors of the First Presbyterian Church of Exeter, Church of Christ of Exeter, Nazarene Church of Exeter, Church of God of Exeter, the New Life Assembly of God and Rocky Hill Community Church as well as the Lemon Cove Presbyterian Church.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Foothills Sun-Gazette newspaper.