Today's lectionary reading: Psalm 25:1-10; Psalm 32; Matthew 9:2-13
Passage selected for reflection: Psalm 25:1-10 (NIV)
1 In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.
2 I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. 3 No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. 5 Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. 6 Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. 7 Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.
8 Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. 9 He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. 10 All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.
My mother is incredibly loyal to her GPS app, Waze, and I cannot even read the noun without hearing the voice over. You know the one. “Turn left at the corner.” “Go straight for the next 173 miles.” “Make a U-Turn.”
Psalm 25 has the repeated refrain: the ways of the Lord, rebellious ways, and his ways. What I appreciate about the GPS metaphor for God’s instruction is the combination of freedom, reaction and correction. When a person begins the journey, she often gets to choose from multiple green options to arrive at the destination spot. Ten extra minutes to drive beside the lake? Worth it. Preference for stoplights over freeway stop and go? You do you.
It is theologically easier for me to handle “the bad things in life” and not blame God if there were many ways an event could turn out. However, no matter the outcome, it does not mean God does not care or is not involved. For we all know, how the GPS will reroute if something has gone wrong on our end or even in the world around us. The GPS will give us new ways that avoid the ten car pileup or will adjust for an unintended early turn. As Romans 8:28 reminds us: We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Who would have thought that 2020 would have had so much tragedy, from Covid-19 to the unnecessary and violent deaths of unarmed black men. George Floyd's murder was a tragedy that rallied the nation. George Floyd's death was the impetus that led me to co-found Urban Reformers. I could not have predicted that this non-profit, a “Gospel-centered community of justice fighters” that was full of total strangers would become my Covid-bubble. But God. I strongly do not think God intended to have George Floyd executed, and yet, I do think God is using the tragedy for the redemption of the world.
Psalm 25:8 in The Message: "God is fair and just; He corrects the misdirected, sends them in the right direction." At times we absolutely need a 180 degree correction and even in that, God does so in a loving way. Psalm 25 notes that when we are sinners and rebellious still the Lord remembers us and will instruct us. Have hope, for you will never get so lost the Lord will not be able to find you. God is worthy to put your trust in.
As a response through the form of worship through music listen to the song Way Maker by Nigerian gospel singer-songwriter Sinach.
Creator and Sustainer – we want to be people who respond by celebrating our freedom, who are grateful for your responsiveness to the unexpected and are quick to receive your correction. Show us your ways, Lord, teach us your paths. Guide us in your truths and teach us. Amen.
About the Author
In 2021 Rev. Julie Jane Capel is launching her career as a painter. Her lifetime work: Isaiah 58, the 30 paintings are currently touring. Her exegetical brushstrokes represent scenes of joy, repentance, and revolution derive from her exegetical work. #jjcpaintings
Capel is the Spiritual Formation Coordinator and founding member of Urban Reformers. Prior she had been a lead pastor in Chicago and a hospital trauma chaplain.