Sing A New Song

This is the latest in my series of blog entries taking a fresh look at a variety of topics over the next year. I’ve set up a page on the blog explaining the project and linking to my entries. This week’s topic is “The Poetry of King David.”

I’ve written about this idea once before:

This — whatever “this” is — is your testimony.

In Christian circles, the word “testimony” is often taken in a very limited context. In Hollywood parlance, it’s your meetcute story with God. “How did you come to know Jesus?” Which, really, means, “How did you reach the point of accepting salvation?” A “proper” testimony begins with lostness and ends with baptism.

And by that meaning, the Bible is full of testimonies; short vignettes of how people came to God. And those, to be sure, have their value.

But the Bible also has, in my opinion, two real testimonies. A love story shouldn’t stop at a wedding; a testimony shouldn’t stop at baptism. To me, the Bible has two stories where people tell about their actual relationship with God. Not just how they met, but what happened afterwards.

One of those is told through the epistles of Paul. We get some of his story, including a third-person account of his meetcute testimony on the road to Damascus in Acts. But in his letters, he talks about his relationship with God after that. And it’s not always cute. But it’s a real love story, warts and all, with disappointments and dedication. It’s honest.

And then, there’s David. As with Paul, someone else tells us David’s story. We get the facts, third-person.

And then we get his psalms.

Possibly the most beautiful love story with God ever written.

I’ve had the question asked about how people in the Old Testament were saved. And I’m pretty unopinionated about the whole thing. Really doesn’t matter to me.

But I do know this — David? He got it.

Save for actually using the name Jesus, how much different would the Psalms have been if David had read the gospel? A thousand years before Christ, David understood the concept of brokenness. He understood grace. He got forgiveness, and redemption, and salvation. He understood reverence; he understood relationship. He got it. All of it. As much as anyone in the Bible save Christ Himself.

And the great thing is, David was transparent about it. Here he was, “a man after God’s own heart.” And 3,000 years later, we know that even for this great man of God, it wasn’t easy. He hurt, he struggled. He strove with God, ardently and passionately. He admitted his own shortcomings; he acknowledged his own brokenness. But he also expressed his frustrations with his maker. He didn’t hold anything back, from God or from us. He lived out loud, fully and completely.

And we today benefit from that. We see that it’s OK. God doesn’t expect your relationship with Him to be perfect. He doesn’t expect that you’ll never get upset. He doesn’t expect you’ll never get hurt. He doesn’t expect that you’ll never get mad at Him or frustrated with Him or impatient with Him or disappointed with Him. You’re human. He knows that. And, you know what? Being human? He kinda invented that.

And David knew one other thing. Without question, without doubt. God loved him. I mean, like, crazy deeply passionately loved him. And he loved God. With everything he had and everything he was. All of that — all the hurts and frustrations and brokenness and regret and disappointments and forgiveness and anger and redemption and grace — all of that was part of their love story. Anyone who’s been in love knows that. Not the meetcute Hollywood love story. But a real relationship love story? Yeah, it’s not perfect. It’s not airbrushed. It’s real. So was David’s love story with God.

And so is everyone else’s. We sometimes feel the need to pretend otherwise. We feel the need to act like our relationship with God is completely smooth. That we’re completely happy in Him. That our testimony is a Hollywood love story. Because, otherwise, who’s going to want that sort of God. Because everyone else tells that sort of story. Because, otherwise, what’s wrong with us?

Here’s what’s wrong with us — we’re human. You’re never going to be completely happy in God. Not because He’s not perfect. He is. But because we’re not. Our ways are not His ways. Our thoughts are not His thoughts. You’ll never be completely happy with what He gives until you can perfectly want what He wants. And as long as you’re on this Earth, you’re not going to. So get over it.

Instead, what you have is a relationship with a God who loves you anyway. Who doesn’t need you to be perfect. Who doesn’t need you to be completely happy. Who doesn’t care if you get mad or disappointed or if you screw up. Who loves you anyway. Who is there for you anyway.

And that love story is lived out every moment of every day of your relationship with Him. During the meetcute salvation parts. During the mountaintop glory of God parts. During the where-the-hell-are-you-God parts. And He’s there, and He loves you, and He’s loyal to you, and He’s dedicated to you every moment of that. And He’s going to bat for you in ways you could never dream of, even when you have no idea where He is.

This is your love story.

This — whatever “this” is — is your testimony.

Enemy Mine

I need a nemesis.

I’m interested in participating in The Jonah Project, in which people with differing viewpoints read The Unlikely Disciple and then discuss it. Through the project, free books are provided to pairs of people who have differing views. It can be on anything — you could be a Republican and a Democrat, a Catholic and a Buddhist, whatever. You just have to write a pitch on why the two of you should be chosen. The project will give away 250 pairs of books.

I’m interested in participating, but I need someone willing to read the book and able to discuss it, with views on whatever different enough from my own that we could pitch why we should get free books. If you’d be interested in being my foil, drop me a line, please.