Prepare to Listen. In stillness be attentive to Jesus. Pray: You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart. (Psalm 51:6)
Prayerfully Read Psalm 127
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the LORD guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. 2It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved. 3Sons are indeed a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the sons of one’s youth. 5Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
“… in vain, … in vain, … in vain.” The three-fold repetition is intended to remind us that much of what we do, if we’re honest, is ‘in vain’ simply because we do it in our own strength. “Unless the LORD” isn’t a nice phrase we can relax in, although we can and should relax in its truth. It’s a reminder to center our lives in a practice of observing where God is at work and working with and through him to avoid doing things ‘in vain.’ The trouble is, at least for me, is knowing what is and what isn’t of God. How do I know God is building the house or guarding the city? Voices around me, from people who read the same Bible as me, seem to have conflicting ideas. Some believe Trump is God’s answer for America and the world. Others, myself included, believe Trump is the antithesis of what Jesus expects from his Church. How do I know the LORD’s work? How do I avoid building and guarding in vain?
I don’t have any easy answers and neither does the psalmist give any. I will only know the LORD is at work when I spend time in God’s Word, all of it and not just my favorite bits. I will only know when I pause in silence to listen to God’s Voice within through the Spirit within. I will only know when I spend time with a faith community in worship of the Lord. Unless the Lord…, we labor and watch and work in vain.
What do you think it takes to discern what is and what isn’t of the Lord?
Respond to Jesus
Unless you are in all I do today, Lord, I’ll be striving in vain. Give me discerning eyes, a thoughtful mind, an honest heart to know what is and what isn’t of you. May I rest in the work you are doing as you give me eyes to see and a mind to know where you are at work. Amen.
Go live obediently in the world where God is working and invites you to join him.
Because I believe that Scripture is food for our soul (our entire being) I seek to read it and encourage others to read it in ways that nourish and transform our beings. I invite you to read the Bible with me during Lent and into Easter. I am a Bible teacher, spiritual companion and retreat director. I know the Bile and how to read it for spiritual formation.