Wednesday, July 31, 2013
Let the Redeemed of the Lord Tell Their Story
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story— those he redeemed from the hand of the foe, 3 those he gathered from the lands, from east and west, from north and south.
Throughout the centuries the people of God suffered because of their infidelity. They were sent to other nations, into exile, because they failed to worship the one true God. But when God's people again began to seek his face, the situation changed. God simply wanted them to be in a loving relationship with him, and God was jealous for their love. As they began to re-experience God's goodness and love they had to proclaim it day in and day out. The people of God rejoiced and gave thanks to him for who he was.
This Psalm leads us through a great exercise in prayer. First of all, may we take the time to give thanks to the Lord for who he is -- his very nature is good and filled with holy love that is eternal. We serve an infinite God, whose love and goodness reaches out to humanity who is in need of a redeemer. And when humanity has experienced the redemption of their Savior, they must speak up and share their story. He has saved his people from the very hand of the enemy who has dispersed them to the four corners of the earth.
What struck me with this translation of the Psalm is that there is a simple change in the language. As a younger person I used to sing, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." Somehow that's not quite as powerful to me as "Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story." I guess they really do mean the same thing but in the first translation it seems I just would say - "so, I'm redeemed." Instead, this new translation of the phrase makes it much more personal and thought provoking. I'm not just supposed to say "so" -- or "yes" -- I'm supposed to be able to tell my story.
Sadly I meet many people these days who are unable to tell their story. Maybe it's because there are so many who have been raised in church that somehow they haven't sensed or experienced a personal story. They've never really been bad people and they have had the privilege of being raised in an environment in which they have always felt the love of God. There is no story of redemption from the depths of sin. Therefore somehow we feel that we have no story to tell. But could it be that we really do have an incredibly story to share -- for I do believe that all of the redeemed should tell their story! Maybe the story needs to be the one about the blessing of being raised in an environment where there never was a time of wandering off. And the words of thanks and praise for God's goodness and love should be even louder because of the protection from the destructive practices found out in the world. This is a great story and it is one that should be shouted from the rooftops. The world needs to hear that you don't have to suffer because of sin, but that you can live a life in which sin does not destroy your health, your relationships and all that you hold dear. It is possible -- and for this we are grateful. Stand up and be willing to shout your story -- one that can help to draw people to God who has provided us with protection. Yes, we have been redeemed from the hand of the foe for God has fought for us!
But then there are those who have had experiences with the destructive forces of sin in this world. They have been scattered to the north, south, east and west and have lived in need of redemption. As they have turned toward God and he has gathered them back under his loving embrace, they need the chance to tell their story. I have been redeemed! I am loved by God on high.
There used to be a day when we had regular "testimony" time in our services. This served a distinct need in that it allowed for those within a church congregation to "tell their story." In "telling their story" they were also brought into a deeper loving relationship with God, for sometimes it takes expressing that love to help us truly understand our own particular feelings. Sadly, the "testimony" time deteriorated into people talking about all kinds of other things, sharing prayer requests for bunions, or simply recollecting about an experience that happened 20 or 30 years ago. This is not what I'm talking about. The redeemed of Jesus Christ are in a vibrant and healthy relationship with God on a daily basis, experiencing his love and goodness. The result is a daily sense of redemption and gratitude that should exude from our very being, a story which we should be unable to stop from our lips. This is what it means to fall deeply in love with God. May we give thanks to him today and may his story simply flow from our lips.
Lord, thank you for your amazing love! Amen.