The first afternoon session I attended on Friday afternoon was on the subject of “Clean Hands and a Pure Heart: Keeping it Real” let by Pat Sczebel. It was a very honest, very transparent look at recognizing the gap between what we are trying to do as worship leaders (or even as Christians in every day life) and what we are actually experiencing in our own lives. In quoting Timothy Land and Paul Tripp in their book How People Change, Sczebel said, “The symptoms of the gap [are]: Knowledgeable but impersonal walk with God, a struggle with material things, and a definite lack of personal growth.” The goal is to consider the gap and its remedy found in Psalm 73.
The Psalmist starts out in recognizing the truth that “Truly God is good to Israel” (v.1). We see the goodness of God most clearly seen in Christ. John Piper was quoted as saying: “Saving faith is the cry of the new creation in Christ. And the newness of the new creature is that it has a new taste. What was once distasteful or bland is now craved.” (Piper, Desiring God, p.54) In relating this to the gaps we experience, it is easy to come off a “mountaintop experience” of God’s goodness only to plunge back into the depths of despair or even fall into sin when “normal” life sets in. As Sczebel pointed out, “Yesterday’s encounter or reminder of God’s goodness is insufficient for today.” We can’t rely on the grace given yesterday to guarantee victory or seeing God’s glory today.
This was perhaps one of the best lessons of the afternoon seminars. It reminded me the message John Owen gives in his excellent, excellent book The Mortification of Sin in the Believer. Every day is a battle to be faced on its own. But as we are reminded in God’s word, “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ‘The LORD is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in him.’”
I am trying to keep this lesson in mind for both Sunday and the coming workweek. I’ve just experienced a truly remarkable week in focusing on God and worshiping him. It can be so easy to either assume that this vision of God’s goodness and greatness will continue indefinitely, and then when perhaps it doesn’t, to come crashing back down to “normalcy” and possible fall into sin. I want to not only guard against that, but also to keep my mind focused on God so that while the “high” (if you will) of this past week may fade, the reminder of God’s goodness remains.