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Fleeting Spring Ron DeBoer 5/10/2013
“Don’t worry about the wicked
or envy those who do wrong.
For like grass, they soon fade away.
Like spring flowers, they soon wither.
Trust in the Lord and do good.
Then you will live safely in the land and prosper.
Take delight in the Lord,
and he will give you your heart’s desires. (Psalm 37: 1-4, NLT)
Where I live, spring is bursting. The cherry trees are in full blossom, the buds on the maple trees are swollen, and the grass is finally turning lush and green. Pink and yellow and red and green and blue are flowing into the dull brown and iron gray landscape of winter. Every year we marvel at how a world that looked so dead can resuscitate itself into this bright and alive world. Right now is the small window in our year when the rains come and the temperatures are moderate, ushering forth the colors and freshness of nature. We know that in about a month, the sun will rise high in the sky, dry everything out, and turn our neighborhood brown again.
In Psalm 37, David plays around with this imagery of spring, comparing the wicked and sinful to spring flowers and grass. We admire the wicked and kind of wish we were them because they seem to be living the high life and having fun, but David says their sinfulness is fleeting. It will be here today and gone tomorrow.
Maybe you know a thing or two about a fleeting life. Maybe you’ve lost your investments or have been stunned by the illness of someone you love. Maybe your life just didn’t turn out the way you thought it would when you were younger.
I went through a time in my life when I envied wickedness. I thought only about my career climb, the salary I would make, the things I could buy that would make me look rich and powerful. I aligned myself with people who could get me to where I felt I belonged: the top. My church and faith life suffered.
Then I hit a wall. My career stalled. An opportunity slipped away. I became depressed. I began praying to God in earnest. “I can’t do it alone, Lord. I need your help.”
But then God whispered to me in ways I can’t explain. Words to songs spoke directly into my heart; random people would say things that applied directly to my situation. My wife began speaking words of wisdom to me that stopped me in my tracks. My arrogant self finally stopped and listened to her. A spiritual pillar, my wife propped up my frustrated and deflated self and spoke the words from today’s passage in countless ways that helped me see the importance of a life lived spiritually, with God holding firmly on to the steering wheel.
My initial response to my plight was to strike out at those who had “wronged” me. But slowly I began to see that God was working through these “enemies” to send me strong messages about humility, submission, and the need to change. David says, “Trust in the Lord and do good,” and this became the refrain that was repeated to me in countless God whispers.
My focus turned to my church, those who needed my help, and my family. Work remained important but wasn’t a priority that trumped everything. I began reading the Bible regularly and prayed that the words would sink into my heart and bring me understanding.
Like looking at spring flowers, I began to truly delight in the Lord for the first time. My old self might have delighted in the Lord in order to see how he would make me prosper and give me my heart’s materialistic or career-oriented desires. But my new self now delights in the Lord because the Lord is the King of the world to whom everything belongs. He puts me in positions and gives me possessions as tools to further his Kingdom, not mine.
In John 15:1-5, Jesus tells us that we cannot produce anything without him.
Our efforts in this life are fruitless without our Lord and Savior. “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. . . . For apart from me you can do nothing” (NLT).
To end our time today, listen to the words of Chris Rice in his song Come to Jesus.
Ron DeBoer is a writer living near Toronto.
ďIím thrilled with the NLT second edition. . . .The attention to accuracy while being understandable makes the NLT the perfect choice for all churches called to grow people in Christ and reach people far from God.Ē