I really like lists. I have notes saved on my phone of the most important to the most ridiculous lists: films to watch, friends to see, texts to send, songs to listen to. I make a to-do list every day, of the things that I would like to accomplish. I write shopping lists; the only way that I’ve found I can stop myself from hungry-shopping way too much food. I have lists on my phone, on my fridge, next to my bed – ticking off that first task of the day is one of the best feelings. When it comes down to it, I make lists because I like to know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, what is expected of me and what’s next. I like to know that I’m in control of my day, and that everything is ticking along nicely.
And that, I think, is why God turns everything on its’ head every now and then. My neat list gets put to one side, and I have to trust in Him, that He will use my day for His will. When that happens, I get the privilege of helping people through tough times, of praying with people in need, of seeing people inspired and fill of joy, of getting to hear awesome stories, and of achieving things that definitely weren’t on my nice neat lists. I see sessions that I had planned turned around, and God does things are greater than I could have asked or imagined; my plans don’t even compare.
Someone once said that “the best preservation is to commit ourselves to God’s keeping” (Barnes). However much I try, I can’t save myself – I can’t guarantee that nothing bad is ever going to happen. But when I choose to trust in God, I don’t need to go anywhere else, or rely on anyone else for protection – nothing else compares. I can do this with confidence that God has got my back, and I can expect Him to turn up. However much I try to have my own life sorted and planned, it could all fall apart in a moment – but leaning my life on God gives me the strength to make it through things that I wouldn’t have a change of getting through on my own.
David, the writer of the Psalms, wrote this prayer to God:
“Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God: save your servant who trusts in You. Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul” – Psalm 86:2-4
But why does God care – why does He bother helping us?
1 – Because We are Holy
Another translation of that Psalm says “Preserve my life, for I am holy – I am sanctified by your grace and devoted to your service” (Psalm 86:2)
When David called himself holy, he was not saying that he was perfect. We can’t be perfect – we mess up and we make mistakes; by holiness = grace + devotion to God.
David was looking to God for protection because he was a friend of God, and he knew that he was covered by God’s grace. He didn’t have a right to a relationship with God because he was good enough – in fact, he knew that he wasn’t good enough, and that he needed grace. He had devoted his life to God, and so he looked to God for protection when he was in danger. A child will look to a parent for protection because they are a child; we look to the law for protection because they are citizens; and the people of God can look to Him for protection because we are His people.
We do not come to God on our own merit – we come to Him in the knowledge that our own merit is not enough, but that His grace covers us, and that because of this grace He sees us us holy. He is my Father and I am His daughter – I’m walking with Him not because of what I’ve done to earn it, but because of who He is.
2 – Because God is Holy
“God’s way is perfect. All of the Lord’s promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection” Psalm 18:30
We have a big, big God, and He is perfect; and on the cross, God took this perfection and painted it onto us, so that His perfection covers our brokenness. We can’t earn God’s love – there is nothing we can do to get to His level; but His flawlessness covers our flaws.
Somehow, we get to live, completely the person that He has created us to be, completely covered by Him – and that is the person that He cares for so deeply and wholly that He sent His son to die for them.
3 – Because We are Loved
We have a promise from God – that He will hear us when we call, and that He will listen. He is compassionate beyond understanding: He sees our hearts, He sees us when we are hurting and burdened, and He hears us call to Him; He’s seen it all, and there is nothing that we can do to make Him love us any less.
He doesn’t need us to try to be perfect: He wants us to see that we’re not, and to look to Him to exchange our brokenness for His grace. There’s no point in trying to do it by ourselves – we can’t save ourselves – but when we look to Him, He promises that He is our shield and our protector and will give us the strength to carry on.
“You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call you” Psalm 86:5