Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Steadfast and Pure

If you're like me, you might get a little bored of the same Scriptures for Ash Wednesday and Lent, the ones we read year after year, like Psalm 51. Just reading that probably prompted the words to start scrolling through your brain: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion, blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.

(By the way, if you don't read Scripture regularly, you should check it out. It's not nearly as boring as I just said it was...*laughs nervously*)

I feel fairly confident that I could recite the entire psalm from memory. Let me clarify my earlier statement: At first glance, it may seem boring. But the Word of God is living and active (Heb 4:12), which means that, even if I've read the same passage thousands of times in my life, I can still hear something new from the Lord when I read it again.

This morning, I decided to focus on verse 10, right in the middle: Create in me a pure heart, O God,  and renew a steadfast spirit within me. I usually read over this like a rote prayer, not paying much attention to the meaning of it. Today, I pulled out those two words and just did a little study on their definitions. (In case you haven't noticed, I'm an avid logophile, a lover of words.)

First of all, PURE. What exactly does that mean?

Here are the definitions I found on Free from anything of a different, inferior, or contaminating kind; free from extraneous matter, as in pure gold, pure water. Unmodified by an admixture; simple or homogeneous. Free from foreign or inappropriate elements. Clear; free from blemishes. Straightforward, unaffected (of literary style). Abstract or theoretical (as opposed to applied): pure science.
The part of the definition that caught my attention was that it's free from anything inferior. How often do I give inferior things a place in my heart? What kinds of things would be inferior to God's purposes? Well, pretty much everything: my favorite TV shows,  my obsession with YouTube, Buzzfeed, Vine, Pinterest, and Polyvore, trying to make my house look perfect; my inordinate concern for my weight and appearance, my worries about my personal (and often selfish) desires, a crush on that certain celebrity (ahem, that was directed towards my kids because I don't have any celebrity crushes), my fear about the future, my anxiety about how my children will turn out, longing for the day when one of my books will become a bestseller, and on and on and on and on. All of these things are inferior to God's purposes for me; while most of them are not inherently evil, still they're just not as good, and they take up a ridiculous amount of space in my heart and mind. Why fill my heart and my life with a bunch of inferior things when I have access to the best, the purest, the finest in all of creation? And (pay attention, you penny-pinchers), it's absolutely free!

Another definition says that pure means free from foreign or inappropriate elements. Wow. I could go on about that all day long. And that only addresses two of the definitions that I found. I think it will be enough to start with weeding out the inferior things that take up space in my heart.'s definition of STEADFAST is this: Fixed in direction, steadily directed as in a steadfast gaze. Firm in purpose, resolution, faith, attachment; as a person: a steadfast friend. Unwavering, as resolution, faith, adherence. Firmly established, as an institution or state of affairs. Firmly fixed in place or position.

In terms of vision or focus, it means to have my thoughts directed towards God at all times, to let that be the guiding force for my life, not focusing on wealth, fame, or anything else.

But the word that really captured my imagination was unwavering. When I hear the word wavering, I always think of strands of seaweed, being tossed around by the current at the bottom of the ocean, bending whichever way the water flows. It goes in almost every direction except straight up. Unwavering would be solid, straight, not bending to the influences of the world around, like a tree, the analogy that God uses repeatedly in Scripture. A tree stands straight and tall, and the stronger it's trunk, the less is sways in the wind. Sure, the leaves and branches move about, but the tree itself is steadfast, unwavering, solid.

Well, I think that just working on becoming more pure and steadfast during Lent will be enough to keep me occupied for 40 days. Most likely it will be much longer than that, but it's good to start during Lent, the time of repentance and reflection, grace and sacrifice. If you read yesterday's blog post, Do Not Dwell on the Past, you will remember that I'm expecting God to rebuild me from the ground up. 

Purity and steadfastness of heart seem like a good place to start.

1 comment:

  1. We don't observe Lent per-se so i don't really connect any particular scripture with it. Maybe I should ceck it out some more ....