Day 11

I Have Not Forgotten Your Instruction

from the Psalm 119 reading plan


Psalm 119:145-160, Romans 2:12-13, Ecclesiastes 2:24-25

BY Kara Gause

It was the first time I’d ever stood up in front of our church congregation, some fifteen years ago. Alongside our fellow “new members,” my husband and I looked out over the church body we were joining, as our pastor read our favorite Bible verses aloud and introduced us by name. Never one to go first, I listened from the end of the line as one inspirational verse after another was read into the microphone, each one offering another shade of affirmation, encouragement, and faith. But as I listened for the first time to the verses of other new congregants, I felt panic set in: Had I misunderstood the instruction? The sound of my blood pumping in my ears grew louder, nearly drowning out my pastor’s voice completely, until my husband gently squeezed my hand to hear my own “favorite verse” from Scripture:

“There is nothing better for a person than to eat, drink, and enjoy his work.
I have seen that even this is from God’s hand,
because who can eat and who can enjoy life apart from him?” (Ecclesiastes 2:24–25).

Yup.

In all of Scripture, with its sweeping poetry and prose, that was “my verse”—is my verse, I should say. In that moment of pride, I began to doubt my seemingly simple choice. I was afraid that, out of context, it misrepresented my faith and understanding of the gospel and downplayed my affection for God. I’ve since come to realize just how accurately it still reflects my relationship with Him and the sin that so often distracts me from Him: my heart’s unfortunate tendency to wander.

I’m easily distracted, you see. By work. By striving. By perfectionism of the textbook-definition variety. And when I get caught up in working and worrying, spinning myself into a cycle that pushes God away from the center of my heart’s affections—that’s when He reminds me of what’s true. He gently squeezes my heart in such a way that I’m forced to acknowledge the emptiness I’m feeling, the deep ache I work so hard to numb with the distraction of productivity, when I try to live my life with my gaze affixed on anyone or anything “apart from him” (John 15:5).

The Westminster Shorter Catechism posits that “the chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” In my own walk with God, I’ve tended to focus on the first part, on what it might mean to glorify Him. I’ve twisted the idea of bearing His image into a works-based, legalistic, shallow religion that has very little to do with my God.

But to enjoy Him. To be satisfied in Him. To delight in His Word. To stop and savor His provision and the work He’s called me to, not just for what they might become in the future, but for what they are today—well, that sings of enjoying relationship with my very relational God, the one who is ready to answer when we call out to Him, when we seek Him with all our heart (Psalm 119:145). His Word is a very precious gift that instructs us on how to best live this life He’s given us (v.153). And it is clear: in knowing Him, being in His presence, there is abundant joy and eternal pleasure. But apart from Him, we will never be satisfied (Psalm 16:11). This is the instruction my wandering heart so desperately needs.

Post Comments (40)

40 thoughts on "I Have Not Forgotten Your Instruction"

  1. Peggy Pappas says:

    I am amazed how God gives exactly what we need at just the right time. I too smiled at v 148. I am awakened several times during the night these days and am finding more and more believing friends and family struggling with this and realizing God is waking us to pray and for His word to flood our minds especially if we have been meditating on it daily as we do in SRT. Who can enjoy life apart from Him? He tells us apart from Him ww can do nothing. My prayer today: I will not forget your instruction (153). Keep my wandering, distracted heart focused soly on You, my God and Savior!

  2. Ashley White says:

    ❤️

  3. Cyndi Bunton says:

    I love reading these devotions every morning! Some mornings, it is like it was written just for me!

    P.S. There is not a verse 12 in Psalm 16.

  4. Mari V says:

    Wow… I actually read comments before I posted and it seems like we all go through this. Churchmouse, It’s almost as if you took the words right out of my own mind.  Just yesterday I was sharing this with a friend how I had not been able to sleep well. She told me during the sleepless nights it’s time to pray for people. And yes I’ve done that in the past I start to pray for people that come to mind. But this is also a not so good memory for me, (trigger). I remember those sleepless nights all too well when I would be awake in the middle of the night, crying out to God, praying, and sometimes praying for others to keep my mind off my own problems. I had so many sleepless nights back then. So much hurt, and fear and wondering when was this going to end. So when I have them now they remind me of those times. So when they now  I begin to pray to God to help me through and heal from those awful memories.

  5. Cindy says:

    Oh, thank you Kara… your words hit home… “ . I’ve twisted the idea of bearing His image into a works-based, legalistic, shallow religion that has very little to do with my God.” I’m afraid this is me. I spend much time wondering if I could ever deserve Him, even tho my heart knows that’s not how He operates. My head needs to stay out of the way, and I am affirmed in your words…

  6. Tiff says:

    This week has been stressful between work and trying to prepare for a major final certification exam in a month. The stress, maybe amplified by PMS, is coming out in a way that makes me feel a perpetual underlying anger, which sounds like the incredible Hulk lol.

    I feel bogged down by work and studying, not confident about the exam nor my discipline to study for it.
    But it’s all something to bring to God. I’m not alone. I have more than enough faults that would make me fail, but God can change that through His grace and power. I don’t have to do this alone. He’s been there for me since the start of the certification exams nearly 2 years ago, prompted me to go through with them with passages from Joshua 1. And since then, for all previous exams during this journey, He’s reminded me within a few days of the exam with verses from the same passage. He will be with me every step of the way. I just need to be in His presence, in His Word.

    I can doubt myself daily, but I do not doubt God to keep His promises to fulfill His will.
    Lord, give me strength to believe in You. Allow me to turn to You through prayer and reading the word to be confidently rooted in your ways. You will be with me and will deliver me as you have been before. In Jesus’s name, amen.

    Thank you SRT for prompting me to think about our favourite verses today, prompting me to bring my struggles to Him, and for the prayers you pray for us in the community.
    My go-to verse is Psalm 56:13. :)
    See you tomorrow!

  7. Lisa Z says:

    I love this community! Sure not alone when it comes to sleeplessness! I have never been a great sleeper, getting older does not help. Also struggling to solve my problems and those of the world rather than meditating on His presence leaves me frustrated.
    Love the idea yesterday of reading 1 Cor 13 everyday. I am committed to doing this and going to ask a friend to join me. Also going to invite my extended family, prayer group and small church group to join. In this tense time, as always, “what the world needs now is love, sweet love.” I confess the times I have been more a part of the problem than the solution. I have wanted to be right and righteous more than I have wanted to Christ to others. Loved the comment yesterday about the heart melting like butter. I love butter! When warm and soft, it can be poured out and shared. Cold and hard, it is immovable.
    Thank you all for sharing your hearts and wisdom with me. This study, and y’all, keep me pressing on. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  8. Nads says:

    Amen to that. I have a little person who sometimes wakes me in the middle of the night and I always pray won’t, primarily because we ALL need precious sleep but, also because from 3am-5am, the enemy and I magnify my problems, my worries and most of all my self-doubt, blame and regret!! Oh how I would love to join the Psalmist in using this wakefulness to meditate on my incomparable, loving Shepherd. I love you, Lord. Thank you that You are mine and I am YOURS!!

    Ladies, please pray for my little ones as they go through a humungous transition in their lives, and that hubby & I would be unified always and have the wisdom to make it safe & wonderful for the kids.

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