Have you ever had someone ask you to teach them, but then show no interest in listening to anything you have to say? A young man who once spent a summer working for me was doing poorly at his job. After being reprimanded a couple of times, he asked me to teach him how to improve. He spent the whole time we were talking checking text messages on his phone.
A person once asked me to teach them. We talked for about a half hour and I was never able to put more than three words together without being interrupted. When we finished, the person thanked me for taking the time to share my knowledge with them. The request to teach was only a ploy to have me listen to their teaching.
The psalms often feel like this to me. The psalmist makes a request for God to show them how to act. Then proceeds to tell God how they want God to act on their behalf. Psalm 86 is a perfect example. The psalmist asks God to teach him how to walk in truth. Even though he knows God is gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, he really wants God to shame his enemies.
The part of the psalm that resonates with me is a request to have an undivided heart. It speaks to people of faith in the United States on how to live from Black Friday to New Year’s Day. We will shape this time by a faith we desire to live and a culture we love to live in. Simplicity, the true meaning of Christmas, it is better to give than receive will battle the shopping discounts and great deals. Our hearts will be divided. Teach me, O Lord, how to love you with my whole heart and still get a good deal at Best Buy.
We cannot stop shopping. Our economy is dependent upon it. If everyone stopped shopping at Christmas it would have a negative impact on labor and we may even slip into a recession. At the same time, shopping cannot provide the depth of love our souls desire. It’s a reality we live with every day of the year. How can we live with anything other than a divided heart?
We can, however, in the midst of this shopping season be of one heart with God. We can be gracious, merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. It’s the first step towards living with an undivided heart in a divided world.
Click to read: Psalm 86
When was a time you were asked to speak and felt the listener had no interest hearing you? Have you ever prayed this way to God? How can a heart be undivided in daily life? Who is most demanding of grace, mercy, patience and love at this time?