Reflection April 5
Sacrifice and offering you did not desire—
but my ears you have opened
burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not require.
Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.
I desire to do your will, my God;
your law is within my heart.”
I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.
Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord;
may your love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40:6-11
When I was a college student, I received a goodly amount of emails from the Dean’s office about low class attendance records. I acted like it was edgy and cool to be on probation for chapel and convocation attendance. I viewed class, extracurricular events, and homework assignments as chores I could take or leave, depending on my assessment of their importance. My friends and roommates often marveled at how I managed to present almost zero effort and still progress from semester to semester. “Too cool for school, but I ain’t no fool,” I might have replied. I was super lame.
I regret brushing off the resources offered to me at college, but I what I have come to realize is that my academic apathy was a representation of something else. I took what I wanted when I wanted it, and rarely thought of my education as something I was receiving from my teachers and mentors. When it came to projects and writing, I would rather control and present a limited amount of brilliance than a copious amount of mediocrity. Were it not for the grace granted me by professors and friends, I don’t think I’d have graduated. I wasn’t fooling anyone with my pretense of indifference.
Insecurity, a symptom of a life lived without Christ, embarrassed me into isolation.
In Psalm 40, David receives the God’s grace with open hands, joyfully stepping into an existence of trust and community. He says, “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear,” or, “ears you have dug for me” (verse 6). He requires nothing from David but open hands and ears, and even those he provided for him. Nothing David created or accomplished was done of his own strength.
It’s laughable to think about my irrational attitude toward learning in college. Ignorance and lack of ability is what you’re supposed to offer as a student, or else you wouldn’t be a student. This irrational insecurity is something that remains in many areas of my life, including in relationships with others and with God. I’m afraid to show my empty hands to others, but community is about receiving and giving back what you receive. As David writes, “I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation” (verse 10). When I withhold from others what I receive from God, I dismiss his gifts as unworthy and retreat into isolation. I pray that I can give back everything I receive in humility.
“Empty Hands” by Jason Barrows
We withhold empty hands from a God who withholds nothing from us. As the body of Christ, let us trust in his faithfulness, freely giving to others the grace we receive.