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 REFLECTION on Saturday 6th June

 

This week’s reflections are by Stephen Rand who is a communicator who worked for Tear Fund and Open Doors, travelling widely. He is now responsible for the public communications of the

All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom of Religion or Belief. He and his wife Susan live in Bicester, Oxfordshire, where Stephen is working on missional outreach toe the new-build estates.

 

A life of Praise

 

Reading: Psalm 119: 176 (NIV)

 

I have strayed like lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands

 

 

This psalm has not been written by a spiritual giant, someone who lived a life that we could never aspire to. Rather it’s been written by someone subject to doubt, prone to failure, under pressure – but determined to hang on, to keep going.

 

He finishes this long and complex poem with a prayer that comes from pathos rather than triumph: ‘I have strayed.’ The analogy is a common biblical one, rooted in the everyday life of a shepherd in the Middle East. Isaiah echoes the same thought: ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all’ (Isaiah 53:6). Many Christians see this verse from Isaiah as summarising the gospel: because humanity has strayed from God, God took the initiative and sent Jesus into the world ‘that the world through him might be saved.’ (John 3:17 NKJV).

 

What’s more, in asking ‘seek your servant’, the writer anticipates the words of Jesus: ‘What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that has wandered off.?’ (Matthew 18:12) This not only emphasises the value that each individual has to God, but also hints at the deep truth that when we think we are seeking God, God is seeking us. Jesus said, ‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost ‘. (Luke 19:10)

 

I met someone recently who had been a convinced atheist, but at a time of crisis in their life went and sat down in the quiet of a deserted parish church. At that point they heard God speak to them, saying, ‘I want you’. they had replied ‘well I don’t want you’, but that was how their journey to faith began.

 

Dear God,

thank you for this psalm that has celebrated the value of your word.

Please keep seeking me,

that I may know you more 

and live for you joyfully and effectively. Amen.