Possible this is not the correct title for what I will attempt to write -“Apathy and Scripture” so I may have second thoughts.
Last Sunday 14th November we attended the small group Zoom Bible study and discussion we conduct on the 2nd Sunday of the month. Government restrictions still prevent us from gathering in person since one needs to be fully vaccinated to enter public areas. The number of times I have Qr’d in and shown my Passport is growing and becoming automatic.
Well, this post is not about the anti-vaxxers or the incompletely vaccinated but about some of the effects of the Lockdowns and current restrictions and the way that they affect our Mood and Spirituality.
Last Sunday we were discussing Psalm 16- a Mitkam of David
Miktam corresponds to the Babylonian nakamu, lid, a metal cover for a vessel, but efforts to derive a meaning for the term in the Psalms have not been convincing.
In modern Hebrew, the word has come to mean “epigram”, and numerous collections of Hebrew epigrams have used that word in their titles. In context of the Psalms there is no concensus regarding its meaning there.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miktam
The discussion questions were:
- What have you enjoyed doing since restrictions have eased/ what do you look forward to doing?
- What does it mean for us to trust God with our lives?
I will just answer the second point here since the first is contextual.
Of the second, when we read the Psalm, as we do each time, verse by verse each taking part, we notice the positive ones detailing the Psalmist’s relationship with God
- Keep me safe, my God,
for in you I take refuge.
2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
apart from you, I have no good thing.”
5. Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
you make my lot secure. –
6. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
surely I have a delightful inheritance….echo all other positive and relational verse.
Here is the KJV in full because it makes more sense to me
1.Preserve me, O God: for in thee do I put my trust.
2.O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
3.But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.
4.Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another god: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips.
5.The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot.
6.The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places; yea, I have a goodly heritage.
7.I will bless the LORD, who hath given me counsel: my reins also instruct me in the night seasons.
8.I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
9. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope.
10. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thy Holy One to see corruption.
11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psalm_16#King_James_Version
Before we can answer what it means for us to trust God in our lives we really need to know why the Psalmist trusted God in his life at this particular time. ( the author “most likely wrote the Psalm in the Persian period” (i.e., after 539 BCE). It also tells us that both Peter and Paul associated the Psalm with Jesus Resurrection.
SO – it seems that we addressed our answers to the question to its ‘words’ – the usual response from a Group of this kind. There is nothing wrong with that in the context of last Sunday since we were not examining History or Theology but the Relationship, as expressed in that Psalm, between ourselves and God.
How do I know what God’s will is for my life?
This first question came from the younger members and we spoke of Discernment, Free Will and Predestination, I mentioned that I wished Paul had never used the word ‘Predestination’ since it conjures up the question: What happens if I am not predestined to be ‘saved’?
29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. Romans 8:29-30 New King James Version
And of course – the word Forknew is nearly always overlooked – that God has the foreknowledge to know who will choose to follow him, and who will not, but since God has given us Fee Will he does not force that choice – it is up to us to work it out – in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)- because God is not a puppet Master who jerks our strings towards salvation or damnation. I mean how horrible is it to understand that babes are born damned. Or that there really is no choice?
This question seemed to set the tone for our discussion and the next statement from another was that their relationship with God is one of Apathy. Compounded by the confinement of Covid-19 restrictions, the separation of the congregation that provided support.”O my soul, thou hast said unto the LORD, Thou art my Lord: my goodness extendeth not to thee;
3. But to the saints that are in the earth, and to the excellent, in whom is all my delight.”
For it is the living who provide us with guidance and we cannot say that our goodness comes from God alone but from his faithful ones, the example of experienced elders, who, sadly cannot manage Zoom technology, or do not have computers and are not able to offer their wisdom and stories at this time.
Of Prayer: this has also become difficult since the rhythm of Liturgy is missing and responsive prayer is the norm for our denomination. People are finding it difficult to know where to begin the conversation with God, what is correct and sometimes, or almost always sit in silence. There is liturgy on the 1st Sunday of the month but without an actual Ordained Pastor it is up to us – of Team Church – to organise and Preside and Lead, we miss Holy Communion since none of us is a ‘Presbytery assigned Presider’. The fact that I was Ordained in another denomination doesn’t count.
In summary, people, especially the young or small of Faith – are missing what they no longer have in the way of Christian support and are lost. Apathy has set in with its mate – depression and the wondering whether God is still with us.
10. For thou wilt not leave my soul in (the) hell (of apathy, depression and hopelessness); neither wilt thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.
11. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand, there are pleasures forevermore.
If we allow the Holy Spirit to pray for us or pray for discernment and know that in the ‘Now’ apathy and depression are not sins or signs of abandonment, they are not punishments but part of the I am for now.
For a rather delightful post on “I AM” read Paulf at I am | Just me being curious
And on love: Looking in my small box of fireworks