Storied Steps (Psalm 4)
Reflections on Psalm 4
The stories we hear and tell ourselves set the steps we take. Like a pioneer blazing a west-bound trail, narratives can make us pilgrims bound for Zion or prodigals setting out for Inferno. In Romans 10:17, St. Paul reminds us that faith comes by hearing. The trajectory of our storied steps, therefore, moves with the narratives we choose to listen to. If we let God’s great history fall on our ears, our feet will turn toward the narrow path. If, however, we absorb the piper’s silvery lies, our course will crash toward death. To hear the former story fills our lives with bubbling joy, but to adhere to the latter empties our hearts of vitality. And the transition from one to the other comes only at the cost of a life willingly emptied.
The Empty Life
When the honey-tipped illusions of the secular stories cram into our ears, they promise the world. Unfortunately, they fail to deliver the smallest plot of dirt. These narratives vie for our sacrifices; they beg our time, energy, and resources, the giving of which is the very essence of devotion. Laid upon their altar, the sacred fires hungrily burn up our sacrifices. And all that remains to us empty vessels is ash. “How long will you love delusions and seek false gods?” (Psalm 4:2)
The Emptied Life
Jesus himself knew the allure of these vapid stories. When hunger, thirst, and exhaustion sapped Christ’s strength, Satan offered him the idol’s glory. In response, Jesus resounded with heaven’s better narrative. He knew that the full life came only through willing sacrifice. Thus, he clothed himself in the ash of our empty pursuits and paid the penalty for our allegiance to idols. In the counterintuitive beauty of Jesus’ sacrifice, we find hope to about-face in our own stories. The power of Jesus’ emptied life bestows on us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes” (Isaiah 61:3). In the payout of this transaction, we can truly say to the God renewing our storied steps: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Psalm 4:7).
Footsteps—putting feet on our faith
1. What has the story of your life been up to this point?
2. Is it in line with God’s or the world’s?
3. If it’s closer to the world’s, how can Jesus shift your story?
Dear God, you are a storyteller. Your tale is woven with beauty and threaded with joy. The world, a skilled imitator, tries to replicate your tale. It is an fabrication, however, when the end is seen. Let me stand, therefore, square under your narrative. In Christ I pray, amen.