Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 NLT
In the canine world there are no equals. Everyone has their place. It’s called pack order. This behavior begins early in a puppy’s life. Lower ranking pups give way to those higher in the pack. And if they don’t they are given a lip curl, a look, or a snarl as a warning. If the offending dog doesn’t heed, then the level of correction is increased possibly to a bite. It's how dogs communicate with each other. Honoring pack order ensures that things run smoothly.
In the human world God established systems that make our communities run smoothly as well. There are people in charge: governing authorities, teachers, parents. And those under them who submit. When people operate in the fear of God according to their positions, the world runs smoothly. And when we don’t, there are corrections. When I get caught speeding, I get a ticket. When children misbehave, parents give appropriate chastisements. These consequences are allocated so that humans can learn to live together harmoniously.
In the Psalm above, David expresses the beautiful truth that God sees and knows him most intimately. He also acknowledges that he doesn’t know himself, like God does. So he asks God to: search, know, and test everything about him. And to point out whatever He finds offensive. Then he asks God to lead him according to His eternal ways. The great King over the ancient Jewish world was submitting himself to The Pack Leader of the universe.
I used to pray this prayer of David. But then when God answered, I would be upset. I’d feel hurt, judged, unloved. Why? Proverbs 12:1 explains “To learn, you must love discipline; it is stupid to hate correction.” I was being stupid. The Hebrew word means brutish, like an untamed animal that reacts rather than reasons through. It’s stupid to act like that toward the God who made and loves me. Just as it would be stupid to go to the doctor because I feel sick and then be angry when he tells me I'm overweight. I've got the flu. Or that I have cancer. It’s not personal. It’s just the truth—that if acted upon correctly may save my life!
It takes wisdom and humility to receive and respond to news I don’t like to hear. But if I really want to learn. If I really want to love and please God in every area of my life. I have to let Him tell me where I’m falling short. Where I’m wrong, deceived or rebellious. I must learn to welcome and to love corrections! It’s out of love, and for my good that God disciplines me. When I don't listen or take offense, I’m acting like a spoiled child. Or a dog with no sense. And in reality it's a challenge to God’s authority over me. It’s like saying, “You’re wrong. How dare you!” Or, “I know better than you do, so let me be.”
While I know this, it's easier said than done because God often sends His corrections by way of sinful, annoying people or through my daily circumstances. Maybe He wants me to love better. So He sends someone to hurt my feelings so that I might practice overlooking an offense and not taking a wrong suffered into account. Maybe He sees that my patience isn’t very long. He wants it longer. So He arranges for all my plans to fall apart and my desires to go unfulfilled. He's not being cruel. He's answering my prayers! So, will I get angry, be annoyed and feel sorry for myself? Or will I learn to welcome these opportunities as God's way to build and change my character?
“Thank you Lord, for what you give me today. For the incredible blessings as well as those things I don’t like very much. It hurts. Help me to trust You, to submit to your wise and loving training. Lead me along