Scrubbing the gingerbread clock was no easy task for me. It was completely blackened with smoke deposited over many seasons of woodburning. For years, that clock had sat on a shanty floor behind a cabinet — all but forgotten.
Imagine being that clock and experiencing yourself to be forgotten and deteriorating. Elderly folk may know that feeling. Young folk may sense that happening to their skills and potential. Life’s trials can cause us to feel unappealing and pushed aside. The psalmist surely felt like that when, in anguish, he wrote, “I am like a wineskin in the smoke.” (Psalm 119:83a NIV)
Wineskins were used to store liquids or solid items. These containers were sometimes left to hang. Over time, the outside skin would become withered and blackened by the smoke from cooking fires. Meanwhile, the precious contents stayed safe, retaining their purpose and usefulness.
A believer’s life is like that: “Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16b NIV)
Unless we grasp this truth, we’ll be preoccupied with the outward while neglecting the inner being. Inner deprivation weakens our ability to endure trials. Psalm 119 reveals the solution. The psalmist constantly renewed his inward being — as in these examples:
* “Though I am like a wineskin in the smoke, I do not forget your decrees.” (verse 83 NIV)
* “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” (verse 92 NIV)
* “The wicked are waiting to destroy me, but I will ponder your statutes.” (verse 95 NIV)
These verses nudge me beyond my bland view of God’s “decrees”, “laws”, “statutes”, and similar terms. The psalmist never could have endured trials if these words meant little more than a written code for human behaviour. No, this is about God, God’s behaviour, God’s ways, His ordering of the universe, His timeless promises, His redemptive purposes. It’s also about God’s tender touch on us, His kiss, His delight in us.
Like the psalmist, that gives me a lot to “ponder”, “remember”, and “delight in”. Such a habit will surely help to renew me inwardly and preserve me for God’s purposes.
Back to the old clock. When I scrubbed away the soot from the glass door, I noticed that the inside works were well preserved. With the touch of a master repairman, this clock can again fulfill its purpose: to exude its soothing sounds and help people order their daily lives.
Do you inwardly long for the Father’s masterful renewing touch? Then, consider this personal prayer request, drawn from Ephesians 1 and 3.
Prayer: My God and Father, enlighten me inwardly with Your wisdom and revelation. Strengthen my heart’s capacity to know You, to grasp the magnitude of Your love, and to fathom the enormous power which You exerted in raising Christ and seating Him in the heavenly realms, above all other powers and authorities. I seek You, Father, to fill me with immeasurably more than all that I could ask or imagine. Amen.
Copyright © 2023, by Diane Eaton <firstname.lastname@example.org>, first published on the PresbyCan Daily Devotional presbycan.ca
Paisley, Ontario, Canada
Used with the permission of PresbyCan and author.