Daily D – Psalm 78:40-43
How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the wasteland!
Again and again they put God to the test;
they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
They did not remember his power—
the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
his wonders in the region of Zoan.
The Sunday School teacher was lecturing on Genesis 1 about God creating the heavens and the earth. This was our first, and only, day to attend this class. The teacher declared the six days of creation were each twenty-four hours long. He said the word Day always means a twenty-four-hour period of time in the pages of the Bible.
Summoning up a humorous reply to stretch his thinking a bit, it was my tongue that got bit as he pointedly and powerfully declared this was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. There was no room for other opinions.
It does not take much research to determine the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth of the teacher’s mistaken understanding. For example, these verses in this psalm use the word Day to refer to a period of time greater than the limits of a particular day like the ones we give the names Saturday, Sunday, and so on.
Asaph uses the word Day in verses 42 and 43 to refer to the period of time when God took on the gods of Egypt with the plagues which ultimately led to Israel’s release from slavery. Those ten plagues took much more than a twenty-four-hour period of time.
The truth is, you and I have probably held an opinion equally as strong as this teacher. We likewise have been as wrong as was he. There is a chance we hold a wrong opinion even today. Facebook is an opportunity to learn all matter of untrue facts. Twitter is very nearly its equal.
Some pontifications are too powerful for their own good.
Whether we teach Sunday School, public school, or ourselves, let us do so with humility of heart and mind acknowledging we do not know it all and never will. Let us likewise study well enough that we do not end every lesson with, “Yeah, but what do I know?”
There is a wide space between these extremes we should inhabit with openness of mind combined with charitable conviction. Some people will refuse correction. Some will not consider alternatives leading to growth, development, and transformation. Some will challenge you just because you are you.
Sometimes the best thing we can do in the face of ignorance is gently correct. Sometimes the best thing we can do is shut up. Or we can be like those penguins in the movie Madagascar and say, “Smile and wave, boys. Smile and wave.”
Sometimes we should smile and wave on the way out the door. We did. We did so in anticipation of a better day.
I will open my mind enough to learn new truth and close it enough to prevent new misunderstandings.
Our Father, teach us day by day as we lean toward that day when we will see all things clearly. Deliver us from the desire to be right about everything and to set everyone right in all of their mistaken thinking and behavior. Bless us with friends and family members who seek to know the truth. Show us how to adjust our lives well to your truth. Give us an increasing capacity for receiving and living your truth. May we know you, ourselves, and our world ever more truly as we learn to see all things from your perspective. Amen.
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Deuteronomy 8:12-18 When you eat and are full, and build beautiful houses to live in, and your herds and flocks grow large, and your silver and gold multiply, and everything else you have increases, be careful that your heart doesn’t become proud and you forget the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery. He led you through the great and terrible wilderness with its poisonous snakes and scorpions, a thirsty land where there was no water. He brought water out of the flint rock for you. He fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your ancestors had not known, in order to humble and test you, so that in the end he might cause you to prosper. You may say to yourself, ‘My power and my own ability have gained this wealth for me,’ but remember that the Lord your God gives you the power to gain wealth, in order to confirm his covenant he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 “Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.“
Deuteronomy 1:2, 3 It is an eleven-day journey from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea by way of Mount Seir. In the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first of the month, Moses told the Israelites everything the Lord had commanded him to say to them.