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Psalm 66:13-15

Thursday, January 11

No Mo Bargaining

Narrative Lectionary Daily Devotions written by Kace Leetch from Clergy Stuff.

Today the psalmist promises to make good on the promises made when they were in trouble, and when God lifted them out of trouble. Sacrifices and burnt offerings were promised if only God would rescue them. And God did.

They say that bargaining is a common trait among those grieving losses. It goes like this... God, I promise I will go to church every Sunday for the rest of my life if you will just heal them. I wonder if such bargaining ever really worked.

When I was a teenager in the early '80's (don't do the math), my dad's friend was diagnosed with that new, scary, deadly disease known as AIDS. Back then, AIDS was a death sentence. There was no cure, no treatment that had any lasting effect. It was also at about the time a young Christian singer, Amy Grant, was rising to the top of her craft. I wanted to be her. I had started writing songs and teaching myself to play the guitar so I could become a Christian singer just like Amy Grant. So, I made a bargain with God. If God would cure my dad's friend of AIDS, I would dedicate my life to singing only Christian music. I would never record a secular song, once I rose to the top.

You can guess how this story ends. My dad's friend died. And I gave up my dream of being a Christian singer. I learned two things through this painful journey. First, I learned that God doesn't bargain like that. If God did, God would be little more than a magic genie for me to command at will. Second, I learned that God does work in mysterious ways despite myself -- I did pursue secular music until I came to the conclusion that, although I could sing fine in the shower, and even sometimes in church, I was nowhere near good enough to make a living at it. Who knew? 

God doesn't want our bargains or our promises. God wants us. God wants a relationship that is mutually respectful, honoring, and loving. I guess, in the end, I can live with that.

Narrative Lectionary Text: Psalm 66:13-15

I will come into your house with burnt-offerings;
   I will pay you my vows, 
those that my lips uttered
   and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. 
I will offer to you burnt-offerings of fatlings,
   with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats.

Earlier Event: January 10
Psalm 66:8-12
Later Event: January 12
Psalm 66:16-19