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“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rustdestroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." (Matthew 6:19-21, ESV)

 

songs of ascent: Psalm 120

Chad Karger

“Nobody wants to be here and nobody wants to leave.”

(From Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road)

Psalm 120 marks the beginning of the journey to Jerusalem. As invocations go, it’s not what you would expect. It’s surprising namely because it is a cry of desperation. Surrounded by liars and sick of the lies coming out of their own mouths, the chorus begins, “In my distress I called on the Lord.”

Faithfulness isn’t pretty and doesn’t always rhyme! Being sure of what they hope for and convicted of what they had only glimpsed, the faithful continue the journey. Faith disrupts the status quo. Instead of reclining into the despair described in McCarthy’s book, The Road, the faithful press on by the power of grace given to them in Jesus.

On that road, they meet Jesus. In fact, according to John 14:1-6, Jesus is the road, or the Way. Without Jesus, our cries of despair turn into echo chambers, intensifying our anger and sorrow. The pain and frustration tempt us to take shortcuts. Jesus is the Way we were looking for when we took the shortcut.

Jesus is also the Truth amidst all the lies. Even when when I begin to reproduce all the lies I’ve been told, Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh; He is the Truth. There are millions of little lies that are rooted in the big lie, which Jesus destroys.

The big lie that all other lies birth from says: IF God does exist, God is not concerned with the details of my life. Since God is not concerned, it’s all up to me to do more and try harder. This means that my identity is forged in my efforts and outcomes. Moreover, I must always avoid and deny my weaknesses and only focus on my strengths. Even if I like certain people, everyone else is nothing but a means to my ends. Lies, lies, and more lies.

As Eugene Peterson says, “These lies are impeccably factual. They contain no errors. There are not distortions or falsified data. But they are lies all the same, because they claim to tell us who we are and omit everything about our origin in God and our destiny in God,” (A Long Obedience in the Same Direction).

How will I ever find my way out of these lies? Deliverance begins with “a warriors sharp arrows” (Psalm 120:4). Compared with a knife or some other confrontation, the song describes the arrow which seems to come out of nowhere and when we least expect it! It is an arrow whose tip is aflame with the Truth.

God is near. I am given to all sorts of distractions.
God is powerful. I am a fallen and finite man.
God is wealthy. I lack what I need in and of myself.

These arrows of truth revealing who God is and who I am. The truth reveals that all of my needs and desires are satisfied in God.

“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions (where lies operate) of the heart,” (Hebrews 4:12).

Instead of the arrows destroying life, they bring life!

Jesus is the way, the truth, and the LIFE!

Saying “NO!” to the lies and the liars, then, is a resounding “YES!” to Jesus. 

Yes to His presence, power, and riches!

Yes to His peace! 

Yes to continue by faith, sure of what we hope for and certain of what have not fully seen!