A NEW LIFE
“Make Thy way straight before my face.”
One could easily paraphrase this verse to say, ”Frustrate what I am planning to do and You take over. I don’t only need help, I need change.” The old religious verse”, Help me every day to be, just a little more like Thee”, has no basis in the Psalms, or even in the rest of Scripture. The Scriptures make it clear that as human beings we are by nature sinful and unclean and that we daily sin against our Lord by thought, word and deed. What we need is not help but a complete transformation. Is that not what we reaffirm each Sunday when we pray in church, “Create in me a clean heart, O God?” The heart that God gives is His creation, not ours.
What about that fact that you and I are Christians? Do not we, as Christians, need help to lead a more perfect life? We need more than help, we need a new life. In fact, the more the Scriptures teach us about the virtues of Christianity, the more glaring our faults and shortcomings become. Our need for renewal is emphasized by the fact, that because of our basic evil nature, we do not have the power to improve ourselves. A new life of faith is nothing we can accomplish, but is purely the work of God’s Holy Spirit.
How does the Spirit renew our faith? The Spirit does not jump out of heaven in response to our prayer. The Spirit works through the Word of God. It is through the Word of God that the Spirit points out our faults by telling us, “Don’t lust, don’t cheat, don’t lie, don’t deceive, and don’t commit adultery”. We, in turn, look to the forgiving love of the Lord God and say, “For Jesus’ sake, forgive me”. That is called repentance, and that will go on as long as we live.
If we are to grow in faith, we need a life of repentance, for without repentance there is not even the chance of Christian life. Each time the Spirit moves us to regret the urgings of our evil nature and to look to Jesus for forgiveness, our thankfulness to the Lord for His undeserved mercy is increased. And this is something people can see! Thankfulness shows itself in our Christian behavior, in what we say and think and do. You see, it is all God’s work, not ours. How much, then, do we not want to pray with the Psalmist, “Make Thy way straight before my face”.