I will sing about the Lord’s steadfast love and his justice; I will make music with my mouth and my life (v. 1).

I will think long and hard on the path that is blameless, longing for the help that comes from God so that I might not stray from his ways (v. 2a).

I will live and walk in my home with a heart of integrity; I will be above reproach in my private life (v. 2b).

I will not let my eyes look on anything that is worthless (v. 3a).

I will know nothing of evil, but will hate, reject, and flee from perversity and from those who call me to fall away from God (v. 3b-4).

I will silence those who slander others (v. 5a).

I will not tolerate those with proud looks and arrogant hearts, including the pride in my own heart (v. 5b).

I will open my life to those who are faithful and blameless, surrounding myself with them and seeking to be ministered to by them (v. 6).

I will not put down roots with liars (v. 7).

I will destroy wickedness every morning (v. 8).

(Psalm 101)

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“One thing I have asked of the Lord,
That I will seek after:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord
All the days of my life,
To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
And to inquire in his temple.”

Psalm 27:4

Asking the Lord for something we desire does not eliminate the need to seek after what we desire, especially if our request is for a deeper walk with the Father. In fact, if we truly desire what we are asking for, then we will seek hard after it. Making a request of God and then not putting any feet to that request is not necessarily a sign of deep faith; it could be a sign of laziness and apathy or a revelation that what we say we truly desire is not really that deep of a longing.

Of course, that is not to reinforce the adage that, “God helps those who help themselves.” Certainly God can fulfill our desires without any help from us. But in an age where most things can be acquired with the click of button, it is good to remember that while growth in godliness, “dwelling in the house of Lord,” and understanding the radiance of his beauty are gifts of God’s gracious self-revelation, they are also things that must be sought after with unyielding tenacity. Intimacy with God and Christlikeness in word and deed are not items on Amazon that simply need to be placed in a cart and shipped overnight. Which is why it is good to talk of the fight of faith, because we must fight every day to find God as more satisfying and more to be sought after than anything else. It is good to talk of the fruit of the Spirit, because fruit takes effort to cultivate and time to blossom and ripen. And in both illustrations, our efforts, our seeking, simply yield God’s power; God fights the battle and God produces the fruit in the mysterious mixing of divine sovereignty and human responsibility.

If we long to know God and walk in his ways, we will pray fervently for his help, and we will also actively press on hard to know him. It is not one or the other: we must pray that God would allow us to know more of who he is and make us more like himself, and then we must seek after him with all our heart, banking on the encouragement and the promise of Proverbs 8:17: “I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.”

A few days ago my wife pointed out that we have been married with children longer than without – Elaine turned three yesterday, and our 6th wedding anniversary won’t be until September 1st. I have vague recollections of those days of virtually carefree living before children. For the first 3 months of our marriage I was the only one working, and at Starbucks for that matter. Our entire relationship had been long-distance, so we soaked in the time together. When Andrea began work in January, life got a little busier, and when I started Seminary in the fall, we learned to value our downtime together even more. Having a child wasn’t on our radar screen – how could we make time for that amidst our busy lives? We knew we wanted kids, but not until things slowed down. Then, amidst the start of my second year of schooling, we found out we were having a baby.

It’s funny how children define your life even before they are born. The budget finally became something to seriously stick to, and our once spacious apartment began to feel slightly cramped. Even our definition of what it meant for life to be busy was shattered.

Marriage and children are gifts from God and have probably been the greatest means of making me more like Christ, second only to Scripture. Joining my life with my wife’s was a tangible step in helping me see more clearly that the world doesn’t revolve around me, though my immature mind probably simply pulled her into the center of the universe with me. Sure, theologically and philosophically I would have said that all things are created for God’s glory, as are my wife and I, but more often than not I functionally placed myself and my wife (probably in that order) above the glory of God. Sadly, I’m still prey to the same trap. Having Elaine 3 years ago and Lena last August have both been strong pushes on my ego, sending it further from the center of the earth’s rotation.

The removal of me from the center, though, should not result in the placing of my wife or children there, causing me to simply focus on their wants or even needs. Surely I have a responsibility to provide for my family and seek their happiness, but allowing my life to be focused wholly on them is the wrong approach. My wife and children are gifts, and the danger with such immense gifts is to exalt them above the Giver. God has not blessed me with an amazing wife and two beautiful little girls so that I will exalt them, but so that I will exalt Him, the Giver of all good gifts. The point of God gracing me with such breathtaking gifts is not so I worship them, but so that I worship Him.

In fact, my family should point me toward the greatest gift: the gift of salvation through Jesus. All other gifts are the fruit of that priceless and completely undeserved gift, the greatest example of a gift that glorifies the Giver, not the totally unworthy recipient.