7The law of the Lord is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure,
making wise the simple;
8the precepts of the Lord are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear,
enlightening the eyes;
9the fear of the Lord is pure,
the ordinances of the Lord are true
and righteous altogether.
10More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey,
and drippings of the honeycomb.
11Moreover by them is your servant warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
12But who can detect their errors?
Clear me from hidden faults.
13Keep back your servant also from the insolent;
do not let them have dominion over me.
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable to you,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
If you are familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism, you might remember that it is outlined in three parts: guilt through sin, grace given in Christ, and living in eternal gratitude. One of the most comforting things I learned while studying the Standards of the RCA was discovering the Heidelberg Catechism discusses God’s law in the “gratitude” section. (Yes, I know, hard to believe, but there was some joy and comfort found in that experience.) The psalmist speaks of the Lord’s law from a place of gratitude. There is rejoicing and enlightening, enduring and being made righteous, cleansing and being made wise through the law of the Lord.
As we live in this time of Lent, we sit in a darkness that is full of anticipation. It is not the same anticipation filled with joy and light that we live in as we light candles during Advent. Rather, it is the kind of anticipation that comes when walking in the desert. It’s the harshness of heat, sorrow, and hunger. And yet we still live in expectation, for even in the midst of the long journey toward Holy Week, we acknowledge our guilt, relish God’s grace, and respond in gratitude. For we know that Christ fulfills the law. Christ is walking the road to Calvary because his grace and salvation are sweeter than the sweetest honey. This is why, even during this time, we live a life of gratitude.
Q&A 86 of the Heidelberg Catechism asks, “Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own, why then should we do good works?” It answers, “Because Christ, having redeemed us by his blood, is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image, so that with our whole lives we may show that we are thankful to God for his benefits, so that he may be praised through us, so that we may be assured of our faith by its fruits, and so that by our godly living our neighbors may be won over to Christ.” I find such comfort in knowing that the law is something to be grateful for. Its message is sweet, life giving, and assuring, even in the darkest hours of the year, even as we await the death of Christ.
Prayer: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, may we live in gratitude even as we walk through this time of Lent. May you give us the heart, ears, and eyes to see how you are working in the world around us, and may we live so that “our neighbors may be won over to Christ.” May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. In your Spirit we pray. Amen.
Chelsea Lampen, along with her husband, Jeff, and their two children, Lorelei and Caspian, serve as RCA missionaries in Lupeni, Romania. Chelsea walks alongside international students as they grow in depth and knowledge of how Christ is working in Eastern Europe.