By Kris Wint, Pastor, Finland Mennonite Church
Editor’s Note: Mosaic’s upcoming Fall Assembly theme is based on Psalms 116 & 117.
I am not fond of running. Lately, however, I have found myself running four to five times a week to train for an upcoming sprint triathlon. Interestingly, the Holy Spirit has been using these training runs for more than my worldly goal of increasing physical endurance; the Holy Spirit has also been using them to teach and remind me of two foundational truths found in Psalm 116.
First, the Holy Spirit reminds me that the way I run (or walk) matters. Psalm 116 celebrates the faithfulness of the Lord, declaring that he is gracious, righteous, and merciful (v. 5, NRSV). In verse 9, we see the psalmist’s response to this faithful God: “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” This word “walk” has little to do with an actual stride; rather, it implies living and behaving as God directs. Is my posture consistent with that of Jesus?
Second, as runners know, where we run matters. Last week, the track where I normally run was closed, so I opted for plan B on a path I hadn’t run before. Unfortunately, this path had sections of loosely packed stones, obstacles, compacted grass-covered dirt, and a run-down sidewalk. Probably to no one’s surprise, it took more energy to run on these sections than on the straight and smooth track surface. “I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:9, emphasis mine). The word “before” indicates location in the presence of the Lord. The place where we walk matters, and when we are walking “before” the Lord, we are standing on him as our sure foundation. Are my positions consistent with those of Jesus?
Putting the two words together, then, “walking before” describes both how and where we walk – our postures and positions. This way of walking echoes a previous command of God: “You must therefore be careful to do as the Lord your God has commanded you; you shall not turn to the right or to the left” (Deuteronomy 5:32, NRS). Division is not a stranger to us. In a country divided by lefts and rights, we hear a different way being commanded for followers of Jesus. Walk straight. Do not turn aside.
How are we guilty of turning aside? We turn aside when we find ourselves believing, teaching, and declaring unbiblical and un-Christlike theological positions. However, we equally veer off the path when we find ourselves acting from unbiblical and un-Christlike postures (see 1 Corinthians 13, Ephesians 5:1-2, Galatians 5:16-25, James 3:13-18).
So, what are we to do when we realize that we have abandoned the posture and position of Christ? (Spoiler alert: each of us misses the mark daily.) The only faithful response is to confess and repent. We confess to our Lord and to one another. We repent by coming back to the sure foundation, which is Christ Jesus, our Lord. I pray that we all have the courage to run this race together, walking in grace and truth, and training to move forward together with the posture and positions of Christ.
Gracious is the Lord and righteous;
our God is merciful.
The Lord protects the simple;
when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest,
for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
I walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
-Psalm 116:5-9 (NRSV)
Kris Wint is the Lead Pastor at Finland Mennonite Church in Pennsburg, PA and is also a Mosaic board member.