Normally I post a blog entry devoted to the Verse of the Day, but today, I want to consider the Word for the Day, meaning that I have chosen to examine a particular word and expound upon its meaning and personal application. The Word for the Day for, November 4, 2015 is “research.” Currently I am teaching a composition course where my students are working on a research paper, and simultaneously as a professor at Carolina College of Biblical Studies, I am serving on the dissertation committee for a colleague who is completing the research for his dissertation from another university. The term “research” has been very much in my thoughts of late.
Research in its most literal sense means to “re-search” or to “search again.” My mind goes to Psalm 139, which in its entirety can be viewed as an invitation to deepest, divine inspection. The Psalmist opens with recognition that God knows all about us. He has made, formed and created us. Indeed, we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The celebrated psalm closes with a heartfelt request in verses 23-24 (KJV):
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:
And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139 also brings to mind a previous blog entry “Try me: Search me again” which is modified and re-posted today, as this new dose of good medicine from the shelves of Dr. J’s Apothecary Shoppe.
The original blog entry made reference to a life-changing teaching from Dr. David Jeremiah, who taught on the refining fire of God more than ten years ago. I discuss the message in this excerpt from a journal entry made following the teaching:
It is one of the most moving tapes I have heard, as he relates how God puts us through the process of refining in order to extract the precious metal from within us. In the same way that a refiner breaks the stones and sends them through the fire over and over again, so God sends us through the fires of life in order to extract and purify the gold within our souls. God removes our need to feel secure, to be in control, and to survive by putting us in situations that try us, “fiery temptations” that prove who we really are. God controls the entire process, determining the timing, the temperature, the target, and the terms of the fire. Our tendency is to respond with a series of questions as to “why?”: “why me?”, “why now?”, and “why not someone else?” Like children, we continually ask why when God, as a good parent, is not obligated to explain that which children cannot understand at the time they ask “why.” The only questions we should be asking are “What are you trying to teach me?” and “What are you trying to change in me?”
In reflecting upon the passage from Psalm 139, my mind is flooded with an understanding of what is transpiring in my life at this time. God is doing precisely what I asked Him to do in two poems “Try Me” and “Search Me: A Song for You” both of which express my deepest desire:
24Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
24 And see if there is any wicked way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary. . .
pure and holy, tried and true. . .
Contemporary Gospel Song
Purify my motive; assay my devotion;
weigh each desire, carat by carat, dram by dram.
In the refining fire of your furnace try me.
Test the mettle of my soul; scrape away all dross,
all debris that would adulterate my intents
and leave behind the purity of ore that I
may see my face reflected in the pool of gold.
I long to take the treasure of your precious Word,
securely hide it in the lock box of my heart
and as a faithful son, hand you the only key.
“Lord Prepare Me to be s Sanctuary” expresses in music the essence of that request.
Another poem that could be described as “the second verse of the same song” is also inspired in part by the same verses from Psalm 139:
Search Me: A Song for You
“I know your image of me is what I hope to be
If I’ve treated you unkindly, can’t you see?
That there’s no one more important to me.
Oh, won’t you please look through me. . .”
“A Song for You”–Leon Russell
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139: 23-24 (NLT)
The whole of my life unfolds as an open book,
Known and read by all with eyes to see, page by page.
As you read each line, take an even closer look,
Probe the depths of each of my thoughts, as you engage
The text, searching my heart for its deepest meaning.
Your searching and knowing is the ultimate scan.
As you discern my essence, my inmost being,
I will align myself according to your plan.
Beyond MRIs, devices to diagnose,
You see and assess any abnormality.
In these times of watchful waiting, you draw me close:
Despite what tests reveal, you have healed and delivered me.
At times I’m overwhelmed and don’t know what to do,
“But we’re alone now, and I’m singing this song to you.”
Hillsong offers a moving rendition of “Search Me O God,” an appropriate musical accompaniment to close today’s blog entry: