Links Daily Devotional

Our Best Efforts

But God will redeem my life from the grave; he will surely take me to himself. (Psalm 49:15, NIV)

Once or twice a year, mostly to put myself through what the players I coach must go through every time they compete, I sign on to play a local scratch event. I’m not going to threaten the lead, but it’s good to quiver on the first tee, brave a flop shot under pressure, and putt out every two-footer. And when I do this well, I can put a couple numbers up that look OK on the scoreboard.

But with such an event on the horizon in mid-spring, I realize something even now: I need to get my game in shape.

If you’re suffering through the nastiness of this year’s northern winter, you know what it means to be out of golf shape. But while we’ve had plenty of sunny days to get out, my schedule hasn’t allowed for much golf in recent weeks. That needs to change—at least if I am going to legitimately compete.

Golf is a wonderful game, that a 50-something can still hold out hope like this! I can commit some extra time to working on my game, and while no score is guaranteed, I can anticipate hitting better shots after a stretch of practice than I’m hitting right now. That’s a beautiful thing, what we might call the strength of man.

Psalm 49, written by the sons of Korah, speaks much of human ambition and the will of a person to accomplish things on earth. If you set to the task of attaining success, you can get there. The psalmists concede this.

What the psalmists do not concede is the wisdom of such a focus. Their chief argument is this: whether you are rich or poor in life, you are the same in death. You go to the grave. There is no human power that can change this. In our own strength, our own understanding, we are at the end no better off than the beasts of the field. That’s sobering.

But if growing older teaches us anything, it should probably be that sobriety is a good thing. The constant numbing against the truth about life—whether it comes by alcohol or ambitious effort, artistry or adventure—doesn’t change the facts. Principal among these? We cannot redeem ourselves.

And there lies the hopeful midpoint in Psalm 49, which we feature as today’s passage. God can redeem our lives from the grave. He can take the worthless corpse and bring it to life again. This is the wonder (and eternal joy) of resurrection. This is our great hope—or if you read closely the words of the psalmists, our great promise: “He will surely take me to himself.” This is the reason we run to Jesus, this is why we go to the God who alone is mighty to save.

Jeff Hopper
February 18, 2015
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