Our church publishes a little booklet every Lent, comprising short meditations on chosen Bible verses, done by members of the congregation. This year, when they asked for volunteers, I signed up. Part of the reason was the challenge of saying something meaningful in 100 words. As you will see, I exceeded that slightly—but was still within the boundaries. April 3rd was my day, so I'm publishing it here as well.
Romans 9:33: and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame
These words occur several times in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. "Him" refers to the Messiah in the Old, identified with Jesus Christ in the New. In context and in combination they portray Jesus as a rock that can be a secure foundation or a stumbling block. The characteristics that make rock a good base on which to build also make it painful and costly to ignore as we walk along.
"Never be put to shame" is also translated as “not make haste, not be disturbed, not panic, not worry, not be disappointed.” If Jesus is the foundation of our lives, there is no need to worry or make frantic efforts. Our responsibility is to do our work with calm confidence: God has our backs.
What was remarkable, for me, was how I accomplished the project. It may not seem like much to those of you who can whip off such things easily, but trust me, my usual approach to such assignments has always been (1) put it on the shelf because the deadline is comfortably far off, (2) periodically think to myself, "oh, yes, I need to get that done," (3) forget about it entirely, and (4) remember at the 11th hour, panic, drop everything else, and stay up late to finish the job, with the dissatisfaction of knowing I could have done better.
However, this time the scenario went like this:
I received my assignment on Tuesday. I took a quick look at the context of the verse excerpt, then laid the task aside, keeping it in my mind and prayers as I did other things.
During the day I found a few moments here and there to look up information about the verse and make a few notes. (Hooray for the Internet.) I continued to think in the background and pray.
Wednesday I sat down and wrote my thoughts. This was the longest part, but it wasn't hard because I had done the legwork already. Saying what I want the way I want to always takes time, but it flowed well, which was a good thing because Wednesday was a very busy day. I finished it Wednesday night after choir and still got to bed on time.
Thursday morning I reread it, made a couple of minor tweaks, and sent it off—earning commendations for being the first to return my meditation, three weeks in advance of the deadline.
It's a small victory, but gives me hope that eventually I'll figure out how to make it spill over into the rest of my life. You know, the "do my work with calm confidence" part!