Business as Usual
Lately I’ve become convinced that as the world around gradually reopens, many of us have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to reorder our lives. The slate may not be totally clean, but for some of us it’s as close as we’ll ever get, which has led me to conclude that the worst thing any of us could do when the COVID-19 pandemic ends is go right back to business as usual. So with that in mind, listen to the message of Psalm 1, because in it the Lord shows us what a truly blessed life is like, and the choices we must make to have it.
1 How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
3 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.
Now from those words, allow me to offer four truths of a truly blessed life – truths which can keep us from going back to business as usual…
The Blessed Way Begins With No
Did you catch that? Verse 1 said that the truly blessed believers are the ones who have settled what they’re not into. He or she is not led by the world’s thinking, aligned with its values, or engaged in its ways of doing life.
Ralph Davis tells the story of a woman who, on her 104th birthday, was asked the best part of being so old. Her answer: “No peer pressure.”[i] But since the rest of us have no such luxury, we must wake up to the fact that the psalmist opens the entire handbook of Old Testament worship this way because he knows that where you hang determines who you’ll become. So what we pursue had better be worth it, and the psalmist says that the blessed way starts by deciding what you’ll say “no” to.
We must wake up to the fact that the psalmist opens the entire handbook of Old Testament worship this way (Psalm 1:1) because he knows that where you hang determines who you’ll become.
The Blessed Way is Lived With God
You know what it’s like to have something big coming up where, even though you’re ostensibly sitting at your desk “working”, the thought of it is never far from your mind – to the point where you find yourself murmuring about it under your breath? That’s exactly the psalmist’s idea in verse 2, because the word “meditate” means to mutter or murmur. It describes finding a promise in God’s Word that you end up ruminating on all day long. Simply put, you find yourself preoccupied with God.
But let’s be honest: that’s not easy, especially in the lives most of us were living pre-pandemic. And you know what I recently learned that makes it harder still? That while the typical goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds, the typical American’s attention span is 8![ii]
That’s why before returning to business as usual – you must settle the matter of whether or not you’re going to genuinely open the Bible and seek Him each day until suddenly, you discover He’s become your delight.
The Blessed Way is Slow
In verse 3 the psalmist says that whoever aligns their life with verses 1-2 will be “like a tree firmly planted by streams of water.” And one thing all trees have in common is that they grow slowly. Roots go down, trunk rises up, branches fan out, and leaves bud, and none of it can be rushed. Period.
Same goes for the truly blessed Christian life. As a follower of Jesus, do you want to grow strong, branch out, and bear fruit? Then you must make time to really read your Bible. To fully engage in corporate worship. To pray with mind and heart engaged. And yes, even to Sabbath – to rest. None of which can be rushed. Period.
As a follower of Jesus, do you want to grow strong, branch out, and bear fruit? Then you must make time to really read your Bible. To fully engage in corporate worship. To pray with mind and heart engaged. And yes, even to Sabbath – to rest.
In his book The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, John Mark Comer tells of an English traveler who went to Africa intent on a quick journey into the jungle. Upon arriving he hired some locals to lead the way, and after a full day of rigorous travel on foot, he was up and ready to move on the next morning. But his guides refused to move. Their explanation? “We’re waiting for our souls to catch up with our bodies.”[iii] When did you last do that? Listen: the blessed way of Jesus is slow. And it’s the very antithesis of business as usual.
The Blessed Way Ends Well
Like many sports fans, I’ve been watching “The Last Dance” – the story of the Chicago Bulls’ final championship run. And as much as I’ve enjoyed it, what astonishes me about these men who’ve experienced more success in life than most is their palpable sense of unhappiness. With a few exceptions, most of the interviews are marked by so much pettiness, bitterness, and lingering grudges that I found myself wondering, “Was it worth it?”
Or as the psalmist asks, is it not all ultimately “chaff which the wind drives away”? Whereas “the Lord knows the way of the righteous” (v.6a), which one source calls “a deep commitment to, love for, and care of his own.”[iv] And He has promised to get you Home.
There’s a saying in the business world that “every system is perfectly designed to get the results it gets.”[v] Same goes for us. So in view of what we’ve seen here in Psalm 1, what is your system producing? I ask because again, we don’t have to return to business as usual. This is a golden opportunity to truly make following Jesus our way of life. Will you do it?
Copyright © 2020 Aaron Telecky. All rights reserved.
[i] Dale Ralph Davis, The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life; p.15
[ii] John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry; p.38
[iii] John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry; p.45
[iv] The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol.5; p.58
[v] John Mark Comer, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry; p.85
Aaron Telecky has served as pastor of Maranatha Bible Church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, since 1999. He and his wife, Beth, have been married for 26 years and have 6 children. Aaron met Daniel Henderson during a prayer time at a national pastor’s conference, where he was captivated by the power of Scripture-fed, Spirit-led, worship-based prayer. Aaron now serves as a key member of Strategic Renewal’s Transformational Ministry Team.