[Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness:]
Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress;
[have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.]
The third translation of Psalm Four, Verse One (see yesterday’s and yesterday’s yesterday’s posts for the first and second) comes from the King James Version.
Today is Earth Day. A strange day on which to commend our “enlargement” by God, or to seek it: We are told that so many of the environmental problems that assault our earthly home are because we have enlarged too much, too far, too profligately.
Biblically speaking, we have seen it all before. Only a few short chapters after the creation of the universe and our place in it according to Genesis, evil has spread throughout the earth because of the actions and corruption of humanity:
“The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And the Lord was sorry that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart … the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth.” (Genesis 6: 5-7, 11-12)
So there was a Flood, with a capital “F,” and the earth was inundated, creation washed away, the slate wiped clean. Full system restart.
Except for the remnant. There is always, in biblical stories, a remnant. The ones left to tell the tale; the ones left to carry God’s promise; the ones left to talk to God. And God told the remnant,
“Go forth and multiply.”
All over again.
God saw all that was created, and it was very good. And it went very bad. And God set it straight and sent it out once more to be the very good creation that it was designed to be. And one way or another, it kept/keeps going wrong, and it kept/keeps being redeemed by God, refreshed, cleaned up, renewed. God promised it wouldn’t happen again by means of a catastrophic Flood; that very good creation is too precious, and perhaps it was too painful to God to do it that way.
So God gives us room, sets us free to enlarge our presence in the very good creation, and God entrusts us with all that is in it, including each other. As we have enlarged our populations, we have to enlarge our understanding of the demands we make upon the rest of creation, and adapt accordingly. As we enlarge our understanding of the ways in which we can create industry, stuff, marvellous materials and ideas, we are called to enlarge our accountability to those who do not benefit from them, and/or are harmed by their production. As we enlarge our ability to communicate with one another, we are commanded to love one another all the more; to enlarge our hearts along with our minds.
As our room and our freedom are enlarged, we need ever more to enlarge our efforts to turn back to God, our creator, redeemer and sustainer, so that we do not get lost in our large, roomy, liberally blessed lives.
Otherwise, we will need the Good News translators’ prayer (number four of the trilogy),
“Answer me when I pray, O God, my defender! When I was in trouble, you helped me. Be kind to me now and hear my prayer,”
and faith that God will answer.