When my daughter was in high school, she overheard a fellow female student engaging in a heated discussion with a new girl who had recently arrived on campus. Evidently, this new student had crossed some unseen social line of demarcation. Perhaps, she had sat at the wrong lunch table, worn the same dress, or flirted with the wrong guy? Maybe she had become too popular too quickly and had not yet paid her proper dues? Who knows? It is not clear what had transpired to warrant the wrath of the dominant teenage diva. However, during this conversation, my daughter actually heard the school primadonna utter the following words aloud, “Learn your place!”
Upon hearing that transaction, I immediately felt three strong desires. First, I wanted to have a conversation with the pompous princess. Who did she think she was? What made her imagine she was “all that?” What kind of arrogance leads one to imagine they are the one before whom all others must bow and make tribute? I wanted her to “find her place.”
Then, I wanted to go and find the new young girl and bring her a cupcake or something. I desired to give her a very appropriate fatherly embrace and offer some words of encouragement. No one likes being the new person. No one enjoys the pain of starting afresh, building a new friend group, and trying to figure out how to fit in. I wanted to be of some assistance and encouragement to her.
Then, being concerned for my daughter, I wanted to use this a teaching moment. I knew the pressure I had encountered to morph, adjust, shift, politic, change, sell-out, and bow-down in order to be accepted by some desired peer group. I did not want my girl to compromise. I wanted her to know she was a special child of the Father — one with incredible worth, dignity, honor, skill, and desirability. Oh how I wanted my precious daughter to have confidence, stand tall, and not be swayed by such arrogant punketts or punks.
Well friends, that was several years ago. Lord willing, the Spirit of God has done something special in the lives of all three ladies — the one speaking, the one receiving, and the one over-hearing. We have all had horrible moments we would like to forget. I trust all three young ladies are running to their Heavenly Father, over and over again, and being constantly reminded of their identity in him. I trust all three women have “learned their place” as the honored and beloved bride of Jesus Christ.
This morning, in my reading of Psalm 127, the Lord reminded me to “learn my place.” However, he did not do so in an ignorant or arrogant manner as did the diva. No, he spoke correctly and compassionately, and as his words flowed from the Scripture to my heart, I found them instructive, humbling, encouraging, freeing, and life-giving.
Hear with me the instruction of the Lord:
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)
Correctly and compassionately he reminds us of his place. He reminds us he is the Creator who made the heavens and the earth. He is the Sovereign one who watches over all and never sleeps. He is the all-knowing, all-wise, all-powerful, and everywhere present Master. Truly the world is in his hand. No one can resist his eternal decree and providential control. He is the Lord. He is in an entirely different league from us, and there is none like our God.
Correctly and compassionately he reminds us of our power. Whatever sort of leaders, builders, workers, administrators, executives, managers, governors, teachers, elders, ministers, fathers, or mothers we may be, we have no inherent power. Apart from him, we can do absolutely nothing of value. Yes, regardless of how much we scheme, how much we sweat, and how little we sleep, all our labors are empty, hollow, vain, or futile apart from him. He is all-potent, and we are impotent. Who do we think we are? There is absolutely no reason for us to think more highly of ourselves and our abilities than we ought.
Correctly and compassionately he grants us his prosperity and his peace. Like all others, we are called to go to work, war, and worship. As Christians, we are to be those least lazy and most ambitious. We are priests of the King summoned to have a “great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission.” Therefore, today, let us leave our beds and seek to produce great products, make great profit, build great cities, pass great legislation, have great marriages, parent great children, make a great number of disciples, build great churches, and make much of our Great God. Today, let us work hard because we are crazy about our Heavenly Father and compassionate for those created in his image. Passionately we get to be those who build, labor, watch, guard, and toil, and we do so rising early and going to bed late.
However, unlike those without Christ’s Spirit, we are enabled to enjoy building without anxiety and fear. We get to be aggressive and not anxious. As wise, humble, and Spirit-filled men and women of God, we get to work and not worry. Why? We know our fraility and do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought. We also know our God and recount his ability to accomplish all he desires through punketts and punks. We have read our scriptures and seen him use Abraham’s seed, Sarah’s womb, Moses’ staff, Balaam’s donkey, Jonah’s pathetic evangelism, and one lad’s lunchbox. We know he can do marvelous things through simple and pathetic instruments. Therefore, we have great peace while we greatly perspire. We get to be leaders and laborers absolutely confident Christ is the Lord and we are not. We have “learned our place,” and we are learning to love it.
Therefore anxious friends, what part of the above passage are we not believing?
- Are we thinking to lowly of our God?
- Are we thinking to highly of ourselves?
- Are we misunderstanding success?
- Are we putting more pressure on us than we ought to bear?
Fellow worshipers, let us go to our Lord this morning in prayer and focus on his sovereignty.
Then let us spend some time remembering our frailty.
Then let us allow the Spirit to release some pressure in our heads and hearts. Let us be instructed, repent, and cast our cares upon him. Let us cherish his peace.
Then, let’s confidently go to work. Today, tomorrow, and this year, we will be as successful as he deems us be. Therefore, let us swing for the fences and aim for greatness. Let us keep things in perspective and “learn our place.” As we do, we will work hard, walk in peace, reap fantastic fruit, and sleep pretty well in our beds.