“Offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.” Psalm 4
My wife and I have developed our own language. If I say—as I did last night—that tonight I’d be going to a “should thing,” what both of us know I mean is that I really don’t want to. I’d love to stay home; in fact, I’d much, much rather stay home. But I’m not. I’m going. It’s a “should thing.”
What both of us know is that, in life, often as not, we have to do things we’d rather not. We do them because we should. In the Christian’s life “should things” compel us much more often than they do, I’d guess, in a life that isn’t entangled in the commitments that arise from church and school and what not else with a halo.
Is it good for me—doing a whole raft of “should things?” Wouldn’t I be better off emotionally if I didn’t get collared by responsibilities that, with just a little tweaking, might well be seen as, well, appearances anyway? “I really should be there,” I say sometimes. Can conscience ever be a burden? Don’t all of us want to flip off the world once in a while and go our own way? I sure do. Don’t tell anybody, but often as not we get downright sick and tired of “should things.”
Of course, I choose to live in a small community, where what it costs to flip off the world is nothing to sneeze at. Where’s there’s no anonymity, there’s tons more responsibility, or so it seems to me. My wife and I live in a virtual Wal-Mart of “should things.” There are “should things” every blasted night. Maybe I’m overstating.
David’s twelve-step program in Psalm 4 continues in verse five with a couple of “should things”: “offer right sacrifices and trust in the Lord.”
Honestly, I don’t have much trouble with the trusting, but his first admonition strikes me as a “should thing.” It shouldn’t, but it does. Which is another conundrum, I guess, isn’t it?
If you want to get answers to prayers, David says, here’s a list of things to do; one of them is offer “right sacrifices.” It’s not even a matter of should here, it’s a matter of must. Sacrifice. Give of yourself. Echelons of therapists be hanged, if you want to sleep well (which is, in a way, what this Psalm in about), there are these things you should do.
I remember reading Abraham Kuyper’s suggestions for “should things.” He advised that if we really wanted to be near unto God we should act like him: we should forgive, we should love unconditionally, we should seek the best for others, we should sacrifice. You’ll know him best by doing what he does—that’s what Kuyper suggests. It made sense when I read it, and it makes sense today when I think it through. But oh, my goodness, what a multitude of “should things.” And they’re all tough.
Yes, my dear, there are “should things.” And yes, me, we ought to do them. We must.
And we’ve certainly got this much up on David, poet or King. We know darn well that some massively important things were done deliberately for us—and those events weren’t “should things” either. Start here, why don’t you: a cross, a death, a trip to hellishness.