Looking at vanities…

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Psalm 119: 33 Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end. 34 Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. 35 Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. 36 Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain. 37 Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways. 

The writer of Psalm 119 is committed to responding to adversity by pursuing “the way of your statutes”. The part that most gets my attention this morning is, “Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways”.

We don’t know what vanities the writer has in mind, but life is full of them. It seems the older I get the more fully aware I become of how some of the things I’ve pursued in life are of questionable value. One specific thing I’m thinking about today is time I spent away working when my children were school age. I spent six years traveling – a lot – when my kids were in elementary, middle and high schools.

Now that they’re young adults I realize the times I missed are gone forever. 

I did my best to be present for them while I was on the road during those years, but there’s no substitute for being physically present. I learned that the notion of “quality time” with children which can be scheduled is a myth. Important things in life happen when they happen, and you’re either around to participate in them, or you’re not. I’m not saying I was an absentee dad, but I see now, in hindsight, that I could have made different choices.

But the past is the past isn’t it? We can learn from it, but we can’t fix it. What we can do is learn from the past to live our present and future better. That’s what I’m thinking about today.

Lord turn my eyes from looking at vanities. Amen.

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