Psalm 119:105-112 (The Message)
By your words I can see where I’m going; they throw a beam of light on my dark path. I’ve committed myself and I’ll never turn back from living by your righteous order. Everything’s falling apart on me, GOD; put me together again with your Word. Festoon me with your finest sayings, GOD; teach me your holy rules. My life is as close as my own hands, but I don’t forget what you have revealed. The wicked do their best to throw me off track, but I don’t swerve an inch from your course.I inherited your book on living; it’s mine forever— what a gift! And how happy it makes me! I concentrate on doing exactly what you say— I always have and always will.
There’s a scene from the Wizard of Oz, where the Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion are hiking through the dark forest on their way to the fortress of the Wicked Witch in a desperate effort to capture the witch’s broom. But they are attacked by a swarm of Flying Monkeys who capture Dorothy and carry her off. The Scarecrow, in his valiant effort to defend Dorothy, has been ripped to pieces and all that remains of him is straw scattered on the ground.
Fortunately, Scarecrow’s friends gather all the scattered straw and stuff it back into him. It’s a beautiful scene, when the Scarecrow’s friends put him back together again. And off they go to rescue Dorothy!
Have you ever needed to be put back together again, like the Scarecrow? Pieces of straw, pieces of your life, scattered every which way, spread all over the place. Sometimes it is something huge, like recovering from a bad accident or a medical emergency or the loss of a loved one. I was in a serious accident eleven years ago, and being put back together again was not just the physical treatment but the mental and spiritual recovery. At two recent funerals I advised the grieving to understand that it will take time for God to put people back together again after the loss of a loved one.
More often, the need to be put back together again is for less catastrophic situations, like losing a boyfriend, failing an exam, losing a job, or making a bad investment. But, still, God is committed to putting you and me back together again.
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and the longest chapter in the entire Bible, with a huge number of verses, we’re reading verses 105 to 112, but I loved discovering the one verse we’re thinking about this morning. Everything’s falling apart on me, GOD; put me together again with your Word.
Many years ago, a man from my church in Rochester driving under the influence, missed a curve in the road, his car rolled over several times and hit a tree. He was very banged up, with broken bones and serious lacerations. When I saw him in the hospital, bandaged and in casts, he proudly explained that God must have been looking out for him, as if faith is nothing more than luck, and this time he got lucky.
God putting you back together is not just getting lucky in a universe of troubles and disasters. The Psalm tells us not to be passive, just hoping for good luck, but to actively seek God’s Word. The Word is that Biblical verse or story that shows you the way to being put back together.
For example, the prophet Ezekiel sees a valley of long-dead dry bones being put back together again, a parable of God’s love for any one who is broken and in pieces. Zaccheaus the tax collector is a greedy cheat, whom everyone hates, but with a word Jesus puts him back together again. Peter failed Jesus at the time of the crucifixion, but in the resurrection Jesus put Peter back together again. The Word is Jesus, the one God sends to do this work of healing and hope. Don’t just hope he will come by, look for him!
As you heard our plan for re-opening, maybe that too is an example of God putting things back together again. Our common life in ministry has been as shattered and scattered as the Scarecrow’s straw was in the Wizard of Oz, but we trust that God is putting us back together again, by the Word, in the Word and for the Word, not just what we were, but what we are becoming.
So, today, the Scripture comes to life: God sends Jesus to you, to put you back together again, to put all of us back together again. [James R. Renfrew]