If you follow me on social media (here, here, and here), you know I’ve been writing a book proposal for Secrets of the Happy Soul. It will be a journey through several Psalms to see what the Bible has to say about happiness and the God in whom we find it. This is the first step in many towards (hopefully!) seeing this book on the shelves. I thought I’d share with you one of the more put-together pieces of this crazy puzzle I’m working on. 🙂
My degree is in Medical Technology. It’s a bit of an obscure field. In fact, it’s been renamed since I graduated. Essentially, it’s lab work. If you’ve had your blood drawn or peed in a cup to have it sent off to the lab, the Med Techs (now called Clinical Laboratory Scientists … because I know you really wanted to know) are the ones that analyze it.
Right out of college, I worked full time in a huge hospital. My time was split between the Chemistry lab and Blood Bank. I enjoyed Blood Bank so much more because it was all manual work, whereas Chemistry was mostly run by machines. I also had a very competent co-worker in Blood Bank (we’ll call her Sally). She already had tons of experience and, since I was the newbie, that was a great comfort to me. Blood Bank is serious business. When a patient needs a blood transfusion, we received the orders for a type and cross-match. We would figure out what blood type the patient is (A+, B-, etc.), then cross-match the bags of blood ordered with the patients own blood to ensure there would be no life-threatening incompatibility reactions. Yeah, so the whole “this patient will die if you mess this up” pressure was pretty scary for me. Thus, why I really liked working with Sally.
On the nights where we didn’t have many orders to fill, I would attempt to get to know Sally a bit through small talk. I learned that she had been in the military and wasn’t originally from Florida, but that was about all I could get out of her. I could tell she would rather be lost in her book than talk to me, so I defaulted to bringing something to keep me occupied for those slow evenings. Since that part of the lab was small, I often would move into our supervisor’s office to read, as she had previously told me I was welcome to use the space on her desk if needed.
After working about several months together, I noticed Sally had progressively become even more quiet and grumpy around me. She’d become impatient with my questions about work and stuck to as little interaction as possible. I could tell something was up.
One evening (I can’t even remember exactly what set her off), Sally lit into me about being disrespectful to our supervisor. She went on and on about how inappropriate it was that I sat at our boss’ desk night after night. Sally proceed to tell me how much trouble she would have been in if she did that while in the military, and how it was utterly despicable behavior. Then she went back into her shell in the opposite corner by the Fresh Frozen Plasma freezer and returned to pretending I didn’t exist.
Looking back, her lack of receptiveness to my attempts to get to know her, and the fact that she spoke to me only when necessary to get our job done made a whole lot of sense now. She was utterly annoyed by my presence and couldn’t stand to be in the same room as me! I was a constant offense to her protocol. She was furious, I was frustrated, and our work hours together incredibly frigid.
Maybe you, too, have had a situation where you could tell you’ve offended someone but you didn’t know exactly what you did wrong. You had been held unfairly to an unspoken code of conduct—leaving you in a continual state of violation. Disheartening, isn’t it?
As frustrated, annoyed, and even embarrassed I was to find out that I had been unintentionally offending Sally for months and months,it would be much more so to find out that I’d unintentionally offended the holy, powerful God of the universe. Gratefully, He has not left us in darkness. His Word has given us very clear directions for most areas of our lives. The original hearers of these opening words from Psalm 1 would have known that the instruction mentioned in verse 2 was in regards to the Old Testament Law. This includes the famous 10 Commandments as well as many very specific guidelines for how to worship God, how to treat His people, and how to interact with the nations around them.
The Psalms start out with a parallel comparison and contrast between those who walk/stand/sit with the wicked/sinners/mockers, and those who don’t. The contrast is especially seen in verse 2, with the mention of the Lord’s instruction. Without it, these verses would not make sense. Because in order for there to be a wrong, there must be a right. For something to be out of bounds, there must be a boundary.
God has been so good to us to give us instructions, and you and I have much more than the OT to go off of. We now have the full counsel of God at our fingertips. Not only that, but we live in an age of information in which commentaries and many other tools are easily accessible to us. There is no excuse for not knowing what God’s plan is for us. From how we spend our money, conduct our days, and manage our thought-life, to how we worship, talk to, and tell others about Him. His will has been made clear to us in the pages of Scripture.
This is not to say that understanding everything in the Bible is easy. It’s not. But it is available, accessible, and approachable. He is not a distant, grumpy co-worker grumbling behind our backs about how offended He is by our actions. He is a clear communicator, a gracious guide, and a merciful master. And every one of His commands is for our good. Each truth is there to light our way.