Summary: Psalm 79 is a lament psalm that teaches us how to take our questions to God in times of suffering.
The Cry of a Wounded Warrior
A. In his book The Barbarian Way Erwin McManus uses the illustration of Robert the Bruce to speak of our calling to be warriors in this world.
He says Robert the Bruce was a Scottish noble that rose up to lead Scotland to freedom after the execution of William Wallace.
Shortly before his death, Robert the Bruce requested that his heart be removed from his body and taken on crusade by a worthy knight. James Douglas, one of his closest friends, was at his bedside when he died in 1329. Douglas took on the responsibility … he embalmed the heart and placed it in a small container that he wore around his neck. In every battle that Douglas fought, he literally carried the heart of his king pressed against his chest.
In the early spring of 1330, Douglas sailed from Scotland to Granada, Spain, and engaged in a campaign against the Moors. In an ill-fated battle, Douglas found himself surrounded and in this situation capture was imminent and death was certain. In that moment Douglas reached fro the heart strapped around his neck, flung it into the enemy’s midst and cried out, “FIGHT FOR THE HEART OF YOUR KING”.
B. Although anyone who understands the heart of God knows that the Crusades were a tragic lesson in missing the point, the power of the story reminds us of the battle we find ourselves in.
To belong to God is to belong to his heart. If we have responded to the call of Jesus to follow him and participate in God’s chosen fast as we noticed in Isaiah 58 last week, then we are called to FIGHT FOR THE HEART OF OUR KING.
The invitation of Jesus is a revolutionary call to fight for the heart of humanity. We are called to an unconventional war using only the weapons of faith, hope and love. Nevertheless, this is no less dangerous than any war that every fought.
For those of us who have been in the battle for any length of time knows that it is easy to go from being BRAVEHEART TO GRAVEHEART. It is easy to lose heart and give up when we are wounded.
C. The Apostle Peter stepped forward to accept the call of a warrior. He wore the King’s heart around his neck, or so he thought. Longing to follow Jesus even to death he declared, “Lord, I will lay down my life for you” (JN 13:37) .
Jesus was realistic about Peter’s intentions and limitations. Jesus simple response was, “will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows you will disown me three times.” (Matthew 26:31-35)
What happened? PETER THE BRAVE HEART TURNED INTO PETER THE GRAVE HEART. His courage was buried in fear, frustration and failure.
We will learn more about Peter in the weeks ahead. Next Sunday we will start a short series entitled Pilgrims in Progress (learning from the life of Peter).
D. Today, we want to affirm that Peter has a lot of company. We have all gone from Brave Heart to Grave Heart. We have all been in a position where we feel we have been buried alive.
There are many different problems that can turn the heart from glad to sad.
Sometimes it is physical illness. I walked into Hillcrest Hospital ICU on Thursday and I heard a cry that could not be silenced. It was not audible but was written on the faces of the nurses and engraved on the portrait of a warrior who is fighting his last battle. I am sorry to say this warrior is our good friend Pastor Reggie Bailey. As you know he has been fighting health problems over the last nine months. We have been in prayer while continuing mutual outreach projects with Anointed Gates Church. We hoped for the best. Our elders went over to Reggie’s a couple of months ago to pray over him. The tumor that was removed months ago is back and there is nothing they can do about it. Pastor Reggie has been wasting away over the last couple of months. There are times when warriors weep. It is the cry of our hearts that binds us together as fellow soldiers in the cause of Christ.
Sometimes it is a relational breakdown. A man and woman that were madly in love with each other are going their separate ways. Many years of joy and now filled with sadness.
Sometime it is a financial problem. A man or woman have given the best years of their career to a company only to be let go because of age.
Sometimes it is troubled teen. Our sons and daughters are going down the wrong path, making the wrong choices or choosing the wrong friends.