In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever! (Psalm 44:8)
I recently saw a bumper sticker that read, “It’s not about the miles you’ve covered…it’s about the memories you’ve collected.” The sticker featured the symbol of a hiker on one side, and it was proudly and prominently displayed on the tailgate of a well-travelled, white Subaru in the parking lot near the trailhead. The vehicle, and presumably its owner, had obviously covered a whole lot of miles, but they wanted me to know that it was the memories that mattered most in life.
I like that idea! In fact, I went and looked it up. It likely comes from a line from one of Louis L’Amour’s books, where the novelist observes of his fellow adventurers on the trail, “Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen.”
It got me thinking, what is it about my life’s journey that is worth boasting about?
We all have things that we’re proud of. We might be proud of the career we’ve had or the wealth we’ve accumulated; we might brag on our kids or grandkids whenever anyone will listen; we may even want to boast about our great church or our fantastic pastor! Of course, each of our stories is also full of things that we aren’t very proud of—things that we don’t care to remember or highlight. So naturally we want to talk up the things that make our stories worth telling…things that make our lives worth living.
So, what kinds of things in your own life do you consider “boast-worthy?”
In Psalm 44, the song-writer does a little bragging of his own, but his boast isn’t about what he has done or the things he’s accumulated. It’s not about how great his country is, or how upstanding he is, or how superior his religion is. Rather, it is “In God we make our boast all day long.” (Ps. 44:8)
Nothing he has or does warrants anyone’s attention. Only God! It was God who drove out other nations and made his ancestors flourish in the Promised Land (vs. 2); this was accomplished by God’s strength, by the light of God’s face, and because of the depth of God’s love (vs. 3). God is the King who brings victory, safety and prosperity to His people (vs. 4-7). God is the only thing worth bragging about. Instead of taking pride in their journey, the writer of Psalm 44 encourages his people to boast boldly in their Guardian and Guide along the path.
The remainder of Psalm 44 is a lament, reflecting on what that journey is like when our Guard and Guide seems far away. You see, when things are going well we might be tempted to boast in ourselves; but when the journey is tough, a wise disciple turns her attention upward. She learns that whatever our circumstances may be, we would do well to remember our constant need of a boast-worthy God.
We all need to boast about something.
Writing about the same time, the prophet Jeremiah conveys God’s own words that sum up our need to brag on Him:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
The apostle Paul echoes Jeremiah’s words twice in his letters to the Corinthians. Specifically, he encourages believers everywhere and always to boast “in the hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-5) and “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 6:14) Boasting boldly is not only OK, it’s what we’re made to do! It is our humble act of worship and our faithful testimony of the Gospel Good News! So we don’t just boast in the miles we’ve covered; we boast in the memories of grace we have received.
God’s message is clear throughout the Bible: hope doesn’t come from anything we’ve done or anything we can do—it comes from God’s deep love and desire for us, demonstrated completely by Jesus’ death and resurrection. That is the “real life” we find in Jesus Christ; it’s the real life we celebrate in community; it’s the real life we share with everyone around us.
“How deep the Father’s love for us, how vast beyond all measure, that He would give His only Son to make a wretch His treasure. I will not boast in anything—no gifts, no power, no wisdom—but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.” (How Deep the Father’s Love, by Stuart Townend)
Stay thirsty, my friends.