Faith & Insight: Escaping déjà vu

Don Baumann

Don Baumann

We’ve all experienced what Yogi Berra, famous catcher, philosopher, and wisecracker once described in his humorous redundancy, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.”
We anticipate pleasant repetitions: that’s why we often vacation in the same places and with the same people. But what about those times when we make the same poor choices we vowed never to revisit? When we hurt those we love with an unkind word or thoughtless action; when we do what we know is wrong: we dread these reprises of the past.
We find our only escape from the hamster wheel of past foolishness through a relationship with the living God. Psalm 130 is a prayer: each verse points us closer toward God and the freedom he alone affords.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord;
Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.” (Psalm 130:1-2 NIV)
The psalm writer cries out to God, as we often do, from a starting point of desperation. We certainly don’t have to “clean ourselves up” before speaking to God: He’s ready to listen anytime. Are we ready to change?
“If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.” (vv 3-4)
Although God is almighty, he is not waiting to squash anyone who steps out of line. In fact, a relationship with God begins when we realize that Jesus Christ, God’s only son, volunteered to pay the price for our sins through his death on the cross. We receive forgiveness and new life not so we can squander these gifts by repeating bad behaviors. Through him alone we can break habits and change actions – since we have been made new people through faith in Jesus.
I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
and in his word, I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning. (vv 5-6)
The psalm writer directs us to act in ways that may seem odd to us: by waiting and hoping. In our culture, we wait with a growing sense of frustration; we hope with a pessimistic expectation of disappointment. Waiting on God means eagerly expecting him to act; hoping in God and his word means being assured that what he says will come to pass.
A watchman kept a city safe throughout the night. Morning meant refreshment, the end of a long, arduous alertness. God will bring about change, breaking those longstanding negative habits, as we wait expectantly and hope in his certain promises.
Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins. (vv 7-8)
Through God’s kindness we can live new, changed lives: we can avoid the dreaded déjà vu and instead repeat behaviors that bring joy to us and others.
Don Baumann is a retired outreach pastor at Hilltop Community Church.


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