January 04, 2023
How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself; the Lord hears when I call to Him. (Psalm 4:2-3)
I’ve been sitting at the bedside of a great man in our church these last few days. He was always a good man, but for many years he didn’t pursue the Lord with all his heart. He would tell you that he loved many worthless things and that there was a core of deception in his life.
Over a decade ago, he came to the end of himself. I don’t know how to describe it, but something dramatically changed. He saw the worthlessness of pursuing anything other than Christ. He learned how any deception about his sin would destroy his intimacy with Jesus and became ruthlessly honest and transparent. He quit playing games. He shared his story, with all of its rawness, with other men. And he became a godly man. Not perfect, but he has lived a thoroughly Godward life. He is all in.
God uniquely sets apart unto Himself those who pursue Him relentlessly. This is what God has done for my friend. And all the things David found true, and wrote about in Psalm 4, became true of my friend’s life. These things illustrate how “the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself.”
God hears a godly man’s prayers.
“The Lord hears when I call Him” (Ps. 4:3)
My friend prays. Not the stagnant, ritualistic prayers of a lukewarm Christian but the “effective prayers of a righteous man that accomplish much.” He agonized for the lives of men. He prayed over parking lots and pews and people. This is why in the last years, he has seen hundreds of men set free into the same godliness he experienced. He led them there by a prayer-driven life. Prayer can do anything God can do, and the Lord lets a wholehearted, pursuing man see this reality and find this power.
God lights a godly man with His countenance.
Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord! (Ps. 4:6)
When I look at my friend, I see Christ. God turns His face away from those who turn their faces away from Him. But for those who look to Jesus, the stunning light of God’s face shines upon them. They radiate Christ. We see Christ in the kindness of their eyes, the warmth of their knowing smiles, their ears bent to heaven, and their tongues that cannot help but speak of what they’ve seen and heard.
There are some who try to convince you of Christ with persuasive words of clever speech. They talk of Christ, but their lives do not show Him. There are other men who do not have to explain God. They reflect God’s countenance because God is looking upon them, and it is undeniable.
God puts gladness in a godly man’s heart.
“You have put gladness in my heart” (Ps. 4:7)
There is no gladness like that which is gained in God’s presence. “In Your presence is fullness of joy and in Your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” David said. (Ps. 16:11)
My friend had sought happiness in all the wrong places for a long time. But like C.S. Lewis, he came to see that it can be found in only one place.
What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could “be like gods”—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.
God made us: invented us as a man invents an engine. A car is made to run on petrol, and it would not run properly on anything else. Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other. That is why it is just no good asking God to make us happy in our own way without bothering about religion. God cannot give us a happiness and peace apart from Himself, because it is not there. There is no such thing. (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity)
God sets peace and security around a godly man’s life.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety. (Ps 4:8)
The peace that had eluded my friend for years has been his in these last years. For three long years, he has suffered from an excruciating, debilitating disease. But my observation is that not many men I know have such peace. Real peace. Authentic peace.
I’ve been at my friend’s bedside because some would say he’s “dying.” But that is not true. Though the outer man is decaying, the inner man is being renewed hour by hour. He is weaker outwardly but stronger inwardly. His earthly demise is nothing less than the shedding of a constricting cocoon as he is changed into the glory of the Lord, from glory to greater glory. Barring another miracle in his physical life (which would not surprise me), He will soon see Christ face to face.
But my friend, Brent Wakefield, will never die, for the Lord has set apart this godly man for Himself.
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