It’s not my intention for this post to make people jealous, but I realize that it’s possible. In fact, it’s highly likely. I guess I’m OK with that (secretly, maybe VERY OK #sorrynotsorry).
Vin Scully is a Los Angeles civic treasure. His retirement this year, after 67 years as the announcer of the Dodgers, made grown men cry (nope, not me, I’m tough). To this day, his voice takes me back to warm summer nights when I was 8 or 9 years old, listening to him paint the sights and sounds of Dodger baseball on the canvas of my mind.
Vin has long been a topic of conversation among Dodger fans. He is universally admired, probably the most popular public figure in the city. Everyone seemed to have a story about him.
I was invited one day in 2014 to meet Vin in the press box at Dodger Stadium (yeah, it pays to know people). After years of telling others how often I was lulled to sleep by his legendary voice coming from the transistor radio in a stuffed tiger on my bed, I finally had the opportunity to thank the man behind the voice. It was an unforgettable moment with a very gracious man.
It was great to talk ABOUT Vin Scully. But it was even better to talk TO him.
This distinction is an important but sometimes overlooked part of what may be the most famous passage in all of the Bible. King David knew the difference between ABOUT and TO, and he built it into Psalm 23.
“The Lord is my Shepherd… He makes me lie down … He leads me … He guides me.” As Phillip Keller tells it in A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, these early verses describe the way a satisfied sheep in the flock of God might describe his Shepherd. The Lord is admired, He is praised, but He is not addressed.
There is a subtle but significant change in verse 4: “…You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me…” Do you see the change? The sheep is no longer talking ABOUT his Shepherd, but TO him. The Psalmist turns to the Lord Himself, praising Him directly instead of simply describing Him to others.
I’m glad that this wonderful Psalm includes both forms of praise. I’m glad that it inspires us to tell others about our Good Shepherd, to “proclaim (His) excellencies” (1 Peter 2:9). He is worth talking about, even bragging about, so others can admire Him too.
But I’m also glad that it reminds us to talk TO Him. It reminds us that He is there in the valley of the shadow of death, and that He gives us courage in the face of evil, refreshment in the presence of our enemies. It is good to tell Him how glad we are for His reassuring and comforting presence.
It is good to pray. Very, very good.
In The Great Divorce, his classic work about heaven and hell, C.S. Lewis laments that “there have been some who were so occupied in spreading Christianity that they never gave a second thought to Christ.”
Lord, protect me from the temptation to talk only ABOUT You. Draw me TO you, and make me hunger and thirst for that sweet conversation that lifts me out of my circumstances, and sets me to speaking freely and honestly and joyfully with the One who hears.
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