Sep 13, 2012

A Day In Psalms

I have made it a habit over the past several years to read Psalms and Proverbs through every month. This means 5 Psalms a day to get through in 30 days. So today I started on Psalm 13, then counted out 30 and read Psalm 43, then Psalm 73, and so on. It's quite a nice system.

The Psalms always seem to follow a common theme, and, more often then not, they tend to be exactly what I need to hear for the day. Today was no exception.  The week has been a bit frustrating, there are several confusing questions that God has yet to answer, I'm waiting on some direction, and then to top it all off I had some discouraging situations arise.

I came home - tired and lonely - and determined to try to get some answers.  I grabbed my Bible and a flashlight and ran to my hidden spot in the backyard where I could cry if I needed.  Opening to Psalm 13 I read:

"O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way?
How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long will my enemy have the upper hand?
Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.
Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall.
But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me."

Oh, how I could relate to David's distress! But the last part got under my skin. WHY suddenly is David breaking out in joyful songs. What happened in the middle of writing that Psalm that change his entire outlook?  I am envious. But a bit confused too...

I moved on to chapter 43:

For you are God, my only safe haven. Why have you tossed me aside?
Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?
Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me.
Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live.
There I will go to the altar of God, to God—the source of all my joy.
I will praise you with my harp, O God, my God!
Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!

There it was again. David, like myself, was searching for answers...for guidance. Suffering because he felt as though God had deserted him. Am I not in the same place. Don't I feel as thought God has maybe forgotten that I am still in need of answers?  But, again, David changes his mood midstream and begins to praise. What happened? I wish I could go back in time to be there, right in that room, listening to David's agony, but then finding out the source of his transformation into joy and trust. It was getting under my skin now...

I cried a few tears of frustration (10 minutes worth or so) then pushed aside my struggle to read on. Psalm 73:

Truly God is good to Israel, to such as are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled; my steps had nearly slipped.
For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm.
They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men.
Therefore pride serves as their necklace...

Ah, again I could relate. I had envied, today, the people that could do whatever they wanted. Enjoy life, have fun. Those who did not have the burden of obedience. Yes, I am ashamed, I was envious of those who could have fun without worrying about righteousness or wisdom.  I was sick of struggle...of fire...of trouble and pain and self-sacrifice and laying aside my will all the time. I wanted to do my thing my way if God wasn't going to give me my answers...or at least that's how I felt until I read further.

When I thought how to understand this, it was too painful for me—Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood their end.
Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction.
Oh, how they are brought to desolation, as in a moment! They are utterly consumed with terrors.
As a dream when one awakes, so, Lord, when You awake, You shall despise their image.
Thus my heart was grieved, and I was vexed in my mind. I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You; You hold me by my right hand. You will guide me with Your counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish; You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God; I have put my trust in the Lord GOD, that I may declare all Your works.

The truth hit my brain like a shaft of light. David's questions were all answered. Not by whining and complaining or getting frustrated, but by turning his eyes from the question to look at the Solution. Suddenly all the questions - when put in an eternal perspective - were taken care of.  "It is good for me to draw near to God." THERE. That is how David was able to change his attitude. He took his questions and problems, gathered them up, carried them to the Throne Room and handed them to His God. "My heart and flesh fail..." He knew it. I know it. God knows it. "...but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever..." I don't understand how He does it, it's a great mystery. But somehow, when David drew close to God, He changed his outlook. He changed his attitude. He took the worries that were piled up like mountains around David, and He diminished them until it was like David didn't even remember what he was fretting over. Intriguing.

I tried it. I drew near to God...then nearer...nearer...then even more near. I spent time there. I didn't hurry away, I just sat and considered HIM. His character. His nature. The things He's done. The things He has said. Oh, yes, I did ask my questions - or, at least, I tried. I started to whine and it just seemed out of place next to His grandeur. The problems were too little to catch my attention now. I was enthralled. I couldn't keep my mind on the problem long enough to fret over it. I kept getting distracted by the beauty of Christ. I didn't WANT discouragement any more. I wanted God. I wanted joy, and adoration, and love, and trust, and to glory in His unending faithfulness. I wanted to sing and then maybe dance a little. I wanted to praise and worship and bow down and cry, "Holy!" with all the angels. That's what I wanted. So that's what I did.

I don't remember where I left my worries. I must have dropped them somewhere in the Presence of God. I don't have time to stop to search for them now...


Offset said...

Last year I devoted the three summer months strictly to the Psalms - it was pretty incredible. I can absolutely relate to the emotions/joy/highs/lows you encounter as you go through them. Keep it up!

Lisa Fox said...

Thanks for reading!

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