Sitting with Psalm 73

Chairs

God, we need to sit a little while, in your presence, to be reminded that You are real…

that you are sovereign.

that you see.

that you know.

Certainly, there is the very real sense that you are omnipresent, and so we are always in your presence.  Or, put much more selfishly, you are always in our world.  You are, after all….

all-knowing.

all-wisdom.

all-everything.

We are not alone, even in our most loneliness-ness, because you will never forsake us.

You will not abandon.  You will not throw us away.

But, sometimes God, it is us who abandon you.

It doesn’t even have to be some huge, grand decision to leave our belief in you and our beliefs (the correct ones) about you in the dust.

No, sometimes it comes upon us with much more stealth…

we get busy.

we become anxious.

we become bitingly cynical.

we become tired.

we even become happy, sometimes, with our “success” and the smorgasbord the word presents us.

And, we forget you are there.  We forget that what John Greenleaf Whittier said, is truth:

Before us, even as behind, God is…..

And so, God, tonight, we need to sit with you awhile.  In your presence.  No huge study, no commentaries, no apologetics, no huge revelations, no answers.

Just your presence.

To sit in your presence is to acknowledge that the words found in Psalm 73:23-28 are truth:

27 For behold, those who are far from you shall perish;
    you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.
28 But for me it is good to be near God;
    I have made the Lord God my refuge,
    that I may tell of all your works.

It’s knowing that, even when I foolishly choose to not sit in your presence, you are still continually with me.  It’s knowing that you guide me with your counsel–your all-wisdom counsel.

It’s knowing that, there will be a day.  A home-going day.

It’s knowing that John 6:68 and Psalm 73:25 confirm each other.  Interpret each other.  Peter’s words of, essentially, “What other choice is there?  You have the words of eternal life…” resonate with the words here in Psalm 73:25—Who else do I have, God?  No one.  Only You.  You will not abandon.  You will not forsake.

It’s knowing that even on nights when the weariness is bone-deep from the responsibilities of parenting and work and to-do-lists and caring for others, you are my strength to get up and do it all again tomorrow.

It’s knowing that when the weariness is soul-deep from so-much, you are also the strength of my heart.

It’s also recognizing the rightful place of fear in verse 27–those far from you, shall perish.  God, help me to know your salvation.

So, grant me the grace to sit here, for a few moments, in your presence.  To settle.  Because it is grace.  To know, at the core of both mind and soul….

that you are real

that you are here.

that you are near.

I think this rendering of the thoughts in verse 28, sum it up best:

But as for me, the nearness of God is my good…

Your nearness–your presence, is my good.

Whom have I in heaven but you?

God, to whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life.

Revival and John 6:68

Tonight, post our revival service with Matt Wilkins, I find myself a bit bewildered.  While I missed the first part of Matt’s sermon, I did catch the last half.

At one point, Matt used one of the most important verses to me in all of scripture:  John 6:68.  Let me back up:

Jesus had been teaching hard things.  Hard things to understand.  Hard things to stomach.  Hard things to let soak into the very fiber of his listeners, with the potential to change everything they knew about life as they had lived it to that point.

In what might not be a very surprising move, we see in verse 66 some of his follower’s reactions:

66 fAfter this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

Jesus then turns to his 12 apostles and asks them:  “Do you want to go away as well?”

Peter—quick to speak Peter, first to jump Peter–answers in verse 68: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have hthe words of eternal life,”

What does this have to do with revival?  The answer to this question is just beyond my realm of available thinking tonight.  I can almost grasp it, but not quite.  I’m not sure why.  Maybe it is the fact that Peter has come to the realization, the conclusion, that he has no other choice.  He has no more plans.  His plans are destroyed–where else does he have to go, but to Jesus, who has the words of eternal life?

So maybe that is how John 6:68 is connected to revival.  A realization that there is no where else to go.  A realization that any other plan apart from Jesus leads to death.  An acknowledgement that a reviving to life only comes through Christ’s words that contain eternal life.

These are hard things for me to process tonight.  Like I said, I find myself a bit bewildered and not thinking as clearly as possible due to some intense pain I am fighting.  I pray for sleep, for hope, and honestly for revival to get up again tomorrow morning and try again, knowing that my plans are futile, and where else am I going to go, except to the one who has the words of eternal life?

When I Don’t Know What to Do: 2nd Chronicles 2:12

Several months ago I came across a verse on a blog that I follow, that I had never seen before.  The author of the blog titled the verse “A Practical Prayer for Many Situations That I Find Myself In”.

The verse is 2nd Chronicles 2:12.  You’ll want to look it up to read the entire verse, but the part that stands out is the cry “O our God…..we do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

How many times do I find myself in that exact same spot, where I am at a complete and utter loss as to what to do?  Sadly, so often when I reach that point, that bewildering place, I do not pray these words here.  No, instead I try to reason it out, I try to think it through, I try on my own to develop a plan.  Shelly always has a plan.  If I just think hard enough, if I just try long enough, if I can just do this or do that, I’ll figure out what is next.

What must God think in those moments that I deliberately refuse to put my eyes on Him?

The last several months, if I were to be completely honest, place me right there:  right on the edge, the precipice of knowing not what to do.  Life is beyond me, all control of my life-what I have known life to be-has been wrested out of my hands, similarly to Job.  And yet in my stubbornness and pride, I still find it difficult to turn to my God and say the words in John 6:68:  “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life.”  Or, as 2nd Chronicles 2:20 expresses it—-I don’t know what to do, but my eyes are on you God.  Help me.  Show me.

Tonight one of the songs being sung at worship is Tommy Walker’s “When I Don’t Know What to Do”. I remember listening to that song over and over and over again in the days directly after my life as I knew it collapsed.  I was fortunate enough to be in Hawaii at the time, and I would walk for hours, listening to this song over and over and over again on my Ipod, studying the sky, the ocean, because I didn’t know what to do.

But I’ve gotten away from coming honestly before my God and pleading these words to him:

When I don’t know what to do, I’ll raise my hands
When I don’t know what to say, I’ll speak your praise
When I don’t know where to go, I’ll run—-not walk—-to your throne.

O, even now, even tonight, I don’t know what to do, but to try to place my eyes on my God.

When I Don’t Know What To Do
By Tommy Walker
Lord I surrender all 
To Your strong and faithful hand 
In everything I will give thanks to You 
I’ll just trust Your perfect plan
Chorus
When I don’t know what to do
I’ll lift my hands
When I don’t know what to say
I’ll speak Your praise
When I don’t know where to go
I’ll run to Your throne
When I don’t know what to think
I’ll stand on Your truth 
When I don’t know what to do

Lord I surrender all 
Though I’ll never understand 
All the mysteries around me 
I’ll just trust your perfect plan

Bridge
As I bow my knee 
Send Your perfect peace 
Send Your perfect peace Lord
As I lift my hands 
Let Your healing come 
Let Your healing come to me

Ending Vamp
Lord I love You 
Lord I trust You 
Lord I lift my hands to you

Neglect…..

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve turned to my blog in order to sort out my thoughts on any subject.


I’m not sure why, but I’ve entered a realm where I am tired of thinking.  My mind is not sharp, it is quite dull.  But I’ll post a story here from recent weeks:


I have been receiving several documents in the mail as of late, in preparation for an upcoming court hearing.  I’m being sued by a lawyer for the legal fees incurred by my husband.  Since he is incarcerated (I think that is the first time I’ve shared that on this blog) and will remain there for another 13 years or so, his guardian ad litem (court appointed attorney in the civil case, not his criminal case) is seeking payment of the legal fees.  My lawyer is pretty confident that the judge will rule that the state will pay the fees as opposed to me paying them.


All that to say, as a result, my mailbox has been receiving a renewed onslaught of legal documents.


The latest was a notification from my lawyer to the other lawyer, acknowledging the date set for the hearing.  Pretty standard stuff, except for this time the wording caught my eye:


“And the defendant will ever pray, etc”


That was the closing line of this newest document.  The defendant will ever pray.  Now, I understand that this is legal terminology, that history has dictated in the formal respect driven world of law.  But those words made me pause and think:


Defendant refers to “the party against which an action is brought”, acccording to the American Heritage Dictionary.  An action has been brought against me.  It reminds me of Psalms, so many of them, where the author of the Psalms pleas with God to protect him from those who would bring an action against the author.  I am a defendant.  But not just in this civil case, I am a defendant in this world.  This is not home, this existence on earth.  How I long for home.


“And the defendant will ever pray, etc.”
Legal jargon yes.  However, it caused me to examine my mind and soul and to reconsider prayer, real prayer.  This sentence does not say that I might pray.  It does not say that I should pray.  It says that I, the defendant, will EVER pray.  Difficult English to understand, maybe.  But I take it to mean that the defendant will continually pray.  What other choice is there?  There is none.  Unceasing prayer.  1 Thessalonians 5:17.


Do I continually pray?  No, far from it.  Do I need to be continually praying–O yes, because where else do I have to go?  What other options lead to sanity, to peace, to direction, except through prayer, the catalyst for relationship to God.  It’s the stuff John 6:68 is made of–To whom shall I go except to Jesus?  Because He has the words of eternal life.  I do not.  I do not.


I mostly am writing this story, so as to preach it to myself.  Tonight I do not feel well.  Tomorrow is another long day away from my kids, working all day.  I, the defendant, need to ever pray, etc.  And that etc.?  My personal et cetera must incorporate scripture work, must incorporate quiet time alone to pray, to write, to think, to study, and to pray again.  I have neglected these things as of late, out of fatigue.  But they must take priority, if this defendant, by the grace of God, is going to survive.