Reflections On Psalm 4

IMG_0910

Somehow, I imagined I would’ve gotten over the sting of my fears by now. I imagined age and wisdom would make me less fearful. Maybe I’ve outgrown the fears of my youth and I guess I’m more fearless than I used to be, but in all honesty, I still battle fear.

I just have different fears now, is all.

Maybe they don’t come to me in the same way and with the same intensity, but they still come. Sometimes they creep in, like a spider. They start making webs in the corners of my heart. If I don’t keep dusting them with feathers of Truth, I might just end up stuck in the web.

I always thought the longer I walk with God and the more I experience His hand at work in my life, my faith would grow so strong I’d never fear again, but I’ve figured something out in my later years…

Sometimes, fears surface most when I don’t enjoy God enough.

The fears I have now are fears that have come with age…new fears…different fears…like the fear of losing a job…fear of financial decay…fear of a major medical emergency that could bankrupt us…fear of growing old without my husband by my side…

because we recently lost our medical insurance and our new insurance isn’t nearly as nice as before…because as our bodies age we develop new health issues we’ve never had before…because there are new costs of living, including new healthcare costs…

…because it all seems such a mess and I don’t know how in the world anybody anywhere can fix it. It’s like a web that keeps growing and growing and growing.

And sometimes I feel trapped. Stuck. Fearful.

I’m just being honest, but I know I’m not alone. Yes, these are the new fears, the different fears I now lay before the throne of grace. 

There’s such a relief that comes to my soul and spirit when I do all I can to meditate on God and His unchanging character all day long, especially the last thing before I go to bed at night. Cause, hey, who doesn’t need a good night’s sleep? I mean, thinking about God is a whole lot better than thinking about my fears. He has this really crazy way of making me smile. Without realizing it, I’m experiencing the joy-thing.

A gladness, to be exact. This is one of those words I love. It means gaiety, mirth, delight…

Seriously, who couldn’t use some gaiety? Some mirth? Some delight? And who could fear when there’s such joy as this to be found in the Lord?!?

This gladness only comes from living in the light of His presence, by focusing–thinking, meditating–on His goodness

When I focus on what’s vain–things that are worthless, things that are deceitful, things that won’t last–I’ll more often than not focus on fear. No doubt about it. And I do NOT want to be a slave to fear. I don’t want to love what God doesn’t love and fear is the opposite of love. Because fear doesn’t trust.

Instead of getting stuck in the web of deceit–the lie that God cannot keep me safe, cannot deliver me, cannot shower me with lovingkindness–I can focus on His constant nearness, His consistent goodness, His continual gladness.

I can put my head on my pillow at night and rest, safe and secure.

That’s where I long to get stuck. Where I long to dwell. Where I want to rest my head.

That’s my happy place. Not in a web, but a bed.

A bed of stillness, of peace.

I don’t know, but the older I get the more I need my beauty sleep and I kinda like the idea of falling asleep with some mirth in my heart. Who knows? Maybe I even sleep with a smile on my face.

“Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have relieved me in my distress; Be gracious to me and hear my prayer. verse 1

How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah. verse 2b

Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. verse 4b

Offer the sacrifices of righteousness and trust in the Lord. verse 5 

Many are saying, ‘Who will show us any good?’ Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord! verse 6

You have put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. verse 7

In peace I will both lie down and sleep, For You alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.” verse 8, Psalm 4 

Reflections On Psalm 3

IMG_0108Several weeks ago we had an ice storm. Much of the mideast received tons and tons of snow. Or ice. I’d rather have the snow. You can’t shovel ice.

It was pretty perilous just getting in and out of our house. We have 3 dogs and they don’t even like going out in it. My poor little miniature chihuahua had to be carried up and down the steps and then out to a little place we had carved out under a tree where she could “do her business.” Her poor, tiny paws just couldn’t handle the cold. God bless her.

IMG_1592(This is me and my cocker spaniel-poodle mix in last winter’s ice storm.)

But what really broke my heart was the way the ice damaged our trees. Our backyard looked like a war zone. Both river birches took quite a beating.

I love river birches. I love their crazy, curly bark that peels and sheds all over the place. I love the way their branches grow fine and feathery, swaying in the breeze with grace and gentility. I don’t live near the river, but if I did, I’d have a million of them.

Both of our birches lost big branches that grew out from the center trunk. The ice snapped them right off. All of the branches seemed to bend so dangerously low to the ground that I’m surprised they survived. They looked weighed down. Weary. Weak.

I really don’t think river birches are built to handle ice. They live happily beside river beds and thrive on the sounds of rushing streams, but they don’t like it when their water supply is harsh and unforgiving.

Sometimes…I am just like the river birch. I don’t thrive well in harsh and unforgiving seasons. Like this fragile tree-with it’s wispy branches and beautiful bark-that can’t sustain the weight of ice, I find heavy burdens and difficult seasons leave me with a head bowed low and shoulders that slump.

At least, that’s how I feel deep down in my soul. Weighed down. Weary. Weak.

And, yet, just when I think I can’t handle any more weight, the sun comes out. Temperatures rise and the ice melts. My fine, feathery branches lift and spring back to life. I start to sway in the breeze again, thriving on rushing streams of God’s grace because…

He is the Lifter-Of-My-Head. He is a shield about me. He sustains me through the storms of life. He gives me courage, boldness, and confidence to wait out the storm.

When the ice is at it’s thickest, I may not think I’ll survive, but I always do.

When I’m weighed down by heavy burdens, I may think I’ll never stand tall again, but I always do.

When my head bows low and my shoulders slump, I may think I’ll never see blue skies again, but I always do.

I may lose a branch or two in the harshness of life, but I’ll never lose the part of me that’s His…The Lifter-Of-My-Head will always have my heart.

And my spirit finds rest in that.

“But You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory, and the One who lifts my head.

I was crying to the Lord with my voice, And He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah.

I lay down and slept; I awoke, for the Lord sustains me.” Psalm 3:3-5 IMG_0106