Reflections On Psalm 8

th-1

So…I was wondering…do you have a problem sometimes remembering that you are not God?

Can I just say, sometimes actions speak louder than words.

Cause if I’m going to be honest here, I certainly know I’m not God, but there are times when I sure try to play God. Like I gotta fix what I can’t fix and change what I can’t change or like I gotta get in people’s business and get in people’s heads.

It takes a lot of prayer to refrain from “sharing my wisdom” with my completely clever sons and “giving my advice” to my perfectly adept husband or “teaching my knowledge” to my totally savvy friends. (When they don’t ask, of course. If they ask, hey, that’s different.)

Most of the time, I have to remind myself that “listening” is better than “talking.” I tend to talk too much. (I gotta lot to say!!! Doesn’t everybody?!?)

Sometimes, I think God just shakes His head at me and says, “HellooOoo…remember Me?”

It never hurts to remind myself of the character of God.

It never hurts to remind myself I’m a little lower than God…

I’m down here. He’s up there.

Higher. Loftier. Above all things. Over all things. Wiser. Smarter. Excellent.

David reminds us twice in Psalm 8,

“O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”

How powerful. How great. How glorious. How mighty. How noble. How worthy.

How magnificent!!

I’m getting all excited just typing out those synonyms. Who doesn’t gain a proper perspective when considering the majesty of God? Who? I ask you.

David…somehow…always managed to bring himself out of a slump, out of depression, out of despair by focusing on God’s character. By giving God the praise that is due His great name.

Circumstances may change, but God never does. He can’t change. He’s incapable of changing.

He will always be great. Always be glorious. Always be mighty. Always be noble.

Always magnificent!

I think of David’s humble beginnings. The youngest son of Jesse. A shepherd. The lowliest of occupations. Yet, David rose to such prominence. He brought worship back to the hearts of God’s people.

Worship: the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity. Another way of saying, “giving someone his/her worth”.

For me, for those who love the Lord-the one true God, it’s giving Him praise and honor and glory. It’s adoration, exaltation, devotion. It’s to cherish Him, treasure Him, esteem Him. (And if I don’t stop, I’m gonna start bawling like a baby ’cause there’s just something about all this that stirs my soul.)

David, God bless him, just had a heart of worship, for worship. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if spending  so many nights under the starry sky, while he kept watch over his flock by night, developed an understanding and a knowledge about the greatness of God that few of us will ever truly grasp.

I know how I felt one morning several years ago at the beach. I woke up way too early for the sunrise. It was cold, but I decided to pass the time by lying on my back atop a grassy dune. I stared up into the heavens. The sky still so dark, but the stars still so bright. I stretched my arms out, palms up and I sang. Before I knew it, the stars began to rain down. One shooting star after another.

And the heavens declared the glory of God.

I’ll never forget it. I remind myself of it often.

How big God is. How small I am.

I imagine it’s how David felt, too. Night after night. Gazing into the heavens. He got a taste of God’s majesty.

And he was forever changed. His heart would never be the same. His heart would always want to be near the heart of God. His heart would always want to remember the worth of God. His heart just would not be satisfied if it did not worship.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained;

What is  man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him?

Yet You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty!” verses 4- 5

Alone with God, in the quiet and stillness of the night, David truly saw God. He considered, reflected, pondered, inspected, and He believed. He believed that God was real because He experienced God’s presence for himself.

Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world His (God’s) invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, that they (men) are without excuse.”

Yes. There’s enough evidence in all of Creation to stir our hearts toward God. There is enough proof for us to see. To know. To perceive. To consider.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that although God has given me much and created me to bring Him glory, I am still very small when compared with all of His vastness, His wideness, His deepness. I am still very weak when compared with all of His power, His might, His strength.

Without Him, I am nothing. I can do nothing. But with Him I can do much, according to His work within me. According to how much I give Him control.

And to think…He crowns me with glory and majesty! verse 5

Who am I, O God? Who am I?

Yes, I need Him very, very badly. And, yes, I tell Him so. All the time.

One of the hardest things, sometimes, is to worship God when I don’t feel like it. When I’m in a slump. When I’m feeling depressed. But, honestly, those are the times when I need to consider the character of God the most.

Because His wisdom, His knowledge, His advice is greater. Higher. Loftier. Above all things. Over all things. It never hurts to remind myself of His attributes. His eternal power. His divine nature.

It never hurts to remember the stars raining down on me.

Because in those precious moments with my God, I was so awed I was completely silent. Speechless. I had no words.

Listening was so much better than talking.

Because the heavens were saying it all, HellooOoo….remember Me?

Yep. It never hurts to remind myself…

Reflections On Psalm 7

IMG_2466

A few Saturdays ago I spoke at a church in my hometown back in Virginia, a church in the county where I grew up. It was like a happy family reunion. Friends of all ages were there, but these weren’t just ordinary friends.

These were the friends I played with as a child and the older friends who kept a close eye on me while I played with their children. These friends I huddled with in school hallways or assembled with in church pews. These friends laughed with me and cried with me, instructed me and admonished me, encouraged me and consoled me, but above all, they loved me. Real good.

I’m pretty sure they still do.

These are the kind of friends I’ll keep in my heart ’til the day I die.

Where in the world would I be without friends?!? How in the world could I have gotten through some of the toughest times in my life without my friends?!? I ask you.

How could any of us?

And yet, as many true and loyal friends I’ve been blessed to have in my life and as much as I would love to be loved by everyone, I know I’m not. I know there are people out there who just don’t like me. Maybe they haven’t told me to my face. Maybe they haven’t openly confessed it. Maybe they haven’t shown it in any way, shape or form. But, I’m pretty sure they’re there.

Sigh.

Tucked away in a safety deposit box of my memory bank is a time I was the victim of bullying. I’ve tucked it away as a reminder that not everyone in this world has a heart of sensitivity and compassion.

I can understand what it’s like to be “hated.”

I was in the seventh grade. I really don’t know why ‘this girl’ hated me. I don’t know why she just up one day and began following me around the halls, taunting me, calling me names, laughing in the face of her own hostility. I ignored and ignored and ignored her until one day I snapped. I twirled around and told her to STOP!!  But she only laughed some more.

I suspect my retaliation was exactly the response ‘this girl’ was looking for. Because the next day, as she followed behind me in the halls, laughing her wicked laugh, her intense dislike for me grew to physical aggression and she pushed me.

I remember my heart racing with fear, but still…I held my head high and I walked on.

One day my antagonizer took her aggression to the next level and physically kicked me. I’m thinking she was hoping for a fight in which she would prove her dominance.

What she failed to realize is that she kicked me right smack in front of the school office. It happened before the first bell rang, early in the morning, and the office was teaming with teachers, children, parents.

I don’t know what came over me, I can only hope it was righteous indignation, but I burst into that busy office and demanded to speak to the principal. The school receptionist, who was a member of my church, stopped what she was doing…as did everyone else…and asked, “Nina, What’s wrong?!”

I pointed to ‘this girl’ whose face registered shock that I had finally found my courage and said, “She kicked me! For no reason!!!” And with that, I burst into tears.

Although my aggressor never bothered me again after that, I still always wondered, “What did I ever do to make her hate me so?”

I honestly couldn’t come up with a reason. Although we grew up living in the same county and attending the same schools, we never spoke again. Ever.

But, I can still see her face.

David had a lot of enemies. Sometimes I’m sure he wondered, too. Wondered what he’d done to make some people hate him. I imagine those in high places have a lot of enemies, but I like to think that David did the best he could to be fair. To be honest. To be kind.

No, David wasn’t perfect. Far from it. But, he was a God-seeker and he strived to keep short accounts with God.

When his enemies came against him, I’d like to think he, too, asked the question, “What did I ever do to make them hate me so?”

Because David wanted to have a heart that was pure before God. If he had wronged someone, he wanted to make it right. If he had hurt someone, he wanted to know and he was willing to accept the consequences.

In Psalm 7, he tells God, “O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is injustice in my hands, If I have rewarded evil to my friend, Or have plundered him who without cause was my adversary, Let the enemy pursue my soul and overtake it: And let him trample my life down to the ground and lay my glory in the dust.” 

All through the psalms we see prayers lifted up to God for deliverance from the enemy. Deliverance from those who hate. Those who trample all over the lives of the innocent. Those who give no thought to the sanctity of the human heart.

When I wonder, “Why, Lord? Why are people so cruel?” I may not get an answer, but I get a prayer…

“O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; Save me from all those who pursue me, Or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver…Arise, O Lord, in Your anger; Lift up Yourself against the rage of my adversaries, And arouse Yourself for me; You have appointed judgment.” Verses 1-2 & 6

…because God is on my side. When I am innocent of wrongdoing and I don’t deserve someone’s hatred and wrath and rage, God is my Vindicator. My Judge. My Deliverer.

It’s a sin-sick world and many don’t know the love of my Jesus. All they know is hatred and rage. And who knows all the reasons why they hate? I could name a million of them, but I don’t have the time or the space.

All I know is…Jesus said in John 15: 18 & 19, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.”

With that, I will close. Because I really don’t know what else to say except maybe this…

I wonder, “Is ‘that girl’ I once considered an enemy still filled with hatred?” Maybe not for me, but for someone else.

Because I can still see her face and I pray she’s found the love of Jesus instead.

I’d like to think that if I knew her now, she wouldn’t be my enemy.

She’d be my friend.

 

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Courage When You Need It

This morning I posted a devotional on my Facebook Page, Reflection On The Word, and it dawned on me…why don’t I share those devotionals here on my blog, too?

So, if you’re interested, here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/reflectionontheword

Thanks for reading!
Grace,

Nina

God Will Never Give Up On Me!

IMG_1075Resurrection Sunday comes to me in tidal waves of mercy. Even though it’s almost impossible for me to reflect on the Crucifixion without feeling the shame and sorrow of what all my sin did to the Sunrise From On High (Luke 1:78 NASB), I canNOT help but rejoice when I reflect on the glorious light that poured forth from the tomb early in the morning on the day Jesus defeated sin and death once and for all.

Oh Sweet Jesus…how I absolutely need to remember that YOU are my Dayspring!

“And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways;

To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins, 

Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us,

To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:76-79 KJV

Dayspring; i.e. a rising light, dawn; by implication, the east; a.k.a daybreak, sunrise, dawn, morning. A. New. Day.

“This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope.

The Lord’s loving kindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22 & 23

Who doesn’t love a sunrise? Who doesn’t experience a flutter in the heart when looking to the east at the break of dawn? Who doesn’t take a pause to marvel at the wonder of God’s infinite beauty and to appreciate His unlimited creativity?

For no two sunrises are ever the same.

Only the Sunrise From On High knows that from within this heart of mine is the potential for something more. Something new. Something worth resurrecting.

I’ve been pondering John 21 this morning. I never get tired of reading how Jesus appeared to His disciples at the Sea of Galilee after His resurrection.

I don’t know…maybe I just have all the feels for this band of fishermen. Just about every single one of them, except for John, had failed Jesus miserably at the moment when He needed them the most. They ran. They deserted Him. Peter even denied Him.

And, yet, even though they failed, Jesus still came to them.

Please take note of this: The Resurrected Jesus came to them.

Oh Yes! He came to resurrect their hopes. Their dreams. Their need for restoration.

The tears are welling up in my eyes as I type this because I know in my heart there have been times when I, too, have failed my Savior. And, if I’m to be completely honest here, there’ve been times when I’ve felt just like the disciples…that my failures have disqualified me from ever being used by God again.

But, hallelujah, Jesus is all about “out with old, in with the new!”

Those times when I messed up pretty bad, I honestly thought the only thing I could do was go back to what I’d always done before because I wouldn’t be good enough for anything else. I honestly thought I just needed to go back to what was comfortable.

Maybe I thought by “going back” I could recapture some sense of dignity, some sense of purpose, some sense of usefulness.

But, if I believe that resurrection is all about new,then I have to believe God can take all my messes, all my mistakes, all my failures and redeem them. He can restore dignity, renew purpose, and reshape usefulness.  And it’s most likely not going to look anything like the “before” picture.

Because God is in the business of making all things new.

That’s why I love reading how Jesus came to this motley crew of men, who didn’t know what to do with themselves after their “Big F” (failure with a capital F) but go back to the only thing they knew…fishing, and get them out of the boat and out of the water once and for all.

And you’ll never guess…Jesus came to them in all their doubts, all their insecurities, and all their uncertainties At. The. Break. Of. A. New. Day.

He came to them while they were in the boat in the middle of the water after a night of unproductive fishing and He stood on the shore “when the day was now breaking…”

How absolutely beautiful….the Sunrise From On High stood on the beach at sunrise…He came to them and He called to them.

To Jesus, they would never be failures and He was going to prove it to them. He told them to cast their nets on the opposite side of the boat and empty nets were filled to overflowing with the catch of their lives.

At the break of day, something new…something wonderful…something only Jesus could do…happened. Their eyes were opened when their nets were filled. These men who tried to replace the “F for failure” with an “F for fisherman” could not get to Jesus fast enough.

Peter, the one who needed assurance the most, jumped in the water and swam to shore. He stood before the One he’d pledged to die for dripping wet, failure on his mind, but hope in his heart. He saw the coals already hot waiting on the sandy beach and when Jesus issued the invitation to “Come and have breakfast…” Not. One. Of. Them. Refused.

OMGoodness…only Jesus can set a table that fills not only our stomachs but our empty souls, as well. Jesus had blessed their nets, but it wasn’t until He blessed their hearts that their thirst was truly quenched.

Jesus restored them. Every. Single. One. He gave them back the promise that with each new day there was the hope of living out a resurrected life. At the dawn of each new day He…Jesus, the Sunrise From On High…would always be waiting for them on the shoreline of their emptiness. He would always meet with them.

He would always come to them.

He would always call to them.

He would always fill them up.

And He would never give up on them. No matter what.

No two sunrises are ever the same. And thank the Lord for that!!

Because I don’t want to focus on my failures.

I want to focus on the hope that is mine in Christ Jesus and the dreams He has for me, whatever they may be. In His eyes, I will never be a failure. He will never give up on me.

And I don’t ever…EVER…want to forget my need for restoration. Or my need for a fresh new filling.

I AM a new creation and I’m so thankful that the Dayspring will always rise in my heart…

At. The. Break. Of. Each. New. Day.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Reflections On Psalm 6

17b0966a6ad218d3919a64df48c47e5b

The violins are playing a dirge…

And it’s not for a funeral. It’s for a man who is pining away. The music he hears in his head is mournful. And the words he hears in his heart are sorrowful. The two go together like tears and grief.

David wrote Psalm 6 for the eight stringed lyre. He wrote words to mock and composed music to taunt. Music to express sorrow. A sorrow that’s almost too hard to express because it comes from someplace deep.

Like the pit of the soul.

The place where sometimes there just aren’t any words. Only sounds.

Yet, somehow, David–this man whom God called “a man after His own heart”–always seemed to find the words. Somehow, he always managed to give God the raw emotions that threatened to eat him alive if he didn’t bring them to the surface.

I don’t know about any of you, but I can recall a season when I, too, was pining away. Far from God. Weak. Feeble. Head hanging down and heart drooping low. Bones disturbed and soul dismayed.

Sin does that. It affects the entire body, soul, and spirit.

This is what David is trying to tell us. He knows he’s messed up. He knows he’s done wrong. He knows he deserves God’s wrath.

But, David also knows his God. So he appeals to His Father’s mercy.

“O Lord, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your wrath. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am pining away; Heal me, O Lord, for my bones are dismayed. And my soul is greatly dismayed; But You, O Lord–how long? Return, O Lord, rescue my soul; Save me because of Your loving kindness.” Psalm 6:1-4

Even though it sounds like David feels abandoned by God, he still believes God is there. He still cries out to God. He still talks to God. He still believes God will listen. God will forgive. God will restore.

Because this he knows…

“The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished…” Exodus 34:6

For all of David’s messes, he still knew what it would take to get right with God.

I can’t help but wonder…the way David felt…for all his pining, all his sighing, all his groaning…I wonder…was it God Himself that he missed the most? Is that what made his heart so sick? Is that what made his soul so dismayed? His bones so disturbed?

“A joyful heart is good medicine, But a broken spirit dries up the bones.” Proverbs 17:22

Sometimes God’s silence can be so frustrating. So disturbing. So depressing.

I don’t like it when God is silent. I, too, have found it very disturbing. I, too, have cried out in frustration, “How long, O Lord–how long?!?” 

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, Nor faint when you are reproved by Him; For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines…

He disciplines us for our good, so that we may share His holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”  Hebrews 12: 5, 6, 10, 11

David was a man of great passion. But so is God. His lovingkindness is all about His zeal for His children. All about His goodness. His kindness. His faithfulness.

It’s also all about His holiness. His righteousness. His salvation.

When I mess up–and I do–I appeal to God’s mercy. I appeal to His lovingkindness.

But, I also have to understand that sometimes there are consequences. If I believe that God truly loves me, then I have to believe He will discipline me in His love. Not His anger. He will always be merciful. He will always be kind. He will always be faithful.

Even in consequences, God’s grace is sufficient.

And how long does it take? Until I learn. Until God knows I’m ready. Until He feels I’m equipped.

I may get weary with my sighing. My bed may swim and my couch may dissolve with tears. My eyes may waste away with grief, but this I know…

“The Lord hears my voice of weeping….He hears my supplication…He receives my prayers.” 

I wouldn’t ask God to rescue me if I didn’t think He could deliver me. 

I wouldn’t ask God to save me if I didn’t think He could liberate me.

I wouldn’t ask God to return to me if I didn’t think He could strengthen me.

I wouldn’t ask God to heal me if I didn’t think He could restore me.

And so…I’ll never stop asking. I’ll never stop making my appeals.

No matter how many times I mess up, I know God will never abandon me. He loves me too much.

I may hear the violins play a dirge in my head every now and then…I may feel like I’m pining away…I may sigh and groan and dissolve my bed with tears, but it’s not because I’m forgotten by God.

It’s because I feel something deep in the pit of my soul.

Even when I hurt over my sin, I’m always comforted in my salvation. And because of that, I will always find the words. While the violins play a soulful tune, I will pour out my heart, trusting God will always hear and God will always pardon.

I will always trust in His love.

***********************************************************************

Next Sunday is Easter. My favorite holiday of the year. Yes, I love it more than Christmas. Because I’m so thankful for the Cross.

I don’t know when it hit me exactly…but one day…many years ago it dawned on me…before I could see the Risen Savior I had to see the Crucified Christ. Because the Cross is at the root of it all.

No, the Cross isn’t pretty. It’s ugly, but it leads to something beautiful. This is why I lead a reflective life. I reflect to connect with Jesus. All the ugly in my life He has turned into something beautiful. He took my whole heart and held it gently in the palms of His hands and healed it…with all His tenderness and all His love and He bound my heart to His.

And I can only hope my heart now reflects less of me and more of Him.

Easter Joy!

 

Reflections On Psalm 5

IMG_1572I’m glad I don’t have the responsibilities of a ruler. No one calls me the Queen Mother.

Well, I take that back. Sometimes my husband calls me a “queen.” He can do that, if he wants to. He’s my earthly king, after all. I’m crazy about him.

But, you know what I mean.

I’m glad I don’t have the fate of an entire country in my hands. I’m glad I don’t have to make decisions that affect the lives of millions of people. I’m glad I don’t have to worry about people speaking falsehood about me or people deceiving me or people flattering me with their tongues.

I mean, I guess even those who aren’t ruling a country experience such things, but I can’t imagine how much worse it is for those who pretty much live their lives in the eyes of the public.

I guess if I really wanted to revel in it, I could recall to mind times when others spoke unkindly about me, told me untruths, or lied to my face. Yeah…I could do that. But, I don’t wanna.

Not today.

Because today I want to remember the kindness of people. The goodness. ‘Cause there’s just too much evil in the world. And I hear all about it. All the time.

I don’t hear enough about the good stuff and sometimes I need to focus on what’s good. ‘Cause if I don’t, I might forget. And I don’t ever, ever want to forget that no matter how bad things are, there’s still a lot of good in this world.

“For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil dwells with You. 

The boastful shall not stand before Your eyes; You hate all who do iniquity.

You destroy those who speak falsehood; The Lord abhors the man of bloodshed and deceit.

But as for me, by Your abundant lovingkindness, I will enter Your house, at Your holy temple I will bow in reverence for You.” Psalm 5:4-7

Oh. Gosh. How I need to remind myself that God rules. He sees. He hears. He loves what is good. He hates what is evil. He takes no pleasure in those who deliberately rebel against Him and those who purposely do evil with no thought of consequences.

How I need to remind myself that God sees. His sees my seeking, He considers my prayers, and He heeds the sound of my voice. verses 1-3

How I need to remind myself that God hears. He hears my words, He considers my groaning, and He heeds the sound of my cries. verses 1-3

He is King. The fate of the entire world is in His hands. Not mine.

God will make the final decision that will affect the lives of all people. I know because I’ve read His Book. From cover to cover. I know how it all ends.

My King knows falsehood when He experiences it because there is nothing false in Him. He knows deception when He sees it because there is nothing deceitful about Him. He knows flattery when He hears it because there is nothing insincere about Him.

He has the whole world in His hands.

I recently spoke these words at a women’s event and I’ve come to believe them with all my heart:

“If we believe that God is perfect then we have to believe that He is perfect in all of His ways. And if we believe that God is good then we have to believe He has a good plan and a good purpose for our lives, in spite of the bad things that happen to us.” 

When I wonder how much longer this world can remain and how much more evil this world can take, I remind myself that God is ever watchful. Ever patient. Ever in control.

As He is perfect, so is His timing in it all.

As He is good, so are His thoughts toward us all.

“Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God. For He will abundantly pardon. 

‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.'” Isaiah 55:6-9

Yes. Today I’ll focus on the lovingkindness of God when I enter into His presence. verse 7

Today I’ll focus on the way He guides and leads me when I walk in paths of righteousness. verse 8

Today I’ll focus on His favor and blessing around me when I love and praise His name. verses 11-12

And I will choose to remember He always speaks words of affirmation to me. His words are never false. Never deceiving. Never insincere. He’s crazy about me.

The Word of God is truth.

It is life.

And that is that.

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there without watering the earth and making it bear and sprout, and furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; so will My word be which goes forth from My mouth…” Isaiah 55 10-11

 

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

Reflections On Psalm 2

12105963_1148344255195515_2649919661234134810_n

I got a traffic ticket. Once. Nearly broke my heart. Felt seriously like a criminal. My pride was crushed. Never could I ever say, “I’ve never had a speeding ticket in my entire life.”

I remember it like it was yesterday.

My younger son got glasses when he was in the second grade. It never occurred to me that he would have trouble keeping up with them, much less keeping them on his face!! Any 7-year old should be able to keep up with glasses, right?

Of course not. What was I thinking? Don’t answer that.

Those first couple of weeks with new eye-ware were an adjustment period for us all. Brandon would take them off and forget where he put them and I would search for them. We made several trips back to the school at the end of the day so he could retrieve them.

One particular day when he got off the bus without them, we really, really needed to be somewhere right after school so upon leaving the school parking lot I pulled out and hit the gas. Within 3 seconds my rearview mirror lit up with bright, flashing lights and my heart flipped out. With a quick glance at the speedometer I let out a groan and pulled over…

45 in a 35 mile per hour zone–a zone complete with subdivisions on either side of the street and a school in the midst. Families, children, pets everywhere. And I wasn’t thinking of any of them.

The policeman who pulled me over was actually very nice. Kind, even. I even think he was a little tenderhearted. I don’t think he really wanted to give me that ticket. He hesitated as if he hoped I’d offer an explanation. He definitely didn’t throw his weight around.

Maybe because I said something like, “I’m so sorry. Just give me the ticket.” I even hung my head. Tears actually fell off my cheeks onto that yellow piece of paper as I signed on the dotted line.

Because I deserved that ticket.

That was over 20 years ago and I’m proud to say I’ve never had another one since.

But maybe I shouldn’t be so proud. Because in all honesty, I don’t always go the speed limit.

You know that 5-miles-per-hour-over-rule? Well, that’s me. Yep, most of the time I give myself 5 miles over. And, guess what? I’m still breaking the law. If I ever get a ticket for going 5-miles over, I’d deserve it. If  a policeman pulled me over with a blue-light-special, I’d still accept the consequences. That’s the law and a policeman wears the badge to show he has the authority to enforce the law.

Psalm 2 is one of those psalms you have to dig deep to find gold. It’s not one of those psalms we turn to over and over again, but I kept focusing on verse 4. It’s the only place in Scripture where we’re actually told that God laughs…and it’s not the fun-loving kind of laugh that makes us feel good.

God laughs because even though the pride of man, especially earthly kings and rulers, makes it look like human power prevails over God’s power at times…haha…it just can’t be done.

In fact, the patience and lovingkindness of God to wait until the appointed time to act shows great restraint and power on His part! Some tend to think that God doesn’t see or God doesn’t care or God can’t perform mighty acts anymore or maybe…heaven, forbid…He just isn’t more powerful than the enemy.

That’s what the scoffers say, anyway. That’s what the mockers think. But, those who know who God really is…those who trust that He is The Omnipotent One…they know better.

Those who believe that God is mighty and powerful and able to save will find rest in His omnipotence.

Psalm 2 is a warning (verse 10). A warning to the kings and rulers of this earth that God has glorified His Son (verses 7 & 8). It should be a great comfort to us that He has, too.

Though Jesus was, and still is, mocked, ridiculed, and blasphemed by men, God will not allow His Son to be stripped of His crown. Though nations rebel and earthly kings rage against Him…though they show Him irreverence and openly defy Him…God has still raised Him up, exalted Him, glorified Him, and set Him upon The Holy Mountain (verse 6). In spite of anything that mere mortal man may do, there will come a day when those rulers will be forever sorry (verse 12).

Forever. Sorry.

The nations may be in an uproar. They may grumble and complain and express themselves with rage against one another and against God. The peoples of the earth may devise vain things. The kings and rulers of this earth may take counsel together against the Lord (verses 1-3), but God is still on the throne and Jesus is still King of kings.

The Father has given His Son the right to be King. The right to rule. The right to conquer. Those who will not willingly bend now under the prodding of His golden scepter will one day be shattered by His iron rod (verse 9).

That’s a fact, Jack.

Oh, my goodness…I’m so glad I trust in the power of Jesus to save.

I know at times my trust has been small, but you know? Trust grows over time. If my trust is real when it’s small then it can surely grow. It’s like a seed that needs to be watered and nourished. When first planted that seed is very real. Without the proper soil and the right amount of water and fertilizer it may never amount to much, but when it’s loved and cared for it will grow into something beautiful.

Yes, I’m so glad I’ve learned the joy of finding refuge in Jesus. I don’t want to ‘misplace’ Him or ‘leave Him behind’ like a pair of glasses I toss here and there. I don’t want to ‘rebel’ against what’s good and right for me, charging full speed ahead into dangerous territory. But when I do, I’m so glad He will pull me over and ‘slow me down’.

I can trust Jesus to be my Ultimate Authority.

I know a lot of people don’t get this, but I want Jesus to rule in my heart. I would rather learn to willingly bend now so that I won’t be shattered later.

I want my trust to grow and flourish and produce fruit. Because even though I deserve the wrath of God (verse 12), in His mercy, He doesn’t treat me as my sins deserve. Instead of me signing my name on a dotted line, Jesus has paid my debt in full. That’s why tears of gratitude fall down my cheeks.

That’s the beauty of my inheritance in The Son (verse 8), an inheritance zoned-out with spiritual riches on every side and Jesus in the midst.

Forever. Blessed.

That’s me.

“…How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!” Psalm 2:12c