Sunday, June 15, 2014

What happens when hope flatlines?

When dreams die? When we can’t ever seem to shake our past sins and addictions?

I’ve probably said this before, but as I see it, we have two choices ... either lay down and accept the death, or ... take it to the ultimate Keeper of our souls.

Psalm 25 (NKJV)

A Plea for Deliverance and Forgiveness ... A Psalm of David.

To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, I trust in You;
Let me not be ashamed;
Let not my enemies triumph over me.
Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed;
Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause.

Our enemies are not always of flesh and blood. Sometimes they’re “spiritual forces of wickedness in high places” ... sometimes they go by the names of doubt, depression, fear ... pride, selfishness, greed ...

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;
On You I wait all the day.

I’ve often wondered about the part of the Lord’s Prayer that reads, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” Like, we need to ask this of the Lord, who is utterly good? Isn’t it a given that He’d lead us out of temptation?

But maybe the point of praying that isn’t to sway the Lord in our direction, but to sway our own hearts toward Him. Maybe we are the ones with the need to ask—because I can’t see Him needing to be persuaded to guide us toward the truth.

It’s a daily battle, for sure, to pull our hearts away from the snares of our enemies.

Remember, O Lord, Your tender mercies and Your lovingkindnesses,
For they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions;
According to Your mercy remember me,
For Your goodness’ sake, O Lord.

Here again we see David’s awareness that he had no worth or virtue on his own. The sins of his youth ... what do we know about those? We tend to see him as such a hero at the time he faced Goliath—what could he have done that was so bad? Of course, there’s the whole Bathsheba-and-Uriah thing, but before that? Looking at his later family life, we realize there must have been something ... small compromises, inconsistencies in his walk with the Lord ... could he really have been the one God said was “a man after My own heart” and yet harbor any serious sin?

Good and upright is the Lord;
Therefore He teaches sinners in the way.
The humble He guides in justice,
And the humble He teaches His way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are mercy and truth,
To such as keep His covenant and His testimonies.
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord,
Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

I think the answer to the above question, is, “Yes.”

I find this baffling. I find myself thinking, if we carry any kind of sin in our lives, how can God still shower us with His love and blessing?

12 Who is the man that fears the Lord?
Him shall He teach in the way He chooses.
13 He himself shall dwell in prosperity,
And his descendants shall inherit the earth.
14 The secret of the Lord is with those who fear Him,
And He will show them His covenant.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord,
For He shall pluck my feet out of the net.

How can a man who truly fears the Lord continue in sin? Maybe the answer to that is in the words, “continue in.” If we have a heart for God, He won’t let us stay in that place of indulging our pride ... our self-centeredness. Of fear, of guilt and anger and depression.

And in the end, we are the ones, who belong to Him, who will endure beyond all else.

16 Turn Yourself to me, and have mercy on me,
For I am desolate and afflicted.
17 The troubles of my heart have enlarged;
Bring me out of my distresses!
18 Look on my affliction and my pain,
And forgive all my sins.
19 Consider my enemies, for they are many;
And they hate me with cruel hatred.
20 Keep my soul, and deliver me;
Let me not be ashamed, for I put my trust in You.
21 Let integrity and uprightness preserve me,
For I wait for You.

Sometimes, yes, the deepest troubles we experience are those of our heart ... and make no mistake, the enemy of our souls holds a deep and abiding hatred for us, as children of the light.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
Out of all their troubles!

Because He does hear ... He does redeem.


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