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Thursday, November 20, 2014

In the Day of Trouble, He will Keep me Safe

Psalm 27 – a Psalm of David:

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and my foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. 3 Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident.

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4 One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.5 For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling;he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.6 Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.

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7 Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me. 8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, Lord, I will seek. 9 Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Savior. 10 Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. 12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing out violence. 13 I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. 14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

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I’m no stranger to anxiety.  I’ve struggled with it for as long as I can remember.  I have a vivid memory of lying awake at night as a child, counting down with the clock the hours and minutes of sleep I would still get if I fell asleep now … or now … or now.  Worrying and fretting about not getting enough sleep, but not wanting to close my eyes for fear of falling into a horrible nightmare.   

Somewhere in my growing up years, my sleep habits improved, but I continued to struggle with fear and anxiety. During my faith-growing years in college, the Lord began revealing to me the depth of my worry, and through that He pointed a spotlight on my sinful control issues, my self-interest / self-preservation, my idolatry.

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Ten+ years later, I still struggle.  I wage war against the idolatry in my life – good things like my husband, my children, my own life, our finances, other people’s happiness, my reputation – all seem to creep into the number one most important spot in my life, and my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ takes a backseat.  And when any one of those GOOD things becomes the ONLY thing or the MOST IMPORTANT thing, I sink into fear unspeakable and anxiety riddled what-ifs.   What if ___________ happens and I’m not prepared?  Or worse, what if _____________ ?

In this 10+ year struggle with fear, even as a believer in Jesus Christ,

I found myself often unable (or unwilling) to pray about it,

unable to see past the fact that bad things still happen in this sin sick world,

and unsatisfied with the response that “the likelihood of one of those scenarios taking place in my life is quite small.” 

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But just recently God brought me to Psalm 27, a Psalm of David, and it is rocking my world.  What if the absolute worst thing you can dream up or imagine actually happens?  David says WHEN evil men advance against me… THOUGH an army besiege me…THOUGH my mother and father forsake me.  Nowhere does he contemplate the what-ifs in this Psalm.  His fears have in fact become reality, and yet, he writes that he can gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and not fear. 

This.  This is a solution that takes into account that bad things do indeed happen, and God is still sovereign.  How does David face these real adversities without fear?  Verse four says he gazes upon the beauty of the Lord, seeks Him in His temple, and dwells with Him there.

For it is there, with God in His rightful place as the FIRST and ONLY thing we’re striving for, that we are free from the worry, the fear, the anxiety, the panic that binds and cripples and destroys. 

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How do we do this practically?  When life IS hard and our lives or our family or our security IS threatened.  What does gazing on the goodness of the Lord look like?  I think it probably looks like the cross.  Because of His mercy and love, God sent His only Son as the atoning sacrifice for my sins (past, present, and future), while I was still dead in my trespasses.  God’s great mercy. God’s great love and goodness and provision.  He IS, after all, the ONE thing, the ONLY thing we should be gazing at and seeking. 

And secondly, we have to be putting to death those other things that often take the place of the FIRST thing, sacrificing them, as we reorient our will and our purpose and our life toward God through Jesus Christ with the Spirit as our helper.

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Fear is still a huge obstacle in my life, but it’s one that Christ is redeeming, by exposing it for what it is, and providing me with a way out of it’s strong grip.   Gaze at Him, Seek His face, Dwell in His presence. 

*all of the above photos were taken on our ten year anniversary trip to Portland, ME, this past October.  we loved our time in Portland and we love being married. 

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