He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken…For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. Psalm 62:2, 5-6
Much like a room in total silence allows me to hear the ringing in my ears, I often have to be given space and time to rest to even begin to feel how very tired I am. I have commented on my exhaustion, because it hasn’t been submerged below my consciousness but has encumbered my muscles, joints and ability to think productively. So even though my bone tired state has declared itself loudly and consistently over the past year, getting away to the beach allowed me to see a deeper unrest, far more toxic and crippling.
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? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. Psalm 27:1-2
Of whom shall I be afraid? Everyone. I have been living in a state of tense anxiety because of the increase of violence on our street…thankfully since May it has not been against any person, but against our car, my dad’s car and my parents’ “side house” – the door being kicked in, then repaired and reinforced by Terrell or my Dad, only to be found kicked down again – on three occasions in the past week. It has caused me to live with my nerve endings constantly “awake”, alert, wanting always to be prepared for a coming assault. It is I who am stumbling and falling, like in a dream when your legs are so oddly weighted you can’t outrun the danger that pursues you. My assailants seem to be gaining in number and confidence unlike the declaration of this Psalm.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident. Psalm 27:3
My heart is weak, flimsy, deflated and easily toppled in the face not only of an army encamped “against me”, but even citizens or visitors through that army’s country. What I mean is, I realize that it isn’t just the middle of the night thugs bashing windows and doors that has me on edge and simultaneously drained of strength, it is the constant experience and encounters which remind me that people are more prone to suspicion than assuming the best, self-protection rather than self-sacrifice, cynical, unforgiving, vengeful, self-seeking, disregarding the value of others, not compassionate or patient, quick to judge without mercy, delighting in discord, determined to look out for one’s own interests even at the expense of the needs of others…and each of these can be seen in my own heart throughout the course of most days. The wickedness of mankind, the darkness that dwells in the hearts of men, overwhelms me and is too strong for me to stand against.
How does the Psalmist enjoy such confidence, such peace and I find myself so deeply shaken?
One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: 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 meditate in his temple. Psalm 27:4
On a practical note and for starters, I have been dwelling in the house at my mailing address and not in the house of the Lord. I am looking for beauty (that is elusive) in my home, in dreams of our yard’s future landscape, demanding beauty come from the people around me and that my possessions provide my stability, my shelter, my refuge and my strength. So, when I find my car window broken or gaze at the unending mess in our home from dogs, children and even the parents, my heart is made weary. I’ve set my heart upon the wrong rock.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength/rock of my heart and my portion forever. Psalm 73:26
Unlike the Psalmist, I want to stabilize my feet with a definable and measurable career. I’m wanting to plant my feet in a finished and photo-worthy home. I am still looking for salvation (not the after death kind, but the life justifying proclamation) through school affiliations, titles and positions, the honor and respect of people, the companionship of admirable friends and surroundings which promote rest. I have been deeply shaken because I have been dwelling in the wrong home, one built on sand and not on the rock.
He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matt. 14:29-31
Just like Peter, and unlike the Psalmist, my gaze is not fixed on His face but instead on the powerful waves against (nor on top of) which I cannot stand. The deep waters are easily able to drown me, but they are not able to drown the One who made them and who remains sovereign over them. Jesus did not come to live, suffer, die and defeat death to merely send me love notes on rainy days. He reigns and invites me to place my confidence in His rule, to plant my feet on His rock, to set my focus on His face. If I make my dwelling in His house for every day of my life, then I can trust that the mud on the floor or the unfinished trim or the constant pile of laundry is just how He wants His home to be, today, for His good purposes. If it were not so, it would not be this way. And I can trust that the wickedness in my own heart and that which I experience in the hearts of all humanity which is not yet fully redeemed, is no more daunting than some placid lake water to Him.
You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, Lord, do I seek.” Psalm 27:8