Randomly chosen, but as usual, pretty darn fitting. As a quick opening note, I love this psalm for its tone--I love how David ("a man after God's own heart," Acts 13:22) didn't mince words when he was psalming. He just lays it all out there: "I am overwhelmed by my troubles" (v. 2), "My heart pounds in my chest" (v. 4), "I can't stop shaking" (v. 5), "everything is falling apart" (v. 11). I love that ours isn't a God we have to doll up for, present ourselves to with our fears and emotions tucked securely away. This year, maybe more than any other, has seen me come to God an absolute mess more than frequently. I love that He doesn't turn me away (or smite me, for the record). I love that He asks the Real Chandra to please stand up--or, more typically, lie prone and mumble into her pillow. He takes what He can get.
God's been showing Himself particularly awesome in the last several days, scraping away some lingering plaque and build-up in our relationship. I seek so hard to complicate, and He cleans out. But this psalm speaks so loudly to where I've been lately: in caves of frustration, of self-pity, of mourning. Some caves I have dug myself, others I've found myself in through circumstances, but all of them I treat as prisons I am helpless to. "Oh, that I had wings... I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness" (v. 6-7). Preach it, David. Anyone have some property on the Canary Islands I could get in on?
But God has been driving me--patiently, perfectly--to handle these frustrations in a different way than I would like: instead of anger and fuming, peace and stillness. Instead of retreating from the world, seeking unity and community. Instead of self-righteousness, humility and prayer. These things come unnaturally, and I frequently choose poorly, but He is good enough to keep bringing me to the same choices. Gradually, the right ones come more often. Very, very gradually.
David's summary, both of the situation ("the real danger is wickedness within the city. Everything is falling apart," v. 10-11) and the actual solution ("But I will call on God," v. 16, "Give your burdens to the Lord and he will take care of you," v.22), are still true millennia later. I can fuss and fume and whine and cry--and God accepts all of those forms of communication--but in the end, I am called to be where He has me, love who He has brought me to, and strive (struggle, wrestle, fight) for peace and unity.
Some weeks ago, a friend forwarded me a devotional. She does this frequently and, if I'm being honest, sometimes I read them and sometimes I don't. But that day I did, and this little nugget from Max Lucado has become something of a mantra for me:
This is the time for service, not self-centeredness. Cancel the pity party. Love the people God brings to you. He will work in you what is pleasing to Himself. And you will get through this.
I find myself imagining David nodding in agreement.
At the end of the day, I choose. I can sit in my cave, growling and imagining conversations where my righteousness and wordiness wins the day. Or I can acknowledge that everything, including victory, belongs to the Lord, step outside, and get busy living.