Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Psalm 5

From the New Living Translation

O Lord, hear me as I pray;
    pay attention to my groaning.
Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
    for I pray to no one but you.
Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
    Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
 
O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;
    you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,
    for you hate all who do evil.
You will destroy those who tell lies.
    The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.

 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
    I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
    or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.
 
My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
    Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
    Their tongues are filled with flattery.
O God, declare them guilty.
    Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
    for they have rebelled against you.

 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
    let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
    that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
For you bless the godly, O Lord;
    you surround them with your shield of love.


What a way to start the day! In prayer! That's something we all need to do, as it gets our day off on the right foot, but how much more so do we need to get in this habit if we deal with some sort of catastrophe. Dire things, like disease, that we must cope with can often direct our days. There are appointments to keep, meds to take, day-to-day duties that must be attended to, people we must take care of, naps we need to take, dealing with any side-effects, all sorts of things will be part of our "normal" routine.

Starting our day off by talking with the LORD, our King and God, and just going through, with Him, what our day looks like and our own perspective of what we'll need can help us prepare to look to God as our day progresses. It also helps us weed out those things that really aren't as important as we first thought. As we grow in this discipline, it can also help us see our catastrophe more from God's perspective. 

True story. Just this morning I was talking with a woman. I had told her about why I wear my compression sleeve and glove. She told me about her own health issue involving some of her lymph nodes and her decisions. As our conversation moved along, and we agreed that we do what we have to do, I made the comment that my compression is temporary. I may wear it another 50 years, but it's still temporary...it's not going with me. She laughed and agreed.

For me, that's from a more God-like perspective than from my usual "human" perspective. And it has come over time and after much prayer and introspection. The more time we spend in prayer, the more apt that is to happen. Be warned!

And be warned that David gets it right when he says we "wait expectantly." That's something else a growing prayer life teaches us. God is not on our timetable to answer our prayers and He is not obligated to answer them like we pray them either. I have found, for myself, that He takes His own sweet time. And wait, I must. After 53 years of living and I don't know how many of praying, I find that's actually best. It teaches me patience. It teaches me God really does have perfect timing for doing what He wants to do. It teaches me that what He wants to do is far better than what I wanted Him to do. It teaches me that God is in control and not me or melanoma. It teaches me that God has my best interests at heart and I have my selfish interests at heart...AND my selfish interests are not usually my best interests! How about THAT! AND, it teaches me not just to wait, but to wait expectantly because God will answer my prayers. In His way and in His timing, but I can expect an answer. Often when I least expect it!

You know, God takes no more pleasure in my melanoma, or any catastrophe, than I do. He hates it. He hates it more than I ever will (and I hate it with every fiber of my being). He doesn't just see what it does to me. Oh no. God gets to multiply me by millions around His world. He sees things I will never see, nor can I imagine. Multiply that by all the kinds of catastrophes there are and the people who are in pain, and well, that's just about everyone on this planet to some degree or other. At some time or another. All of us.

The day is coming when all that will come to an end. In the meantime, we can know God's unfailing love in the midst of everything else on this earth that does fail. We can know His perfect love and power that will sustain us and see us through the tough times and rejoice with us in the good and help us rejoice even in the worst. There's not a force anywhere that can prevent us from worshiping God and praying to Him, and as we do, we are opened and exposed to His joy no matter what is going around and within us. We learn the difference between joy and happiness.

The more time we spend with God, the more we learn how He leads us and we can trust His leading even when it's contrary to what some people may tell us. For example, I have this "feeling" that comes over me when I know God is leading me in a particular direction. I never experience it any other time. I don't always get this feeling every time I want or need direction, but when I do get it I better pay attention and follow it, or the consequences will be all mine. It's not smart to ignore God's leading and do things your own way.

When we take refuge in the LORD, we find shelter from the storm and His protection. We experience His love and we are blessed. 

It doesn't stop life's falls from happening any more than our parental love stops our children from falling. My two have experienced their share of spills and tumbles. Me loving them didn't catch them and prevent knots on their heads. Part of loving our children means letting them grow; and in our imperfect world, that means helping them learn how to fall, regroup and recover, and get back up and keep going...even if they keep going on a different path...they keep going and living and learning. We teach them how to hold an umbrella, how to stay out of a bad storm, and how to splash in mud puddles. And sometimes we teach them when to enjoy a rain and play in it. Even when they get drenched. There is still joy in the rain. And we teach them to look for the rainbows.

Rainbows don't follow every storm. But, man, they sure help make the storm worthwhile.

Sing joyful praises forever, knowing God's eternal love, and the temporariness of your enemy/storm/catastrophe.

charis