“Nevertheless, I am continually with you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will receive me to glory.”
“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73, ESV
Continuity is a medicine for us who are always on the edge of losing control.
One patriarch in the Book of Genesis was told that “he was unstable as water.” And this pretty much describes me as I struggle with depression. But the promise from Psalm 73 is for a continuous presence. There is no flickering, no jumping about. He is steady. He does not flit or fluctuate.
He is always, and forever, constantly, focused on you.
He provides guidance, free of charge. We can experience many confusing days. We make the attempt to walk through them, but we quickly grasp our ineptitude. It goes very much better when He is speaking into our hearts. Since He is present with us on a continuous basis anyway, let us turn to Him for direction.
There is a realization in verse 25.“Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.” This statement declares “point blank” who and what is real. Try reading this verse and emphasize the “you.”
The psalmist has an ‘umbilical cord’ attached to heavenly places.
This feeds him and gives him a radical strength to stand up and ‘to be’. The writer is completely over with the things of this earth. He desires only heavenly things, that which really comes after looking down the long corridors of eternity. He has made his choice. He will follow.
In verse 26 he admits a desperate weakness.
He understands the foolishness of his flesh. He knows that he has been pathetic and spiritually feeble. There is absolutely nothing he can do about this. He has tried and tried repeatedly to change. His heart is like a colander that drains away all the grace and mercy that pours out on him. He holds on to nothing. He must stay under the faucet to survive.
But still, there is a profound realization that God is strengthening his heart. He has done this on an eternal level. What this means is this: He has touched me and by that touch has made me like Him. The rest of this Psalm extends and states certain things that the Psalmist has learned himself.
“For behold, those who are far from you shall perish; you put an end to everyone who is unfaithful to you.”
“But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.”
Psalm 73, ESV
God draws a person, but coming closer is also your choice.
The Psalmist sees that his “nearness to God is my good.” He realizes that by taking refuge in God there is something that will be quite wonderful. There is some effort that must happen. So he makes God his refuge. The Lord God is now a ‘bomb shelter’ or a covering for our souls. He continues this process with a deep commitment to sharing ‘the works of God.’
Those of us who are stronger must pray for those who are not.
We need to “stand in the gap” and intercede for those who are struggling so hard. Each of us has a sphere of influence, family, and friends–use it. They’re counting on us to lift their need to the Father.
Let’s pray . . .
God our comforter, you are a refuge and a strength for us, a helper close at hand in times of distress. Enable us to defend others so they’ll hear the words of faith. May their fear be dispelled, their loneliness is eased, and anxiety is calmed, and hope reawakened.
May your Holy Spirit lift them above sorrow to the peace and light of your steady constant love; through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.
These are words of faith that force fear and anxiety to leave, and these words can calm and protect. We truly believe that God’s power can strengthen them. We can trust the Spirit to transform their lives and overcome their weakness.
“The weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but are powerful through God for the demolition of strongholds.”
2 Cor. 10:4
Let’s pray for all those who are weak and lonely. They need us more than ever.
“The Lord says, “At that time, I will gather the crippled; I will bring together those who were sent away, those whom I caused to have trouble.”
“I will keep alive those who were crippled, and I will make a strong nation of those who were sent away. The Lord will be their king in Mount Zion from now on and forever.”
Micah 4:6-7, NCV
I’ve thought much lately about the Thorton Wilder play, “The Angel that Troubled the Waters”. The play is based on the biblical verses of John 5:1-4. In this play the angel meets a physician waiting for a miracle by the pool.
After a protracted conversation, the angel makes a challenge to the desperate doctor–
“Without your wound where would your power be? It is your very sadness that makes your low voice tremble into the hearts of men. The very angels themselves cannot persuade the wretched and blundering children on earth as can one human being broken on the wheels of living. In Love’s service only the wounded soldiers can serve.”
For those of us who have been abused, and marginalized, we now have become accepted. Being an outcast from ‘decent society’, has now at this moment, become the ticket to a life in the very center of God’s will.
Believe it or not, your past is no longer a significant problem when you understand He has completely forgiven you.
His Holy Spirit moves us out of our gross ugliness. He then places us out where we now become visible witnesses. This spotlight focuses on us, even though we may stand confused and exposed. We may protest over being ‘outed’ like this, but this is what He wants.“He desires truth in the inmost parts.” He has redeemed us, and we’ll never be the same. Never!
God loves losers.
He steps in and with His special agenda, starts looking for all of us who are failures. In His heart, He pulls us together into His army of misfits. If you are wonderful and complete in yourself, and oh so confident in your spiritual life– I am sorry, you haven’t been invited.
Those of us, who have stumbled so frequently and so often, we are escorted into the incredible deepness of His presence. We have failed, and we have been defeated. We don’t belong here, holiness is not our element. But we will stand, for we know our place. He intends on transforming us into His gallant army. He has done all of this.
“It’s not about perfection; it’s about our intimacy with God, or our connection, our relationship with God. Once we get through that, once we realize that we can be imperfect, and flawed, and broken; It is these kinds of things are the ingredients of true spirituality.”
There are so many who are waiting to understand this crazy miracle. Being consummate losers should make us people with a deep grace. Because we are tender, we can call out to others to come and join the “spiritual loser club.”
“Light shines in the darkness for the godly. They are generous, compassionate, and righteous.”
Psalm 112:4, NLT
The glory of Jesus lies in this: in weakness, vulnerability, and apparent failure. He has called forth disciples to come after Him, willing and able to carry the cross and relive His passion with compassion.
They are marginal people, not part of the scene, irrelevant to the “action.” In their ministry or quiet presence they do not need to win or compete. They may even look like losers, even if its just to themselves.
The world ignores them. But they are building “the Kingdom of God” on earth by reaching out in vulnerability and weakness to share the suffering of their brothers. They work by love rather than continue in sin.
“Where the compassionate One is, there will His servants be.”
Brennan Manning, “Reflections for Ragamuffins.”
From an entry dated June 27th. “A Stranger to Self Hatred,” by Brennan Manning.
Copyright @ 1982 by Brennan Manning, reprinted by permission of Dimension Books, Inc.