So, I read a lot of books. And I blaze through them. I have to reread them to experience the details. Why do I do this?? Because I have to know the ending. I don’t want to know it up front, because then the getting-there part is no fun. Once I start, however, I have to know. I watch my oldest do it too. Here is a typical, nightly conversation.
Me: “You can read one chapter and then lights out.”
Four minutes later.
V: “Hey mom! I finished that chapter. Can I read just one more?”
Me: “No way you finished that chapter. It’s 15 pages. That means you read 3 or 4 pages in one minute.”
V: “Well, I skimmed a little. I wanted to know what happens next.”
Conversely, sometimes I take days, weeks and months over small portions of scripture. I recently finished a year and a half of study on the book of Matthew. We dug; we lingered. This is often my main mode of study, so I am way behind the Psalm schedule. My first-born-type-A personality cringes a little, but that’s ok. My type-A needs to practice coloring outside the lines.
From June 24 to June 28 I stayed in Psalm 37. For good reason. I have a problem that comes and goes. I forget God is the most loving Father we can’t even imagine. I start viewing Him as a harsh, task-master whose primary job is to refine me through fire. When my thinking begins to shift in this direction, I approach God fearfully, carefully, without the confidence of a beloved daughter. I start to believe that all I should expect in life is suffering with temporary periods of respite. In this misguided state I say things to God that I know aren’t true, such as, You care about Your plan, not me. I’m just an instrument for Your glory. It’s like the game “Two-truths and a lie.” That’s always how Satan messes with me, a lie mixed in with the truth. Because the truth is God cares about His plan and He cares about me and I am an instrument for His glory all at the same time. If only the first and last were true, it would be a harsh reality to live under. But it’s not. He cares for us so deeply we cannot comprehend it, therefore we question Him in life’s difficulties. At times it’s hard to see how all these things converge. Yet His plan involves caring for us so much that He makes sure our suffering is not needless- it becomes part of a great plan that brings Him glory. And it has an end.
I was struggling with these truths and lies when I hit Psalm 37. I felt that maybe the Holy Spirit was telling me to pause and take in each piece; that there was something my Father wanted to say to me. There is so much in this Psalm. Promises, commands, reassurances.
Here are some condensed into big ideas.
The wicked will not have power forever; wickedness will be defeated and suffering cease. Those who trust in the Lord will have: a place to dwell in safety, the desires of their hearts, justice and righteousness, peace, food in famine, firm steps, generosity, children who are blessed, deliverance and refuge.
Do not fret, trust in the Lord, do good, delight yourself in the Lord, commit your way to the Lord, be still, wait patiently, refrain from anger, turn from evil.
As I read I felt God saying, Beloved, just focus on me. Do not fret, do not be angry, do not try to fix everything. Just delight yourself in Me, trust Me, wait for Me to take care of you. I have so many blessings for you! For your children too! Be still here with Me, and when you get up and move, just keep doing the things I’ve given you to do. I will take care of everything else.
So that’s what I did. For a few days I prayed over this Psalm, I sat still before the Lord, I let Him speak His Truth over me until I no longer believed the lie. Then I got back to work on the particular life He has given me to live.
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him and He will do this: He will make your righteousness shine like the dawn, the justice of your cause like the noonday sun. Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him…” Psalm 37:5-6