OK, you can laugh a little.
Honestly, my daughter and I laughed a lot.
Since my son recently went into Army Basic Training, I have been scouring through every photo posted from his battery on the internet. I haven't seen my son since July when he returned to the States, so these pictures are priceless to me. Every morning I get up to see if new pictures are posted of my SIT (Soldier In Training). I go to bed at night thinking about the possibility of pictures being posted. It's my last thought at night and my first thought in the morning. When pictures are finally posted, I go on a "Where's Waldo" adventure... Only, all these Waldos are wearing the same clothes! There is only one difference. Sometimes they are wearing color-coded and numbered jerseys.
About a week ago, the first round of pictures was posted. I spotted him in two pictures! My heart soared! I saved the pictures to my phone. I even put one on my phone as a wallpaper. It was a side shot of him putting on gloves as his platoon was in formation. They were wearing toboggans and his collar covered part of his face, but I would know my son's profile anywhere! The other picture was from a distance and slightly blurry, but he was tall and stood just like my son. Yep. That's my boy!
This week, a new set of pictures was posted. There he was in several pictures! Two of them were close-ups. Definitely my boy! But I noticed his jersey number in these pictures was different than in his other pictures. I thought that was very strange, so I did some research. I asked other Army Moms and wives. They assured me that the soldiers always wear the same jersey number. So for a week, I have had the picture of some stranger's son on my phone thinking it was my kid and staring at it every chance I got!
What a thrill to find the real deal, though. Sometimes we think we know our kids and that we could spot them anywhere. We think we know what they are like. Then we realize we didn't know them as well as what we thought we did.
We are like that with the Lord, too. We are convinced we know Him, but then as we get into the Word, we learn what He is really like. Just as my son's real jersey number identifies him without a doubt, the Bible points to the real God so that there is no mistaking who He is and what He is really like.
What if we had the same level of hunger to see Him that I have had for my son? What if He was our first thought in the morning and our last thought at night? What if we went scouring through the Bible daily to seek Him?
Psalm 63:1 "O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;"
Psalm 63:6 "When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches."
Psalm 63:8 "My soul followeth hard after thee: thy right hand upholdeth me."
Often we have imagined in our minds what God is like, but if we had a hunger and appetite for Him we would get into the Bible to see what He is really like. Just as finding the real pictures of my real son gave me great satisfaction and confidence, so does getting in the Word give satisfaction and confidence because we get to know who the Lord really is. When we have a false view of God in our minds, it's like having some other mom's son's picture on your phone. It will make you smile until you realize that isn't your son! Then it will make you feel quite silly. I could keep that other guy's picture on my phone and pretend it's my boy, but why do that when I can have the real deal? And why be satisfied with a facsimile of God that we have created in our own minds when we can get in the Word and get the real picture of who He is?
Psalm 63:5 "My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:"
How hungry are we for the real deal? Are we satisfied with a fake view of the Lord? Are we hungry enough to go searching, seeking Him early and daily? Are we convinced we know Him enough already? We just might be surprised that our view was wrong all along.
An untested faith is an unreliable faith.
It is easy to say we trust the Lord completely, but when we are put through the heat of trials, that's when the depth of our faith will be revealed. David knew about the refining and revealing nature of trials. He gives two main declarations:
1) Trust only in the Lord.
Three times in this Psalm, David uses the word "only" in reference to God.
Psalm 62:2 "He only is my rock and my salvation; he is my defence; I shall not be greatly moved."
Psalm 62:5-6 "My soul, wait thou only upon God; for my expectation is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation: he is my defence; I shall not be moved."
Wait ONLY upon God. He ONLY is my rock.
We declare we completely trust Him, but when trials come, what do our actions, attitudes, and words say we trust? David said there was a temptation to trust in other things.
Psalm 62:10 "Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them."
Oppression: strength, "strong-arming" your problems, control
When a trial comes along, do you depend on inner strength? Fortitude? Positive attitude and nature? Talents? Skills? Don't trust in how you can control (oppress) the situation. David was tempted in this area. As king, he had access to a great army. He had amazing resources at his disposal, and yet he chose to trust in his God.
Robbery: Taking something that isn't yours.
When a trial comes your way, do you resort to things that are off-limits to Christians? Do you scheme and plot? Do you try to use your own logic to solve the problem instead of following the lead of the Spirit and God's Word? Sometimes God has a plan that doesn't make sense logically. He sometimes tells us "no" to things that aren't necessarily sin... they just aren't His will for us. When we try to go down a path that God says no to, it is like robbery. That isn't our path to take.
Riches: Financial security, assets, and resources. House, job, bank account, car, health, etc.
When trials come, is your confidence in your resources? Do you think your job is secure? Do you think your home is safe? If God allows these things to be taken away, will your faith be shaken? Will you be consumed with depression? Will you still serve Him if your health is taken from you?
2) Trust in Him at all times... good and bad!
Psalm 62:8 "Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah."
It is so easy to praise Him and trust Him when things go smoothly, but the real test begins when things are not easy or comfortable. David says to trust Him at all times. He says to learn to make calling out to Him your first resort and your battle plan for when trials come instead of relying on your strength, logic, or financial stability.
What do you do when trials come? When the next trial hits, take note of what you default to in order to solve the problem.
I can't hide it. I am a pretty patriotic person. I love hosting the July Fourth annual party for fellow laborers in this country. I love decorating in red, white, and blue. I love displaying the American flag. It means something special to me. One year, I hosted a homeschool day and it was about the American flag: what it means, the history, and flag protocol. It was a great day of projects, games, and hands-on learning. I taught the group of homeschool students how to properly fold the flag. The Stars and Stripes still mean something special to me even though I live in a new country.
Flags (banners) mean something. They can be used to represent a group. They can be used to communicate. They can be used to declare a status or situation.
Psalm 60:3-4 "Thou hast shewed thy people hard things: thou hast made us to drink the wine of astonishment. Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah."
In Psalm 60, David describes a difficult situation. In the beginning of the Psalm, David explains that God was chastising His people. They had turned their backs on Him, and God responded with severe discipline. It was painful and costly! The things that God did left the children of Israel standing in awe and astonishment. They were hard things! Then David switches gears and talks about a banner (flag) that is displayed because of truth. What does that have to do with this battle and chastisement? It will make more sense if you see the other flag in this Psalm.
Psalm 60:1 "O God, thou hast cast us off, thou hast scattered us, thou hast been displeased; O turn thyself to us again."
There is a white flag of surrender. David hoists this flag high in fear and reverence to his God. His flag of surrender declares, "You are right, Lord. We deserve this. Our sin has earned this. Please have mercy and turn Thyself to us again!"
As David humbled himself, his banner of surrender turned into a banner of victory and truth. Those who fear the Lord hold this banner high. It is a banner that declares God's holiness that must judge sin. It is a banner that declares God's mercy that reaches out to man. It is a banner that declares God is true to His Word and that His Word is true. It is a beautiful banner that is precious to those who know the Lord and treasure His character and nature. They fear Him and love Him. We can all carry this banner, but only if we first hoist the banner of surrender and repentance when we realize we have sinned against our God.
A mountain-high to-do list...
Cooking, cleaning, shopping, grading, mopping...
I am overwhelmed.
A schedule towers over me...
A wedding, traveling, appointments, commitments...
I am overwhelmed.
The language barrier casts a cold shadow over me...
Classes, studying, writing practice, listening, speaking, stuttering, stammering...
I am overwhelmed.
Ministry hovers over me...
Preparing, teaching, cutting, planning...
I am overwhelmed.
The avalanche begins its descent. Toppling. Rumbling. Threatening. Pursuing.
I call out.
Psalm 61:2 "From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
He hears. He is there.
His wings to cover me.
A Tower to lift me.
A Shelter to protect me.
A Rock to hide me.
I am safe in the Rock that is higher than I...
Above the avalanche of worries and woes.
No longer overwhelmed.
Praises pouring forth.
Psalm 61:8 "So will I sing praise unto thy name for ever, that I may daily perform my vows."
One evening when I was younger, my mom and I looked out of the window in our house. Across the way, down a hill and back up another incline, we saw a house on fire. It was blazing! Flames poured out of the front of the house. We knew who lived there and that the situation was serious. They were older and less mobile. Their chance of escape was limited. We were petrified! My mom grabbed the phone and dialed 911. Within moments, the fire department barreled in with sirens blaring. They arrived on the scene to find my grandfather and a couple of other people burning brush on the far side of the house. The house wasn't on fire at all, but from our limited perspective, the fire looked like it was coming from the house. Our fears were unfounded and we caused a lot of heartache for several people simply because our perspective was limited.
David had some of those "limited perspective" moments. He was backed into a corner by his enemies. He was trapped! When a person is backed into a corner, their vision is limited. They cannot see the full picture. David was frustrated and at the end of himself. He called out to God, but it seemed like God wasn't doing anything. He felt alone and forsaken. And then he said it. Actually, he said it twice!
Psalm 59:4-5 "They run and prepare themselves without my fault: awake to help me, and behold. Thou therefore, O LORD God of hosts, the God of Israel, awake to visit all the heathen: be not merciful to any wicked transgressors. Selah."
Awake? Was God asleep? Had God accidentally dozed off and forgotten about David? Did God get tired and have to take a siesta?
Psalm 121:3-4 "He will not suffer thy foot to be moved: he that keepeth thee will not slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."
In the country where we live, people ring bells to wake up their gods. Every time I hear those bells, I am thankful that we serve the God who never slumbers nor sleeps. David knew that God doesn't sleep. David was backed in a corner, felt alone, and it felt like God had forgotten him. It felt like God was sleeping and not taking action. Yet the whole time, God was on the throne, wide awake, and still in control. God is never backed in a corner. He never loses sight of the full picture. His vision is never impaired or limited. He knows when is the best time to respond. He knows exactly what to do and when to do it. Just because He isn't moving when and how we want Him to does not mean He is sleeping. Remember Lazarus? He was dead four days! Martha and Mary were convinced Jesus arrived late. In all actuality, He was perfectly timed.
When Jesus took on a physical body, His physical body needed rest, but He was never unplugged from what was going on. He never woke from His sleep groggy and disoriented, unaware of what had happened while His physical body refreshed through sleep. He was still 100% God at all times even though He was also 100% man. When he was asleep on the boat and a storm came, He was still in control. When they awakened His physical body, He wasn't startled by a storm. He could sleep physically through the storm because He was still completely aware and in control.
When you feel backed in a corner and you feel like God is sleeping in your greatest hour of need, remember that we serve the living God who never sleeps, never takes a day off, never tires, and isn't bound by our physical limitations. Don't panic. He is still in control.