It amazes me how fleeting time can be. It’s crazy that the last time I posted to update you all was 3 months ago. So often I have thought it was time to let everyone know what we are up to, but then I wouldn’t quite get to it, and more time would pass, and the longer it had been the more I wondered what to even share! How many things in life are like that, right? An easier task if we just stay on top of it, and yet we don’t, so the task grows and becomes a much bigger task and we question where or how to even begin.
Today I begin here: with something from God’s Word that struck me yesterday morning. Perhaps I still really need to fill everyone in on the details of life from the finishing of summer and now almost an entire fall retreat season. And I aspire to send some more details about all of that in coming weeks. But first, I thought maybe the best thing to share is simply some truth that I read afresh yesterday morning from Psalm 143. I’ll include the whole Psalm here so you don’t have to go get your Bible. 😉
143 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.
I love that this whole thing is a prayer. And ok, maybe that can be said of all of the Psalms, but this one is a prayer with the whole thing written in the first-person. All the way through it is filled with pronouns like I, me, my, you, your. Don’t you just love that? The Psalms that are written this way are so easy to just put as our very own prayers to God. It’s like God knew that we would need some simplicity. Just write it out for us so we can pray it back to him.
It begins with asking God to hear and listen. And oh, the beautiful truth that He will. Maybe on this earth, in these broken lives we live, we won’t always feel heard by someone who listens. But God. In His faithfulness and His righteousness, He will hear and listen. Then it goes on to verse 3-4, confessing the condition of our lives. We are crushed, we sit in darkness, our spirit faints, our heart is appalled. So very broken.
But next as we read, we turn our thoughts to what we know to be true about God. Verses 5-6 lead us to remember God’s works and what He has done, which is, of course, loaded with love and faithfulness and goodness. What is your first thought when considering what God has done? It could be many things. As is common in the Psalms, we could recall God’s provisions for the Israelites in the Old Testament. Or maybe we think of some very recent answer to prayer in our present day lives. And surely it also points to Christ and what He accomplished on the cross. In these verses, we are directed to remember and ponder. Who God is. What He has done. After considering that, verse 6 leaves us in a posture of needy humility with our hands outstretched to God and in need of all He has and is. How beautiful.
The Psalm continues as a heart cry to God, having acknowledged His sufficiency and our lack. In the midst of that heart cry, in verse 9, we plead with God to “deliver me from my enemies.” Sometimes when I come across this phrase in the Psalms it can feel out of context of my actual life. I don’t have an army chasing me down or pursuers seeking to take my life. But this morning I wondered, what might my enemies be? In my defensiveness or pride I might want to think that is other people; maybe those I am in conflict with, are frustrated with, or feel wronged by. Is it our coworkers? Our families? Kids, parents, husbands, wives? But in reality, I think often our enemies are the things right in ourselves – the lies we believe and our own sin. The discouragement, the anger, the hopelessness, the disillusionment, the unmet expectations or thoughts of “I deserve…”. So we say in the Psalm, deliver me from all of that, Lord; I have fled to you for refuge. We don’t flee to a quick fix, a person, or a better circumstance. We flee to the Lord and His sufficiency to make all things new.
I also love in verses 9-11 how the Psalm leads us to continue asking for actions. Practical help. Deliver. Teach. Lead. Preserve. Bring. We can look to God expectantly for Him to be doing these things in our lives. We can ask Him for these actions knowing He is good and more than able.
Then at the end, in verse 12, the Psalm concludes with a return to those enemies, but this time instead of asking to be delivered from them, it is a confident statement of bold faith. “In your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy the adversaries of my soul.” Because of God’s plan for salvation through Christ, our enemies, those adversaries of our soul, need have no power over us. We can trust Christ’s power to conquer them all. And why? “For I am your servant.” Turning again to humility and full dependence on God. Trusting He is great enough and able to deliver and heal.
I pray this Psalm is an encouragement to you as it was to me yesterday morning. It made for a long post, but of all the things I knew I should have been sharing over the last 3 months, this was the thing that I suddenly knew I wanted to share. Look for some more practical-life updates in the coming weeks. We are busy, we are well, and we are so very thankful for each and every one of you who helps to support our work here. Thank you for your part in our ministry.
Rachel, for the Bennetts