Sunday, February 19, 2012
It's interesting to find that there is nothing I am going through that is uncommon. Throughout history, my troubles are not unique. Even in ancient times, the feelings and emotions I have on a regular basis were valid, were written about.
I've never been much of a fan of the Psalms, but periodically one of them hits me in just the right place in my heart at just the right time. My life seems to be cyclical -- I feel renewed and energized, I get a lot accomplished, I have a sense of worth, then I have some setbacks, life is a great struggle and I am overwhelmed, and I feel like a failure. Inevitably, when I am low, I can't imagine ever being 'up' again and, when I am 'up', I still have a clenched sense of imminent failure and doom slyly working its way through my psyche. I always feel like, no matter how well things are going,
Today, I read this passage. I've read it before, but never with the sense that it spoke to me that I had today:
"Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me." --Psalm 51:10-12
The history of this passage has nothing to do with my present circumstances. This is a Psalm of David, written after the prophet Nathan had come to him after David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. He is in the midst of contrition, but he knows there is nothing he can offer God; no sacrifice, no song, nothing. He simply asks for this renewal because David knows God so well that he is certain God will give him the renewal he needs though he doesn't deserve it.
Historically, I've always heard David referred to as "a man after God's own heart". This gives me great hope. It takes away my fears of failure because if this man, who betrayed and murdered and cheated could be so beloved by God, then I know I can be, too. I know that in the midst of my most miserable mistakes, He won't give up on me. I know that in my torpor, or in my moments of being so overwhelmed I cannot think straight, that He is there waiting to give me that same renewing spirit to sustain me that David had the nerve to ask for thousands of years ago.
David even begins this Psalm by asking, "Have mercy on me, oh God, according to your unfailing love." (v.1) That's God's M.O.! Unfailing love! It's not based on what we can do for Him, because He knows and we know there's nothing we have to offer Him.
We're like little kids coming to our parents with skinned knees and failed attempts, wallowing in our failures and hurting because of what we've caused, and He picks us up, dresses our wounds, kisses it for good measure, and holds us close until we've stopped crying. Even if our parents told us not to ride our bike in the gravel and we did it anyway, it doesn't end their compassion when we're hurt, and it doesn't inhibit their love for us. So it is with God.
Whether it's a mistake I've made that leads to failure, or simply taking on too much at once that leads to exhaustion, I can be sure that He is there to give me that renewal of spirit like a fountain inside my heart and soul. What I do with it is my own choice -- it's His free gift to me, along with the gift of free will. I can squander it or I can use it to spread joy. I can be like a miser and keep it all to myself or I can share it with those around me who, like me, also don't deserve it.
The gift is His.
The choice is mine.