So, this amazing Psalm popped into my head this morning. And it was totally from God. I am really thankful for all those years of verses being drilled into me, because they come back often, and it's usually exactly at the time I need to be reminded of that verse. And, I might add, we didn't have Awana where I lived growing up....so I memorized these verses with no promise of candy, stickers, patches, or whatever kinds of prizes await Awana club members! haha. Although, most of these verses were memorized for school, so I didn't really have a choice. It was either memorize the verses or get a bad grade. And I was really afraid of bad grades. So on second thought, I guess I did get a reward for my efforts! haha
But I'm digressing. The point is that God is using these verses buried in my brain to work on my heart. This is what I awoke to this morning, going through my head. Really it was just the first couple of verses, but I liked the whole Psalm so much that I ended up reflecting on the whole thing:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
(Psalm 46 ESV)
Let me just tell you, there are so many awesome things about this Psalm! But a couple stand out to me. I don't think this will be a long rant like I usually write, but you never know, so please bear with me! :o)
The first thing I realize is that we have literally nothing to be afraid of. God is the one who we turn to in trouble, and He is the one that created the earth, the mountains, the seas...basically everything we see as great, powerful, and majestic. All those things are no match for His greatness. This gives me comfort, because no matter what happens, I truly have nothing to fear because my trust is in God.
Then I love the verse about the nations raging. We look around us and see lots of unrest between nations, and within countries as well. And what it all come down to is a hunger for power and greatness. Of course, all this strife and unrest causes people to have fear. But this is a fear of man, not of God! This is what Jesus said about fearing man:
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
(Luke 12:4-7 ESV)
And then, Psalm 46 goes on to say, "He utters His voice, and the earth melts." Think about that for just a moment, it's totally mind blowing! All He has to do is speak, and this huge planet and everything in it would melt. And we fear what humans can do to us? Um, that is totally backwards! And yet, I fear man just about every day of my life. It's so easy to fall into this trap, because we are bombarded daily with tons of reasons to be afraid of man. But even though man can do some awful things, he can never have the kind of power that God does. So why do we wrap ourselves up in anxiety about people? Why do I worry so much about what people think of me, or what they say about me, or what they try to do to me? Why in the world does it even matter?
One of the biggest things I worry about with people is them falsely accusing me. I hate it so much...it feels so unfair, cruel, and spiteful when people purposely try to make me into something I'm not, especially if they accuse me and then spread that around to others without ever confirming any of their ideas about me. This has happened to me several times in the last few years (that I'm aware of, and there are probably more times that I'm not aware of!) I let myself get wrapped up in anxiety about this, to the point where I've been afraid to trust and open up to anyone. It's a really bad place to be. I'm not there right now, thankfully, but I've been there many times and it really just stinks. I have let those accusations sink in to the point where I start to believe them myself, and then I heap guilt on myself for things that aren't even my fault. Then, when I'm feeling especially depressed, I start blaming all of those people for making me feel like this, and before I know it, I'm turning legitimate hurt into sin by harboring anger and resentment towards these people. And it makes me want to gather all of the people I can who will take my side and stand up for me, because it makes me feel better about myself to have them fighting in my corner.
But while I was reading this passage this morning, it dawned on me that there is only ONE person who has the right to accuse me. And that is God! It might sound weird to think of Him as my accuser, but He is the only one who has the right because He is the only perfect, completely righteous judge. So he absolutely has the right to call me what I am, a sinner. He knows my heart and can see every single evil thought and attitude I have. Yep, He definitely has the right to point that finger of blame right into my face, and I'd completely deserve it. But the great thing is that I also have Jesus, the only perfect man who ever lived (who is also completely God) who took that accusation and paid the price for it on the cross! He is the perfect advocate, in fact the only one I really need. I don't need people on my side, just like I don't need to be afraid of people who aren't. God is the only judge whose opinion matters, and Jesus is the only advocate who I need on my side. It's all really that simple. Psalm 46 goes on to say, "Be still and know that I am God." And that sounds almost too simple sometimes, but really, if I truly let that sink in, then who cares what people say about me? Let them think what they want, let them say what they want, and let them spread it to the world! The only thing that would destroy me is if I was rejected by God. And that is never going to happen. So I can rejoice, when men bring their worst. Because God is still God, and while He is my judge, He has also extended His grace and mercy to me through His Son. So there's no blame or guilt on me. People are always going to misinterpret things, or just plain make things up about us. Sometimes it will even come from other Christians, or at least those who claim to be. But so what? We have the Creator of the universe-- the one who can make the earth melt just by talking--on our side.
So, if you feel like accusing me of something in the future, or if you have in the past....let me just tell you this. Yep, you got me. I'm a sinner. I mess up. And get this.....sometimes I don't even realize it! But, before you "crucify" me, just remember someone already hung on a cross in my place. And it's the same guy who hung on a cross for you. We all deserve the same blame and accusation, but praise Jesus, we don't have to face that condemnation because God looks at what Jesus did and declares us righteous. That's what I'm going to focus on the next time someone starts trying to point out my faults and criticize me for them. And when someone just completely makes something up and it's completely false, with no one taking my side, it won't matter. Because the entire world could turn their backs on me tomorrow, and it still wouldn't even make a dent in the magnitude of His love for me. :o)