Friday, October 14, 2016

How to Avoid the Cliff of Despair

I almost jumped off the Cliff of Despair this morning. For some reason it seemed like the best thing to do when my eyes first opened up.

Have you visited the Cliff of Despair? It's just around the corner on those mornings when you wake up stampeded by thoughts of inadequacy, desperation and doubt. The way to the cliff is usually well-marked by road signs with words like, "Loser," "LazyAss,"or "DumbAss."

I stumbled down the road, looking at the signs but before I got to the cliff I stopped and took a breath. I reached over to my night stand with a vague recollection of a list I had written down the day before. I couldn't remember what it was, I only knew it was like a naked light bulb in a dark room.

I gulped down the words like one gulping water at a finish line.

Love God.
Obey God.
Hold fast to God.
Love others 

I paraphrased to make things a bit more succinct, but his is what God laid out for his people in Deuteronomy 11:22 and just like the Hebrew National wieners I sometimes buy, if it's good enough for God's people, it is good enough for me.

After reading my list I had the courage to get out of bed and take on the morning but after running around a little bit and watching Will head off to school my soul needed a bit more.

I opened my Bible to Psalm 46. Have you read it?

It starts off by saying , "God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble."

When I was young, my mom's Bible would rest on the coffee table in the living room. I remember picking it up one day, leafing through it and finding that she had this verse underlined. I thought if that verse was good enough for my mom, it was good enough for me - kind of like wieners.

God is our refuge. God is our strength.

In verse 10, the Psalmist writes,
"Be still and know that I am God."

You may have heard that one before but the Psalmist doesn't stop there. In that same verse he goes on to expound on God's words by saying:
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.

The Psalmist is pressing his point. He's drawing a parallelism.

His point? God is God.

All the stampeding thoughts, all the road signs pointing to the Cliff of Despair are focused on the wrong thing.

They focus me on me.

The Psalmist is slapping me in the face and trying to bring me to my senses.

Be still. Chill. Stop your craziness you curly-headed crazy woman.

It's not about you.

I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.

Oh yeah.

God is God. He is my refuge. He is my strength. I am not my strength. He is my help in trouble. I am not my help in trouble. He will be exalted. I am not to be exalted.

I like to be exalted.

I like to be productive and praised for my productivity. I am a Martha. Remember her from Luke 10?

 In the picture she's the one standing with the water jug in her hands.

People showed up at her house and she started to do what any sane woman would do - fussing around, making sure every one had what they needed and trying to put on a good spread.

Mary, her sister, is the one sitting at the feet of Jesus looking slightly guilty.

She should be.

There was work to be done and she decided now would be a good time to sit and listen to the words of Jesus?!

If I was Martha, I probably would have grabbed her by the arm, called her a name I may or may not have regretted later, and told her to get up and help!

But Mary, according to Jesus, in the Luke 10 passage, chose the better way.

She was "stilling and chilling." She understood that Jesus was there. In her house. If there was a time to chose to sit still and know that He is God, the moment he shows up at your house is probably the right one.

I would have been fussing around with Martha and throwing the stink eye at Mary.

But it's not about me is it? It's not about my tiny triumphs or my proudly productive patterns.

It's about Him.

He is my refuge. He is my strength. He is my help in trouble. He is in me and because of Him I won't fall. He is my fortress. He will be exalted. All I have to do is hang out with Mary at the feet of Jesus and work on my list.
Love God.
Obey God.
Hold fast to God.
Love others.

And so I will, and in so doing, I hope to not even see the road signs. In fact I hope to avoid that road altogether.

Happy Friday everyone!