Delighting in the Lord

I love the Word of God. I love it not enough, surely, but love it, I do. I opened today to Psalm 37 and within moments, that portal was opened and I was lovingly transported to that time when those words were first truly ingested and their life was pressed and spread deeply, evenly, thoroughly about all my mind and soul. I had been selling pottery and it was Christmastime; I was amidst great crowds of people, but the Lord had drawn me away, cloistered me in His belfry and was introducing to me a new part of Himself. His love is like that; it draws us out and away and creates a longing so severe, it pains us to be alive if we are separate.

I'd come short, then, in my answers to others and it seemed I'd become so adept at navigating in imagination that I'd atrophied some in the temporal. Faith seemed so much the more real, and the beautiful, radiant life of His word in my soul had flavored and rallied into all of my days, creating a pleasure unmatched and unaffected by the ebb and flow of my actual life. I'd come though, to a crossroads, and it seemed I was no longer afforded the liberty of allowing faith to tap out its chords in my soul, but needed rather to turn it outward in expressing that working as I communicated my place in this world.

The first line: "fret not because of evildoers" seemed an easy command to ingest. I'd been one of them for so long and was not bunched up over their prosperity. The third verse fell to me, as it says in Psalm 16:6 "in pleasant places" and its import was beautiful to me. "Trust in the Lord and do good;" these words intimated a curiously perplexing simplicity that gratified my inner man. Spurgeon writes: "faith cures fretting; sight is cross-eyed, and views things only as they seem, hence her envy; faith has clearer optics to behold things as they really are, hence her peace. Very much of our outward depends on our inward; where there is heaven in the heart there will be heaven in the house." Selah.  

I recall ingesting that "cordial of corrective wisdom" and feeling I'd realized a terribly lonesome and liberating truth. After receiving the imperative to not fret, we are told to trust in the Lord and do good. We are to dwell in a land and feed off of His faithfulness. As the Bible propounds, we are to dwell in this world as sojourners or pilgrims, and in these potent and stout draughts of God's curative statutes and truths, we are to drink deeply and find our fill. In contrast to the evildoers we might find place to envy, we are to shine and sharpen our eyes of faith by learning of Him and doing good. We are to mistrust what we see and feel in this world and navigate by the eyes of faith. We are liberated in simplicity, as man is always asking of what he might do, but we are pressed in integrity, as trusting and the doing of good is often the pilgrim's greatest challenge.

"Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart."  I know not why I even sit now to pen thoughts on such a glorious text as my cup completely runneth over. Each time I've visited this verse, that blessed plumb line of truth has descended to realign my heart with His and He has always sent me away full. I come tonight with a heaving and swollen heart; an unbelief founded on an inability to conceive of so much goodness descending at onc to me. My life has been made so dreadfully beautiful by His redemptive graces and I simply cannot believe He'd wish to so compound His goodness to me. These verses have always unlocked blessing in the spiritual, (making my temporal beautiful), but never could I realize that all those tucked hopes were what He'd wish to grow here, on this earth, to the praise of His Name.    

A new year dawns and my love for Him is as the sunrise, growing brighter until the full day. He has shone more grace and glory into this vessel than I can contain and my soul longs for nothing more than to secure and assist others on their passage to Him. He is so real, so good, so true and so wiling to condescend to any and all who would trust Him, delight in Him and do good for Him. This year comes with the advent of what seems a new love, but just now I realize it is as old as the infinite plan of His election and choosing. He has known us before the foundation of the world and conceived us in an unspeakably grand love. We are challenged, as always to trust Him in this, whether we catch the edge of His robe or trust the still, small voice which faithfully leads and will usher us surely home to Him.

Neglected Faculties

Last weekend I sat beside a fire with a few books and my journal. I'd made my way to retreat in the hills of Asheville, NC. Seeing as how Jesus had healed and saved the world by age 33, I'd been feeling I might like to take some time away to see how He might wish to use my thirty-third year.

I made a bum decision on my way down and ended up arriving later than planned. I was accompanied by guilt and the spilt hopes I seem loathe to discard. I arrived at dusk, found my room and made my way down to dinner. I sat beside a sweet woman from outside New York City, and within a short while, we'd run past the perfunctory and shared there betwixt the world of reality and the oft-untouched realm of imagination.  She seemed a dignitary's wife, but as her years unpacked there, her form betrayed a shell, and the occupied space, a burden.  We let one another in,  exchanged our respective weights, and left carrying a lighter load. 

I returned to my room and started writing. I felt I needed to pen out the thoughts that had just been there, but as commonly occurs, they fled as I sought them. I slept and woke and tried again.

I found a great armchair next to the fire, and sat there all day. Early in my time, recollections surfaced, coupling themselves to the words I was reading. Through some corridor, my mind jettisoned off and I was counting snow flakes on work crew, intermittently competing with the guys in splitting wood. I can taste the air, my running nose and four wheeler fumes. We made it down the mountain for dinner and I remember feeling that I was tasting satisfaction, right then, right there. I recalled then my morning rituals that first year in the mountains. I'd wake, slip out my tent and scramble up the deer paths in opaque western darkness. The morning air was always cold, fresh and silent.  I'd pierce the dawn with my steps and anxiously mount the steps to the chapel doors. There was often a giddy fear in knowing how many deadly critters skulked about my passage and so I'd bound through the doors and cast out all my books, pens and journals on the table. 

Those times were wild; undiminished by expectation -- every day then was truly unlike all I'd previously lived. I'd not known the Creator for the 20 preceding years so each day seemed a novelty.  I'd wander the trails and His word would dance about my mind, imbuing the layers previously tarnished and tainted by sin. His beauty would rise like the light in that wind-whipped canyon, its rays waxed to waning as the seasons changed. My eyes, too, would fall on different places and His truth would light that up as well. 

The winter came and the world seemed to hush and moan. I'd find a corner somewhere, always, sometimes with another, often, in solitude and I'd scratch and scribble all the delights that had risen there in faith. My heart was tended, so sweetly tended, in those short, bitter days.

I could long recall the stacked days of that first year. As I sat beside the fire last weekend, my mind was sheltered at the entrance of my imagination. That other world has been seldom visited these past seasons, fostering banality and insecurity in my flesh. The topography of my mind changed as He beckoned me to lean back in to see and believe afresh. I now speak out of that rekindled love,  and have been gaily tromping back throughthe worn themes which have now supported me these past 13 years. I'm trusting Him for the best year yet. My hopes are not bundled from experience or fueled by desire, but stand rather on the cleared bedrock of the word of God, firmly planted in the tended soil of this pilgrim's soul. I am expecting great things of my great God -- all because of His great Name.