Hey y’all! Every quarter I write for my amazing home church here in Nashville. Today I have a post up over there, so take a look for September 7 here.
Confession moment: I adore the British royal family. I like reading about them, watching films and documentaries on them. Maybe it’s the fascination with their structure and history that I just don’t see with our democratic structure here in the US. Or that I love the British in general.
I watched the news of Princess Kate’s third pregnancy announcement yesterday excitedly. Yay for other people having babies! I noticed on one news outlet’s coverage of the announcement they had the succession to the throne mapped out. With this announcement, Prince Harry (William’s brother, second son to Prince Charles) has now slid to sixth in line for the throne.
Something he has no control over-his birth order and the pregnancies of his sister in law- dictate what he will be able to do with his future. I can’t imagine that or what his desires might be, or how he is able to rectify that how dynamic.
I thought on that more as I read further into King David’s life in the Old Testament. He’d already incurred his own sons trying to overthrow his rule. Now as he lay on his deathbed word comes that his 4th son (one that in the natural succession line would take the throne) has decided to thwart his father’s-and God’s-plan for Solomon to assume the throne. He meets in secret with those who aren’t loyal to his father and then publicly sacrifices offerings to name himself the new king.
My thoughts went directly to questioning Abinojah and his crafty nature. He had no control over his father’s proclamation, or God’s larger plan. So instead of acquiescing to the plans he takes them into his own hands to manipulate and control. Then I saw a lot of myself in him…desiring to control his own life and what he felt was his. His life, his plan, his control.
How hard is it to accept God’s plan when it’s not what you would’ve made for yourself? How difficult is it to rectify your desires and plans with God’s? What do we sacrifice in order to live within the authority of God Himself in every area of our life?
I know for me I’d much rather have the control and say so, being able to pursue the desires I deem worthy and good. But that’s not what God plans for us most of the time. He wants good for us, but not on our terms and in our ways. It’s a life of bowing in submission to the throne, to the rule and authority of God Himself and how that looks in our life…and not in anyone else’s. It means realizing we cannot control which a Sovereign God controls.
It means that sometimes we are sixth in line to succeed and we must relinquish any idea that we can control that.
If you haven’t noticed, I have been studying the life of David lately. If you don’t know, I am a Paul lady. Like hard-core crushing on him fandom. I have been for years. But the more I dig into David’s life I see why he was the man after God’s own heart. I see not so much the perfection of kingship, the shepherd turned victor.
I see the imperfect. I see the man. I see a man who went hard to be in wait for God’s promise, who was humbled in worship of God because he saw glimpses of the glory of God, promises fulfilled by only Him. I connect to the intimacy David sought with God. But the biggest piece I am learning in David’s life is that he went to inquire of God. Not of others, not of his own mind. He went to God before anyone or anything else early in his life (we aren’t to Bathsheba yet y’all).
Before engaging in a battle, he went to God.
I mean c’mon y’all. Do you do that? I’ll own that I do not. I let worry, fret and anxiety rule my mind and heart rather than going into intimate time before God to seek His will and direction in it. I either avoid battle or bear down straight into it a la Jon Snow at the Battle of the Bastards in season 6 (you know what I mean). I let emotions rule, or compartmentalize them away into avoidance.
Yet David, the great warrior and king in the Old Testament stops to convene with God, to seek God above all else. Because that’s what God desires of us, to seek Him out and be in intimate relationship with Him. To be the first we run to in times of worry and anxiety, not the very last.
It means instead of running through best and worst case scenarios, we run to His feet. Instead of searching through our friend list to text out for prayers, we search our hearts and minds for the lies that have shaken our foundation in Him. Instead of posting to social media vague diatribes for commentary, we sit in silence with God, listening for Him.
My life, my heart, could do with more of God and less with worry. Could yours? When the worries come, and they will, can we cling to God alone, taking them to Him and then listening for Him? Can we still our anxious hearts in the firm foundation of Christ, and allow our sense of control to be relinquished to God? Can we turn to songs of praise in the midst because the Lord of all has given us a place of refuge and is in control of it all?
Psalm 34 is not only a song of David but a battle cry of facing anxiety and worry. It’s one that I have found to bring me back to intimacy to God instead of running after the fear misplaced in this world and circumstances. Recently I stumbled upon the Psalms album from Shane and Shane with their version of Psalm 34 as well.
I will bless the Lord at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
let the humble hear and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
I sought the Lord, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
(Psalm 34: 1-8 (ESV))
Ever have one of those times where you know you are being utterly ridiculous and yet you find that you just dive head first into it? Just me? Oh good.
I have a multitude of friends who are currently pregnant right now, like it’s crazy how many women I know expecting in the next three months. It’s that stage of my life where the weddings have subsided and the pregnancies have come flooding in. And I am so overjoyed for each one, to see God use my friends to raise up the next generation. Unfortunately I found that feelings and emotions of being left out, a reminder of the lie that I am alone kept bubbling up at times.
When I saw a woman I was distant friends with post that she was now engaged it caused all the emotions of being left out and doubting God to just flood out of nowhere. I am truly happy for her, but in that moment, I made it about me. I made it about the lies that are fed to us over and over again, to doubt God and to step outside of His promise for our lives. I was shocked at how suddenly it felt like a tide of just utter bitterness, jealousy and outright frustration with God Himself came pouring out of me. Y’all, it wasn’t pretty and it definitely wasn’t the marker of a friend or a guarded heart.
It was a flashing warning light that an area of my heart had been breached and was undergoing attack. That I had allowed it to go unmaintained and unchecked because so easily I slip into this comfort zone of life and put myself on autopilot. For a bit I sat in that mood, in that temperament of just irritation and doubt. As I turned to the consoling nature that social media likes to tell us it is, a verse was at the very top of a post and it dug right into the real issue-a clean heart and a steadfast spirit.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Jealousy and doubt had wormed in and shaken my spirit. I had allowed them in because I wasn’t resting in the steadfast spirit God establishes. Nope, I was resting in the comfort of my own strength (which is just weakness with an ego in the flesh) and my own way. I was deliberately choosing to doubt instead of trust in what I know to be true. To trust in WHO I know to be true.
And it’s hard y’all. It’s hard not to live in that jealousy and doubt, to not just walk away and do it in my own way, but He’s shown again and again He is faithful to what He has promised-which is my good. Not what I define as my good, but the very best that He knows there is for me. But I have to make the choice, over and over again, to seek Him to create that clean heart in me and to renew that spirit of steadfastness. I have to be dutifully firm in the spirit He has created in me. Unwavering when so many things seek to buffet me about.
It doesn’t mean I don’t get excited when friends share their news of an engagement or an expected arrival of a baby, or the purchase of a new car or a thousand other things. Because that is God’s goodness for them in their lives, and He’s got some pretty amazing things planned for me as well if I but remain steadfast in spirit. It means I deliberately choose to not doubt in those moments, but take them to Him with an honest heart.
“Also the Lord tells you that He will make you a house.” 2 Samuel 7:11 (NKJV)
Ever made plans and they didn’t go as you had expected? Like they were really great plans, ones you were excited about and had put much thought into and it just kind of felt like a big NO was stamped across every bit of it?
I wonder if that’s how David felt when he felt led to build a house for the Lord. It was something worthy and honoring to God, a temple to give Him a home that wasn’t makeshift and temporary. He looked to making plans for it, securing the materials, and then God said “No.” But here’s the bigger rub of it all. God said no to the temple but yes to Him building David a house that would last beyond the materials, an eternal legacy befitting their relationship and honoring God all the more.
I mean y’all, that’s pretty amazing right?
As I looked at these verses again and saw the covenantal promise from God here in second Samuel, I couldn’t help but reflect on how I like to tell God what I want to do for Him, for His kingdom. Much like David, we know He is to be honored, given all the glory for Who He is, and all that He has done and will do. But we put our spin on it, our hands on the design thinking we know better how He should be given the glory. We mean the very best out of it, just as David did in building a temple. We just haven’t listened for God in it. We haven’t removed ourselves into His Presence alone to see where He would have us be.
When I look at these words deeper in second Samuel, I see God coming close. To tell Davie that He would be the One to set up the house for him, not the other way around. In these words, in David’s life, and in our very own, He is revealing an aspect of Himself to David and to us, His sovereignty, a glimpse at His plan in the promise. We don’t get that if we are busy going our own way, even in the very best of intentions.
It isn’t about what we can do for Him, but what He is doing in and through us to reveal Himself because He is God.
Can you imagine being hand-picked for something specific for your life and then being told to wait on it? You. Picked out because of exactly what you are right in that moment. To take on a specific role you are destined for. And then told you’d need to wait.
Oh and in that wait, you’ll face such obstacles that your life is at stake?
And yet, you remain in the wait. Fully trusting God. Knowing He’s in full control of every bit of the situation and He is faithful to keep the promise if you but remain in wait.
I couldn’t help but think on that phrase “to remain in wait” as I digested the story of David over the last bit. To be promised the kingship but told to wait. Ensured of the throne by God Himself but not yet. And in that remaining David honored God. He anguished over even tearing the robe of the king…the very one who was seeking to take his life across the mountains.
David sought God, not for what he knew was his by promise. Not to put his expectations on the God of Israel. No, he sought God to be in relationship with Him and Him alone. During that wait, David could have taken control, could have used the promise to usurp the throne, but he remained in wait. He found the intimate place with God in that wait. Remaining in it.
That’s hard to honor Him when we are told to remain in wait. It’s hard not to doubt the Promise Giver, not to usurp control for ourselves because the wait has gotten too much. The wait has led to battle, to refuge seeking, to fleeing into what can be seen as solitude and aloneness. Yet, we are called to remain in the wait for what He has promised. Not something less than, not for something of our own making and taking. For the exact promise He has given us.
When we remain in that wait, we get to be in the rest and of the intimate place with God, seeking Him and not the object of the promise He has given. We remain in the wait with Him, for Him.
I love a good war speech. The bravado and confidence as warriors go out to fight, called to bear arms by their leader. But I love the underdog in it too, where the cards are obviously stacked against them and there’s just zero way they can pull this out. Led often times by a humble individual who knows the call to lead. (One of the many reasons I do love me some Jon Snow and Sir Davos’ intro to the queen on GoT)
Maybe that’s why I love David’s speech in 1 Samuel as he goes out to face Goliath. Like I fist pump the air when I read it, that’s how much I love it. But it’s not because of any confidence in David’s strength or abilities, but his absolute love for God and trust in God’s provision of victory in battle. David doesn’t mention once in that speech before the giant his own victories over a bear and a lion….y’all, a bear and a lion.
Nope, David points directly to the God of hosts. The God of hosts will deliver the Philistines, He will strike down Goliath. It is all in His hands and His power because He is the God of hosts. I’d often bypassed one of God’s titles in my reading simply out of habit. But this is more than God’s title, it’s a descriptor of Who He is, part of Him. You see, God of hosts means that all the created agencies and powers are under the dominion of Yahweh, our God. He is sovereign and He is power.
Here Goliath is talking about his spear, his might, his shield bearer going out before him….and David’s pointing to the All-Mighty God as his weapon. I mean y’all. How triumphant and fist-pumping are those words from David? The God of all armies is on his side? Yes and thank you.
It’s not a false speech, dependent upon man’s strength or power. It’s not a swagger of false bravado. It is the words that are full of praise and soul-digging truth, that the God of all hosts goes before us into battle. He is with us and is strong enough for any battle that is calling us to the field. Those giants may taunt with words, they may scare with swords and spears, but He is our God. He is THE God of all armies. Power and might are His.
Here’s my question for myself today…Do I take that same trust and truth into my own battlefield? Do I confront the giants in my life with my confidence in God or in my self?