Awake, My Soul

dawn

That’s the verse I’m memorizing this week. Psalm 57:8. The reason I am claiming this verse today isn’t because I pulled out my harp when I got out of bed. I identify with this verse because I don’t always awake full of the courage or desire to live out the joy of the Cross. Heck, I very rarely wake up with desire to do much of anything except plot when I can next take a nap or go to sleep.

If you open your Bible and turn to Psalm 57 you will see  inscription that preceeds the song. My Bible says: “Of David.  A miktam. When he had fled from Saul into the cave.”

A miktam was most likely a musical notation or title for psalms of penance for sin. (Jennifer Rothschild – Me, Myself & Lies) David was running for his life when this Psalm was written. He had likely been on the run for years. He spends the first portion of the passage asking for mercy and crying out to God. I picture him poring out these words on the verge of tears:

Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy on me, for in you my soul takes refuge.  I will take refuge in the shadow of your wings until the disaster has passed. (Psalm 57:1)

The passage continues as David anguishes over His situation. He lists his worries to the Lord. And then, starting in verse 7, the tone of the passage begins to make a shift.

“My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing and make music. Awake, my soul! Awake, harp and lyre!  I will awaken the dawn. I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.” (Psalm 57:7-11)

David is in real danger. He probably hasn’t slept, bathed, or had a regular meal in days. He is lonely and probably feeling anything but courageous.

I know that when I become overwhelmed I want to crawl up into a ball and have a good long cry until everything has blown over. I want God to swoop in and just fix it.

David demonstrates reliance upon God, but he also makes a choice when it comes to his emotions. David chooses to praise God in the midst of terror. He commands himself, “Don’t sleep through this!Don’t trust your heart, trust God!  Get up and get moving!”  David’s heart might have been telling him to hide, to distrust God (after all, wasn’t David SUPPOSED to be the King?), and to even check out for a while. Instead, David knew how important it was to be awake and alert.

The Hebrew word translated awake means “wake, life up (self), stir up (self).” (Rotschild)

I’m not saying it’s easy, and I’m certainly not saying that this is my usual behavior. I just want to point out the example of David. He’s worn out from the fight and yet he commands his soul to praise the Lord. His attitude and response are his choice. Your attitude and response in the midst of exhaustion are your choice.

Living wide awake is a choice.

Following,
Ginger

Remembering His Timing

I’m sharing one of my all-time favorite posts today. I can’t talk about trusting God’s timing without sharing part of the story of His timing in my love life. My husband is just one of the blessings to arrive when I least expected it…

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

Blog post from October 17, 2012

His timing, His purposes, His wisdom…

In July of 2009 I turned down an amazing job at one of my favorite places on earth that would have subsequently taken me back to Texas. I was convinced that God had me in the desert to see things through. I started my job in the youth department, jumped back on stage in a local theatre production, began planning for an in-house girl’s conference, and made preparations to travel to Mozambique with the church. I felt like God had showered opportunity and blessing in spades! But mountain tops tend to come with their fair share of valleys. The end of September found me discouraged, opportunities removed, and with loneliness entering the picture in a very real and palpable way.

10-1-2009 | Journal Entry

I feel like I’ve become an emotional mess. I see myself not able to take any of the advice and wisdom I give to others. I am no more able to take every thought captive than I am to keep from crying when someone asks me how I’m doing. I am giving far too much weight to the opinions of others. I am not clinging to Him alone. I lay on my bed and wept several times last night. The only thing that could stop my crying was to read Psalms aloud at full force through the tears. I am fighting loneliness, I am fighting self-deprecation, I am fighting… and

I feel like I am losing.

I shared as much with a few near and dear ones who came to my side and poured gentle truth onto my searing wounds. A friend wrote me a long letter and I copied these few sentences and pasted them into my journal…

Do you trust him? Do you really believe that what he has is better, even if it significantly harder and costs you more?  

A few days later my mother forwarded this devotional to encourage my heart…

Before the Flood, God had said, “Come into the ark” (Gen. 7:1, NKJV). The clear implication was that God was already inside, inviting Noah to join Him there. After the Flood, when God said, “Come out of the ark” (Gen. 8:16, NIV), the implication is that He had left and was asking Noah to follow. The great God of the Exodus Who led His people out of bondage to slavery in Egypt, parting the Red Sea to allow them to pass on dry ground and so escape the armies of Pharaoh – that same great God led Noah, his wife, his sons, his sons’ wives, and all the animals out of the ark!

God’s greatness has not been diluted in any way over the years of time. He is just as great today as He has been in the past. So why do you think He cannot lead you out of trouble? Why would you think He cannot lead your entire life so that you find peace and fulfillment? Why do you think He is unable to lead your children in the right direction that will be pleasing to Him and good for them? God is great! (Anne Graham Lotz)

And I began to cling to hope.

10-15-2009 | Journal Entry

What do I know to be true?

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you. (Psalm 33:18-22, NIV)

You watch, your eyes are on those who fear you. Your love is unfailing. You deliver from death. You keep those who hope in you alive during famine. You are my shield and my help. You cause my heart to rejoice. We wait in hope for you. Your name is holy. Your love rests upon us. I put my hope in you.

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)

You are CLOSE to me and you save me even in my broken spirit.

On November 2, 2009 I met the man who is now my husband. The journal entries from November are filled with excitement and joy; a far cry from the hurts of September and October. I watched the Lord stand as my shield and help during some of my saddest moments, and I watched wide-eyed as He brought me to a place of abundance.

Today we celebrate our 2nd anniversary. I look back on the heartaches of 2009 and am so thankful for the love and support from friends and family who encouraged me to never stop seeking and trusting. I wanted adventure, direction, and healing in MY timing and within MY parameters. When I was willing to release my grasp and trust His lead, I could slowly glimpse the unexpected and beautiful story He was telling… in His perfect timing.

10-17-2010

 ”In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.” Proverbs 16:9

Amen.

Following and remembering,
Ginger

Not to Forget

Psalm 105: 1-7 (NIV)

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
    tell of all his wonderful acts.
Glory in his holy name;
    let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
Look to the Lord and his strength;
    seek his face always.

Remember the wonders he has done,
    his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
you his servants, the descendants of Abraham,
    his chosen ones, the children of Jacob.
He is the Lord our God;
    his judgments are in all the earth.

REMEMBER.

Psalm 106:12-13, 20-21 (NIV)

“Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his counsel… They exchanged their Glory for an image of a bull, which eats grass. They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things.

I do not want to forget. I want to remember the God who has done great things in my life…

He gave me a loving family.
He brought me to camp.
He gave me encouragement to live my passion.
He protected my heart and life.
He taught me to love through pain.
He showed me the way I should go.
He cultivated my story.
He directed my steps and journey.
He granted experiences.
He spoke to my heart.
He brought me to the desert.
He gave me countless opportunities.
He granted failure and favor.
He has given me a home.
He richly blessed me.
He granted the desires of my heart.
The Lord has done great things for me.
I will remember!

newtonPerhaps today is the day to make your own Psalm 105. Let’s remember what He has done for each of us, the way He has woven our stories. Let’s not forget.

Following,
Ginger

Heart Check

REVIVE: To regain consciousness of life: to become attractive or flourishing again.

1. To restore to consciousness [the quality or state of being aware – especially of something within oneself] or life
2. To restore from a depressed, inactive, or unused state: bring back
3. To renew the mind or memory

I read this definition and immediately thought about the revitalization of the human heart. I don’t know about you, but sometimes my heart just feels… dead. I want to be moved toward compassion, humility, and love, and yet too often I find myself too exhausted or unmoved. So how do we revive a tired heart or passionless living?

Assess your heart situation.

1. Ask for eyes to see the condition of your heart.

“God, examine me and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.  See if there is any bad thing in me.  Lead me on the road to everlasting life.”  Psalm 139:23-24, NCV

The example is set before us over and over again in the Psalms. When in doubt, we ask the One who knows.

“Won’t you revive us again, so your people can rejoice in you?”  Psalm 85:6, NLT

2. Examine your treasure.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21, NIV                                                                                 

Jesus loves faith-filled risk for the glory of God. There aren’t rules on how to spend your money… but there is always a choice: good or best. Our joy should come from God – not from stuff!  The challenge is to live for experiences, not possessions!

3. Examine your foundation.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” Matthew 7:24-27, NIV

Roof

I ask this question to almost every group that I address. “Is God your foundation, or is He your roof?” For most of my life I lived as if God were the roof over my life. He covered everything. He was at my private school, my church, in our family devotions, even in the music I listened to on the radio. He was a wonderful roof. But God longs to be our foundation. My life took a totally different trajectory when I consciously claimed Him as my foundation. He went from an after-thought to my first thought. That shift was brought real passion to my life and heart. So… “Is God your foundation, or is He your roof?” Big difference. The answer matters.

“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on. If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” Luke 6:46-49, The Message

I know this list isn’t an all-encompassing answer… but it’s a start.

Examining,
Ginger

I Will Remember

I’ve written about remembering before.  The theme of remembering what God has done replays itself over and over throughout the Old Testament.  As I finished reading Psalms yesterday I couldn’t help but stop and remember how faithful He has been.

Sometimes I make it so easy to forget. I get caught up in my schedule, deadlines, needs, wants and fears.

In the midst of stress and worry I forget the ways that He has taught me, wooed me, loved me, and brought me through.  Making the move to Arizona by myself was one of the most challenging parts of my journey thus far.  I battled loneliness, wanting so badly to bloom where He had planted me.

My home in Arizona is filled with friendships born in this desert, a marriage born in this desert, and faith in my Father through experience rather than tradition. Today I chose to remember the way He has carried me through…


June 2007
The crazy thing is that I’ve spent the last few conversations convincing everyone (including myself) that things couldn’t be peachier out in the desert.  And yes, some days I might describe with a peach, however, other days are less like a peach and more like raw hamburger meat.  I’m quick to remind myself that no matter my location, my days would be varied.

As the plane left the muggy runway Tuesday evening I could not get control of my tears. I’m so glad I had the window seat because I’m sure I would have drawn lots of attention from the short woman next to me whose business suit was 4 inches too long at the wrist and ankle hems.  Instead I stared out the window at the greenery that is not the desert and reminded myself once again of Abraham’s journey from the land of Ur, a place he had called home for 90 years before he received quite a different calling from the Lord.  Surely he must’ve had a meat day every once in a while.

This distance from all that is familiar and dear has left me pretty emotional lately.  I’ve been feeling slightly less than peachy.  It all came to a head as I pulled my car into my apartment complex and a song came on a mixed cd.  I lost it.  Not just the tears, the deep wrenching sobs.  I pulled into my brightly lit spot and prayed my neighbors would not choose that moment to make a trip to Wal-mart.  (Also, do not go to Wal-mart at 6:30 pm on a Friday.  Bad Choice.) I managed to put the car in park and pull my knees up in front of the steering wheel.  It’s not that this is hard; per say… it’s just that being home would be easier.  I don’t want to live for easy…but boy doesn’t that sound… well, easier?

I could pack it all up and be home in a week if I wanted.  But I don’t really want to do that.  Things are just getting interesting, exciting even.  There are big transitions coming at work and I truly want to be a part of what is happening here.  I’m even going to take my first Seminary class in August.  Who would have thought?

So as I sat hugging my knees, the song continued to play and I heard these words over and over:

“You hold my hand, through all of my struggles, you carry me through.   You hold my hand; though dark surrounds me – You carry me through.  Patience, a thousand years and a day it’s all the same, oh to you, the God of Space and Time – I will wait on You. Do not be afraid, for I am your God.” [Song: ‘My God’ from Freedom Time by Colin Bates. ]

I let my crying subside before I took a deep breath and popped the trunk.  I had groceries to take upstairs.  And somehow, even though my arms felt like they were going to rip from their sockets because of the weight of the bags, I knew I wouldn’t be crying anymore tonight.  No guarantee for tomorrow… but I’m hopeful.

“I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.”  Psalm 57:2

“How great is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you, which you bestow in the sight of me on those who take refuge in you.”  Psalm 31:19

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“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope.”  Psalm 130:5

Today, I remember.

 

 

“I REMEMBER the days of long ago; I meditate on all your works and consider what your hands have done.”  Psalm 143:5

Following and remembering,
Ginger