I know that things are not exactly how we would prefer them right now. However, there have been some unexpected benefits to things. I know it has been nice not filling my gas tank up multiple times a week. I have enjoyed not losing so much of my day in traffic either. But the thing that has been the most pleasant and enjoyable is spending more time outside. Most of you know that I have two boys aged 7 and 8. As soon as we can get our school work done and I am finished seeing clients through zoom, we head outside. A lot of our afternoons have been filled with basketball in the driveway, bike rides through the neighborhood or other made-up games in the yard. This extra time of connection, exercise, and sunlight has been good for my soul, especially in the midst of uncertainty.
Now, I’ve shared several times with you all that I love the outdoors. One of the most memorable experiences of my life was 5 years ago when I went backpacking in Colorado. I love nature, mountains, and seeing the beauty of God’s handiwork. When we climbed the first mountain in Snowmass, I looked out and thought, “God, You’re just showing off with how beautiful this is.” There has always been a connection with nature and God for me, even when I was younger and didn’t really understand it. When I need to process something, I prefer to be in nature. For my family, one of our favorite activities is to hike in parks or walk on greenways.
So, why am I sharing all of this? I know that in times of frustration, uncertainty, or anxiety, connecting with God is most important. Honestly, we need to stay connected with God at all times, both good and bad. And, this is even more true when we feel like things may be falling apart or things may be scary. When we can connect with God we find the peace and comfort we need. In our family devotion time this week, we read part of Psalm 27. Tradition holds that this Psalm, authored by David, and possible another as well, was written as David had to flee from Saul. Specifically, it is believed that David wrote this Psalm after he had an experience where the priests of God in the city of Nob gave him shelter and food. When it was reported to Saul that David was with the priests, Saul had them executed due to his hatred and fear of David. I am sure David felt a high level of guilt, fear, and anxiety in this season. I am sure some of us have feelings of fear and anxiety too. So, I wanted to read this psalm and offer a few reflections.
The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour[a] me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.
3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.
4 One thing I ask from the Lord,
this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.
6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.
7 Hear my voice when I call, Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
8 My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
9 Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
God my Savior.
10 Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
11 Teach me your way, Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
12 Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
spouting malicious accusations.
13 I remain confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
14 Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
My first reflection is to remember verses 1 and 8. The Lord is our stronghold. This is protection and a place where we can let go of fear. Too often, we hold onto fear because that seems more comfortable. If I live in fear, I am constantly looking for things to hurt me or betray me. I react to situations instead of responding to them. Reacting in fear can cause me to hurt people before I assume they will hurt me. It can cause me to make decisions that do not allow me to help others and be generous. I may miss opportunities to demonstrate faith and hope for others. However, if I believe that I am safe in the Lord’s presence and I do what verse 8 says and seek His face, I open myself up to living in His purpose and power instead of fear, I can make the difference I am created to make. Side note, I am not saying to be reckless because I trust in God. So, continue washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and being careful. That’s stewardship of your health and knowledge that God gives us. But, I would say live in the confidence of God’s power and purpose for your life.
Another reflection is that David calls out to God to not reject him or for God to hide His face from David. I think there are times when we feel that God is listening and doesn’t care. Or, maybe we feel that God is angry with us and has abandoned us. Or, maybe we feel that we are an accident and God didn’t really want us. To that I say, you are a wonderfully and beautifully made bearer of God’s image. Your face is a reflection of His face. No matter what you look like, where you are from, what language you speak, what your talents or struggles are. You are made in His image. Trust that God is not hiding from you. Call to Him. Seek Him. Trust in Him. Remember you have a plan from Him. And in that, may the peace that comes only from God fill your heart. You are not the sum of your mistakes. You are the sum of God’s grace and the bearer of His image.
So, thanks for spending a few minutes with me today. I pray that God’s peace is with you. I pray that you have health and protection. And, I pray that soon we can worship together. We as the church miss you and are thankful that you continue to engage with us through these devotions and with our online worship. Before I sign off, would you pray with me?
Dear God, thank You for Your presence in our lives. Thank You for the hope of Your grace and protection. Thank you that in all times we can seek Your face. I pray that Your will and power is revealed to all of us in this season and that we can live as Your people. Amen.