Favored One

“Inside Out” is a wonderful movie about the exploration of emotions. We enter the world of eleven-year-old Riley, who experiences joy, fear, anger, disgust, and sadness over the prospect of moving to a new city. Along the way, young viewers learn a new vocabulary for expressing their own feelings. Some old ones do, too.

One of the blessings of the psalms is that they give voice to our many emotions. Think of them as a pre-Pixar “Inside Out”. All the “feels” are there as we see them finding expression for everything we are going through on a daily basis. The relevance of these writings is timeless.

Today’s psalm is no exception, as we see David once again fleeing for his life. This time it is his own son Absalom who was the pursuer. Absalom’s successful rebellion has driven David out of Jerusalem. In his distress, David expressed all of those emotions in just the first five verses. We see him cry out loud to God in fear. We see him disgusted with those who claim that God won’t help him. We see his anger against the many who stand against him. We see his sadness that people are talking about him. And finally, we see joy in his ability to feel confidence in his identity as a child of God, who is his shield. Can you relate to any of this? I can.

Psalm 3:1-5 (Common English Bible)

Lord, I have so many enemies!
    So many are standing against me.
So many are talking about me:
    “Even God won’t help him.” Selah

But you, Lord, are my shield!
    You are my glory!
    You are the one who restores me.
I cry out loud to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain. Selah
I lie down, sleep, and wake up
    because the Lord helps me.

By the way, “Selah” is a device in the psalms that offers a pause. It gives the reader/singer a chance to reflect before moving on. I recently told a group at a woman’s retreat that it is like saying, “Yo!” after a meaningful phrase. But I digress.

This psalm gives us permission to feel all those same things. Joy, sadness, anger, disgust, and fear are just some of the emotions we can run through on a daily basis. How we handle those feelings is an indication of where we are on our walk with Jesus. 

David handled his emotions with the confidence of a favored son. Do you know that you are God’s favored as well? And like David, God will answer us when we cry out, whether in silent prayer or by raising our voices and shouting to the heavens.

And don’t miss David’s dismissal of the people who talked behind his back and assumed that because of his past sin record, God would not come to his aid. David responds with a great big “But” and counters that God is his shield, his glory, and is the one who restores him. David knew that he was not defined by his past mistakes, but rather was defined by the future glory that came with his repentance and God’s forgiveness. Do you know that as well, or are you letting your past define your present?

Psalm 3 is a beautiful reminder of God’s continuing presence in our every emotion. It is a clear declaration that God’s mercy is always available to us when we cry out to our mighty God. 

Need help? Your Shield stands at the ready.

God’s Glory by Becca Ziegler

Loving Like Family

This morning I was reminded that Hurricane Irene hit the Outer Banks with a vengeance eleven years ago this week. I was immediately transported back in time. My mother lived in a waterfront condo 30 minutes away in Manteo and her building’s elevator system was wiped out, so she came to live with us until it was repaired. I stepped into the role of “disaster relief coordinator” for my church and organized teams to go and help people muck out from the flood waters. Two teams from my home conference and church came from Georgia and we deployed them to a small church in Stumpy Point and to local homes to help with clean up and repair. It was a time of great exhaustion but also great joy, seeing my new church in Kitty Hawk come together in such a beautiful way.

In my own home, we suffered $25,000. worth of damage. A chimney blew apart, bringing rainwater into two rooms for days, and a large dock was dismantled in the raging storm. We also lost two cars. A few days after the hurricane subsided, a neighbor from down our canal rang our doorbell to say that part of our dock had landed intact on his boat lift, and would we please come and get it off. I immediately called my chain saw crew from church and gave them the address.

Hebrews 13 was part of last week’s lectionary assignment, and it fits perfectly with this memory today. I was privileged to see my church love each other like family. I was privileged to watch people open their homes to others. I was privileged to see church members donate supplies and food to the needy, never counting the cost. I was privileged to learn once again that the Lord is our helper, and we need not be afraid.

Hebrews 13 (Common English Bible)

13 Keep loving each other like family. 2 Don’t neglect to open up your homes to guests, because by doing this some have been hosts to angels without knowing it. 3 Remember prisoners as if you were in prison with them, and people who are mistreated as if you were in their place. 4 Marriage must be honored in every respect, with no cheating on the relationship, because God will judge the sexually immoral person and the person who commits adultery. 5 Your way of life should be free from the love of money, and you should be content with what you have. After all, he has said, I will never leave you or abandon you. 6 This is why we can confidently say,

The Lord is my helper,
and I won’t be afraid.
What can people do to me?

Have you ever been in a time of great distress and saw the Lord rush to your aid? Can you tell that story to someone who needs a reminder today? We need not be afraid with the Lord at our side.

7 Remember your leaders who spoke God’s word to you. Imitate their faith as you consider the way their lives turned out. 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

Your life circumstances will change with the prevailing winds. Storms will come and go. People will come and go. But Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Thanks be to God!

Seating for Two