Friday, July 13, 2018

Psalm 51: God Doesn't Want Our Sunday Best. {He Wants Our Broken Mess.}

Hey Friends, Hannah here to bring you week 7 of Summer in the Psalms. A little behind the scenes before we dive in to this week’s Psalm. When Andrea suggested we do Psalms throughout the summer, it was an immediate “yes!” from me. You see, last summer I read through the Psalms and it rocked my world! I love the Psalms because they are completely relatable – with every range of emotion present in the writings. One of many lessons learned while reading – bring your every emotion to God, every doubt, question, or celebration – bring it to Him! I am so excited that you are reading along with us. I do challenge you to read through Psalms in its entirety. I firmly believe you will never be the same because scripture is like that.


Ok let’s get going! This week we dive in to Psalms 51. To be completely honest, I somewhat was voluntold to do this one. It wasn’t my original plan, but I have enjoyed picking it apart. It is rich and deep. Psalm 51 is likely familiar to you. Familiar or not – stop right now, pull out your Bible or your phone, and read through its entirety.

Now that you have read (I am trusting you on this), a little back ground for you. Psalm 51 was written by David after coming to terms with his sin. 2 Samuel 11&12:1-24 is what is happening prior and during his writing of this Psalm. 2 Samuel is action packed and full of drama. So much so that 2 Samuel 11 starts with an affair and ends with murder. A quick run-down – David is chilling on the roof, spots Bathsheba, calls for her, has sex with her and she gets pregnant. Bathsheba is married to Uriah who is off fighting in the war. David tries to cover his tracks and “right his wrongs” by calling for Uriah to come home and encourages him to “go to his wife” (if you know what I am saying!). Uriah being the loyal soldier he is, won’t do it. Even after David takes a step forward and gets Uriah drunk he still won’t go home. So, what else is David to do but arrange the death of Uriah by putting him on the frontline. (Quick lesson here: we can’t right our own wrongs.)

According to commentary, David sits in his sin without repenting for a good amount of time. Several months pass – maybe even a year, and David has not confessed and repented of his sins to God. So, the Lord sent Nathan to speak truth and to help point David back to his first love – thus we get Psalm 51 – David’s repentance and reconciliation to God.

There is so much here for us – promises of reconciliation, unfailing love, great compassion and overwhelming grace. But for my sanity, I want to focus on three points.

1.      We can be clean.

We are all sinners in this world (Romans 3:23). The only exception is Jesus Christ. None of us better than the other, all dirty on our own accord. But the good news, the Gospel, is that we are forgiven from our sin. True repentance, confessing and turning from our sin, results in unfailing love and compassion from the Good Father.  God meets our sin with overwhelming grace. So much so that we don’t have to wear our scarlet letter or carry the guilt of our sin like a heavy load of dirty clothes. Not only does he forgive us but Hebrews 8:12 says “For I will forgive their wickedness and I will never again remember their sins.” If you have never confessed your sin and taken this step in becoming a believer in Jesus or you like David have been hiding in shadow of your sin for a season, follow David’s lead in Psalm 51:7 and pray “Purify me from my sins and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” Dear friend, confess your sins and then walk as someone covered in righteousness of Jesus Christ not as someone cast down in shame.

2.      Be the Nathan to your David.

As believers, we are called to repentance, but we are also called point others to Jesus with our words and our actions. Sometimes that means we bring to light the sin in the lives of our people. However, before we do that, we need to get ourselves together. Matthew 7:3-7 says “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of the log in your own eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrites! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” Go get yo’ self together by repenting first (see point #1). Then at the Lord’s direction and only at the Lord’s direction, speak truth to your friend. Don’t be afraid to step on their toes, but most of all remind them of the grace and forgiveness that is given in place of their sin. After Nathan and David’s conversation, David was immediately convicted and turned from his sin. It is important to note that it took some time before David repented prior to this conversation. Being the Nathan to our David, doesn’t mean that our friends will automatically come back to God. Sometimes it means that we have a conversation and/or pray and believe God’s promises for them, waiting for their reconciliation. Don’t give up hope.

On a personal note, I hate confrontation. Being a Nathan stresses me out. There have been times in my life that I felt the Lord calling me to be a Nathan and I didn’t listen. I was fearful of burning a bridge and loosing a friend so I didn’t. Guess what, I lost the friend anyways. Moral of the story, be obedient no matter what the price, friends.

3.      God doesn’t want our Sunday best. He wants our broken mess.

We will wrap up here with my favorite point of the post. I have come to terms that I am a lot messy and broken both literally (I type this with a broken foot) and figuratively. But I find so much hope in Psalm 51:17. It says “The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” God doesn’t want us to clean up first before we come to Him. Get this, He already knows our biggest and darkest secrets, our most shameful moments, and our messy past. We don’t have to hide from Him. He wants us to come just as we are. The sacrifice he wants from us is our actual mess. God wants you and your sin, you and your anger, you and your broken heart, you and all your ugly. You don’t have to dress up to come to the throne. Bring it all. You won’t be rejected. In fact, not only will you be welcomed but your brokenness will be traded for beauty because of Jesus.

Dear Lord,


Thank you for mercy, grace and forgiveness. Help us to turn from our sin, point others to Jesus and to bring every part of our broken lives to you. You are the God of restoration and healing. We believe in you for that today.

Amen.





For continued worship -


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Psalm 40: Know Your Need {The God of Our Every Moment}

by Andrea Noles

Here we are, smack dab in the middle of summer.
Beaches are covered, sprinklers are on go, and all the fireworks have been let off (well, most)!

So how are you?
How’s your soul?
How’s your mind?
What is God teaching you?

Well, that surely was intrusive.
But, sometimes I just like to cut to the chase.
Sometimes I can’t stand all the small talk we humans do and I just want to ask questions that matter.

Anyone else ever feel this way?
I have a few friends in my life that are the best question askers. I could sit for hours and talk the day away.

So let’s talk dear friend.
Can we put on the brakes for a bit and assess our summer selves?
I found this fun little Fruit of the Spirit quiz @
http://www.beliefnet.com/faiths/quiz/fruit-of-the-spirit.aspx?ec=1
Click on over and check in with yourself. It’s a simple 10 question test.

I hope you took it!

I loved some of the questions!
“What time of day is your favorite?”
“Where is your favorite place to pray?”

But I felt like they missed an important question that matters in the life of a believer.

“Are you poor and needy?”

Poor and needy?
Isn’t this Christian life abundant and joyful? Aren’t we called to serve and work?

This one question brings me back to the root of any fruit that is developing in my summer soul.
Because Jesus calls us to be poor in spirit. He expects us to need Him in all circumstances.
We were never meant to do our summer life alone.

Psalm 40 is our next chapter featured in our series and I think it’s the perfect mid-way point for summer.
Here we find David, pointing all things back to God. Telling the story of how God drew him from the pit of destruction and set his feet upon the rock. He tells of a new song in his mouth.

David is not the best at hiding his emotions, which really helps this girl on the other side of the Old Testament.
He is the writer who reminds me that he’s been there too. He has felt afraid, anxious, and depressed.

David is poor and needy and he tells us this in Psalm 40 because we need to be needy too.

We need to remember to call on Jesus when life is good and when life is hard.
We have to remember Him when the Cheerios get thrown all over the floor, or when we are running late, or while we are waiting in 5:00 traffic.
Here’s what I want you to remember tonight…

You need Him.

God’s not gonna write out your grocery list. But, He can remind you to be thankful when the last thing you want to do is go to the grocery store.

God’s not gonna discipline your child. But He can remind you of your own sin and depravity the next time your kid does something to drive you crazy.

God’s not gonna budget your money and do your taxes. But He can help develop a more disciplined lifestyle and give you wisdom to make wise financial decisions.

God wants you to need Him. He already knows your need, but He’s looking for a heart to listen.
So stop and tell Him and then watch Him work His good over your life.

Will you pray this prayer with me tonight?

Father, I wait patiently for you. Hear my cry tonight. Set my feet upon a rock and make my steps secure. Put a new song in my mouth. I delight to do Your will and will faithfully share of Your goodness. I am poor and needy. 

Amen



Monday, July 2, 2018

Psalm 34: Teaching Them To Taste {God is Good}

By Andrea Noles


I’m always looking for a lesson. Maybe it’s the teacher in me, but I always hear this whisper inside asking, “What can you learn here, Andrea?”

Maybe it’s more than the mere fact that I am a teacher by trade. Maybe it has something to do with “The Teacher” in me, as in the Holy Spirit. One thing I’ve learned for sure is when you are raising kids, you are constantly teaching and learning.

Right now I am teaching my one year old what to eat and what not to eat.
Most days I say things like, “Yummy cucumber, chew it up and put it in your belly.”
Or, “No buddy, you can’t eat that marker.”
Needless to say it’s normal and necessary for a one year old to put everything in his mouth.
He wants to experience it all.
But I can’t let him eat markers and dirt, and plastic. I have to teach him what to taste.

To taste is to experience the sensation of flavor. 
A man named David knew a little bit about “tasting” in a spiritual sense.
His writings throughout the book of Psalms are windows into his heart and mind. They are merely Gospel glimpses of what life with Jesus is like. Even though he never met Jesus. His heart was stirred up by the Holiness of God and he wrote all about it in Psalm 34.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”
David is saying, “When you bless the Lord and carry words of worship in your mouth, you’ll taste the Christian life.”

“My soul makes its boast in the Lord, let the humble hear and be glad.”
Here he is shouting, “The only credit I can give is to my Father and when I do that, others will see and taste His goodness.”

“Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.”
This is David’s invitation. “Let’s make God the most important part of our lives. Let’s make his name known.”

The next few verses go on to tell us about David’s deliverance from his fears and the radiance of those who seek God’s face.

In verse 8 he commands us to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

Isn’t it so hard, y’all?
The day in and day out grind of life can get the best of us, and tasting the goodness of the Lord is sometimes the last thing we think about.
Hustle, hurry, move, get it done. This way of living is so easy to slip into.

The Holy Spirit in me moves me to the slow life.
To slowly prepare my lunch. To look a little longer into the eyes of a stranger. To sweep my floor for the 19th time, with a thankful heart.

Some days I think I just chew up all the goodness and quickly swallow. I forget to taste how good this life really is. I forget about Jesus.

Friends, what we really need most is to REMEMBER.
We are forgetful people. We forget why we are here. We forget the Gospel, and because of this, we miss out on moments the Holy Spirit wants to engage with us. He wants to be our teacher. And like all master teachers, he will teach us to taste.

One of my favorite parts of my job as a literacy teacher is showing my kids how to taste stories. To go beyond the lines on the page and ask questions that engage their mind. I want them to walk in the shoes of the characters and feel what they feel.

Maybe if I can teach them to love books, then one day they will fall in love with the Creator of the Greatest Story? Maybe they will accept David’s invitation to taste and see that the Lord is good? Maybe my readers will be future gospel teachers and disciples of all nations? Some days I think about these things as we are segmenting sounds in words and using our best voices to read with expression.

Let’s start remembering…
To taste and to see the Greatest Story we know.

We can start this simple practice by seeing needs around us.

The woman who needs a hand at the grocery store.
The man who just lost his wife and sits alone most days.
The mom who just wants to talk because she’s been home with her kids all day.
The little boy who just wants to eat dirt.
The difficult person in your life who may need you more than you know.

Let’s put down the dirt, the markers, and the plastic food and really taste this Christian life.
Rise up early, read the Word, journal your thoughts, and all the people you say you’ll pray for, really pray. They need more than the praying hands emoji.

You will surely be radiant, dear friend. Now go make the Gospel beautiful.


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Psalm 27: Whom Shall I Fear? {God is Our Stronghold}

by Heidi Ashe

A few summers back my husband’s job called him to be out of town all summer.  His traveling would mean I would be home with a 7 year old, a 4 year old and a 1 year old.  Alone.  All summer.  That’s when I first began to feel it.  The fear.  It was a smothering sort of feeling.  I literally began to feel like I couldn’t breathe.  So, after some conversation, we borrowed a small trailer and drove to Texas.  All five of us.



Our first full week in Texas, I began to feel it again.  Here I was in a brand new state, a small town that I knew nothing about and yes, I was with my husband, but he was working 12-14 hour days, six days a week.  I could feel the weight pressing down on my chest.  It was paralyzing.  I was afraid to even take them out the door of the apartment.  I called a friend back home a little panicked.  “How do I do this?” I pleaded.  She talked me down off the ledge that looked like packing up three kids and driving a bazillion hours back home.  I began to lean on 2 Timothy 1:7, For the Lord has not given me a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and of sound mind. I grabbed my smart phone and started googling.  We started at the local library (which is a funny story all on it’s own!) and went from there.  I drug my darling children all over the Fort Worth area in a matter of three short weeks and we had a blast!



We traveled home only to sell our house, move to a rental and then take off again for Baltimore.  With 2 Timothy in my back pocket, Maryland was a better experience.  I was more confident than I had been in Texas. I could do this. Don’t get me wrong, I was still a nervous wreck and oh so naive (I’m pretty sure our first day was spent in the absolute roughest part of the city!) But I wasn’t going to let fear keep me in a hotel room.



A little over a month after we came home, one of our dearest friends had a heart attack and passed in the night.  Chris came home for the funeral but was right back to Maryland the following week.  The fear came back.  The heaviness began to drag me down.  Here I was in a rental house full of boxes, teaching full time, raising three children, and just trying to keep my head above water.



It was becoming too much.  The fear was creeping in on all sides. I began to live constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop.  What was going to happen next?  I was always on alert, hoping to be prepared for whatever the world threw at us next.  I’m not sure where I first heard this Psalm 27, but as I began to study it more, I found it to be exactly what my heart needed:



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?

When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall.  

Though an army besiege me, my heart will not fear; though war break out against me, even then will I be confident. 

One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple. 

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock. …

I am confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.



Now when the fear comes, because let’s be honest, we live in a fallen world, until we get to Glory, bad things are going to happen and the fear will keep coming. But when it comes, when I feel the tightness in my chest, I remind myself that the Lord is my light, my salvation, my stronghold.  Whom shall I fear? I ask Him to show me His beauty.  And there it is, just where it’s always been.  Right there in front of me. In the laughter of my family, in time spent with close friends, and in the breathtaking world around me. I can choose to live in the fear.  I can choose to let it paralyze me into waiting for the next bad thing.  Or I can remind myself that I am His and I have nothing to fear.  I will be strong, I will take heart and I will wait for the Lord.



Sunday, June 17, 2018

Psalm 23: Our Good Shepherd {God is Near}

by Jennifer Smith

When Morgan was three he tore a page out of my bible. Going on two years later this page sticks out awkwardly and is the default place my bible falls open. Honestly I kind of love it, being reminded almost every day of the baby hands that turned the pages of my bible. I also love the particular page he tore out:



And speak of the page ripper outer. There he is playing at my feet today.

The page my boy tore out is John 10. It says this:

11 “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.
John 10


Jesus is speaking here and He’s saying something fairly incredible to the people listening to Him. He’s stating that He’s the Shepherd David was speaking about all those years ago in the Psalm we’re focusing on today. Jesus is saying “I’m here! It’s me! All those things David told you about - you’ll find all those things in me.”

So let’s look today at the 23rd Psalm. Arguably the most famous Psalm, I pray today that new life will be breathed into it. That this Psalm will be rejuvenated inside of us.

The LORD, the Psalmist’s Shepherd.
A Psalm of David.
The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 

We’re going to take a look at David’s words line by line, but first let’s look at David himself. David was a great king of Israel, a flawed man who loved God deeply, but also knew how much God loved him. The Savior of all of mankind was promised to come through the lineage of David. But before all of this grandeur David was simply a shepherd boy who loved music. David was strong and good and handsome. He was devoted to his job as shepherd and had killed many wild animals to keep his sheep safe. So when he was given the words to what we know as Psalm 23 this topic of shepherding was close to his heart. He knew the cost and devotion of caring for sheep.

When Jesus makes the claim that He is this Shepherd described in Psalm 23 he surpassed David, a huge claim to make in front of devout Jews of the time. Jesus tells them while David simply risked his life for his sheep Jesus would give His life for His sheep.

Let’s lean in now and listen to these words from our Savior, Jesus. Let these words fall on new ears and fresh heart.

The LORD is my Shepherd, I shall not want
Jesus Himself is my caregiver. He guards me and meets all of my needs.

He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters 
He gives me life! Full, lush, green, abundant life! Here there is joy, and there is also deep peace.

He restores my soul 
We were headed for death and destruction, but Jesus, through His death and resurrection, returns our life to us.

He guides me in the path of righteousness for His name’s sake 
Those who follow Jesus have been washed in righteousness. We are heirs to heaven because He gifted us very own perfection - His righteousness.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me  
The valleys in the desert of Judah are filled with deep shadows, places perfect for bandits to hide or wild animals to sit in wait. In these valleys flash floods occur in the dry stream beds. But even in such places filled with danger and fear and unknown circumstances Jesus is with us and we have no reason to be afraid. He sees it all.

Your rod and your staff, they comfort me 
A rod and staff were meant to bring sheep back into the fold. This discipline may seem uncomfortable, but it’s for our good. Jesus will gladly sacrifice our comfort for our spiritual safety.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 
When you belong to Him, you are cared for. Even when we’re attacked, Jesus is near. He not only will provide in your time of trouble, but He will give you a feast. A time of celebration in the middle of an attack where the faithful are given blessing and abundance. Jesus is showing your enemies to be powerless.

Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life
David knows that God is faithful. Since He has shown goodness and lovingkindess in the past, David believes these things will follow the faithful throughout their lives.

and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever. 
For a non-priest to hear this, that the average person could have direct access to God, is wonderful news. When we have Jesus we have full access to God and we daily dwell with His presence inside us.

So when I put it all together, the 23rd Psalm could read something like this:

Jesus is your Caregiver.
In Him you have everything you need.
You have life!
You have peace.
You are covered in His righteousness.
This righteousness has saved your soul.

Even when things seems scary, there’s no need to be afraid.
Jesus is near.
When we need correction, it can be uncomfortable, but Jesus is doing it for our good.
The enemy has no power over us because Jesus is the ultimate power.
He has been faithful before and He will be faithful always.
Because of the goodness of Jesus we get to dwell with the presence of God everyday and always.


These promises are yours for the taking, beloved. Never doubt that you are the one sheep for whom Jesus left the ninety-nine. He is entirely devoted to you and your well-being. All needs are met in this Good Shepherd, the Heir of David’s throne.

But let's be mindful these promises are contingent on us being the sheep. Sheep that trust the Shepherd. Sheep that are willing to be guided. Sheep that are faithful to the Shepherd. We cannot be given the fullness of God's promises if we continually take ourselves away from His sovereignty and protection.

This Psalm says it all - where we go to for salvation, care, and love. This Psalm is too good to not hide in our hearts. Let’s make a pact today to memorize it and recite it to ourselves when things are sad or scary or uncertain. Or even better, let's recite it in honor and praise to a very Good Shepherd. Let it be the default page to which our hearts open when we need to remember we are loved beyond measure.


Sunday, June 10, 2018

Psalm 19: Gossip, Snark, and Judgement {Finding Words that Please God}

by Heidi Ashe

Psalm 19:14
May the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

It’s at the heart of most kitchen table conversations.  Not dining room table conversations.  Kitchen table conversations. The ones you have with your spouse late at night while you talk back over the story your baby girl told about that kid in her class. “Her parents are too loose with her!” The ones you have with your best friend when she stops by to have a cup of coffee while the kids play.  “Have you heard about so and so?” It’s in the break room at work where you gasp to your coworker about the new guy.  It’s at the lunch table where you roll your eyes at the latest story going around.

And unfortunately, if it’s in all those places, it’s in our hearts too. Gossip, hurtful words, snarky comments, judgements.

Years ago, at my first youth camp as a grown up, I got to know a twelve year old girl from our church who vowed that summer to not gossip.  I remember standing openmouthed in front of her as she explained to me that she just didn’t want to hurt anyone and that’s all gossip seemed to do. I knew then that God had big plans for that girl. She leaves on her first overseas mission trip this month.

When I was her age, gossip  and snark were the ticket to the cool kids.  If you were one of the whisperers, you were in.  Most of the time I was not one of the whisperers, but if ever given the opportunity to be, I jumped at the chance.  I honed my sarcasm and wit so that I would be ready with a quick quip if the occasion ever arose. And when it did, I was ready. I might not have any dirt on anyone, but I became pretty good at hurling hurtful comments. I could throw out a zinger that would have surely made my granny blush.  Of course I followed it with a good natured laugh and a quick, “you know I’m kidding, right?” But later the guilt would sit unsettled in my stomach.  Long before I’d ever heard this scripture, I knew the words of my mouth were not pleasing in the sight of the Lord. That’s called conviction, folks.

In my early days of teaching I was blessed to be given a mentor who has become one of my dearest friends.  We settled on this very Psalm to memorize together and it has since become a life verse for both of us as we spend our days with children of all ages, some our own, many other people's.

One Sunday afternoon in the fall of 2014, when our house had just been framed, my husband and I grabbed our Bibles, our three young kiddos, and a handful of markers and began writing God’s promises on the bare bones of our home.  I scribbled this verse on the subfloor of my kitchen just in front of where my sink would soon sit.  I knew a lot of my time would be spent there and I wanted to be standing on this prayer of David.  I knew I would need the reminder.

While it’s definitely not something I’ve mastered, I’m thankful for God’s grace in the process. Hiding this psalm in my heart, has and continues to change me.  I whisper it to myself when I feel myself starting to lose it with my children.  I say it aloud in my car when I’m on the way to meet a friend.  I pray it daily as I long for it to be true.  And it’s on repeat as I type out the very words you read.

May the words of my mouth and the
meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.


Sunday, June 3, 2018

Psalm 13: How Long? {When God Feels Far Away}

by Kayla Cook

This message is Week One of our Summer of Psalms study. No materials are needed for your participation other than your device, your Bible, and a prayer before reading.



******

How long?



Have you ever asked that?  Of course you have.  I'd be willing to bet that you started asking "how long?" as a child.  Kids ask this all the time:  when they really want to go somewhere or do something or have something, when their mama won't stop talking at church and they're ready to go.  "Just a minute," we say.  "How long is that?" they ask.



Our kids grow into preteens and then teens and young adults, and they're still asking, "How long?"

How long until I get my driver's license?  How long until he notices me?

How long do I have to stay in this town?  (Sorry, Mom & Dad- I did come back, though!)



And then we become adults, and we're still asking.  How long will I wait to get a job?  What about a job that I actually want?  Get married?  Have kids?



I even ask it in the small, everyday mundane, "How long is this going to take?"...in line at the grocery store, getting an oil change, when my husband has something he needs to do and I need help with the baby.



I've also asked "How long?" in the hardest, darkest seasons of my life.

How long will this precious one suffer this illness?

How long until my loved one comes back to You, God?

How long until we find our new normal?

How long will it be until I see some light again?

How long are You going to let me walk through this?

How long?



"How long?" is the question our psalmist, David, asks God in Psalm 13.  David, a man after God's own heart, asks Him.  David actually asks God, "How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?" (Psalm 13:1, ESV)



Have you ever felt forgotten by God?  Or like He's far away?  David did.  I have.



What do you do then?  David was a man after God's own heart, and if I want to be a woman after His own heart (how I pray that is said of me!), then I should take a page out of David's book- that page is Psalm 13 (side note:  it's not just a page out of David's book, it's a psalm out of God's book).



So let's look at this section by section, verse by verse:

Verses 1 and 2:  David is really hurting, and he asks God the questions.  He asks five questions in the first two verses:  four of them start with "how long" and the other starts with "will you...".  If you've asked God questions that start with "how long" and "will you", you're in good company, friend.



Verses 3 and 4:  David implores God again for an answer, and basically tells God how he (David) sees this all going down if God doesn't come through, and it isn't good.



Verses 5 and 6 are two of my favorite verses in all of scripture.

Read them here:

"But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me." (ESV)



Did you catch it?  Y'all, I have loved these verses for years, and I can't tell you how many times I've read them in the past three years especially, and I never caught it until I was reading Matthew Henry's commentary on it.  Then I had to re-read again to fact check Matthew Henry (ha!), and sure enough.  Don't miss what I missed.



Here's what I missed and what I pray you don't:  David is looking at God's track record, looking forward in expectation, and then back at His track record again.  When I was learning to drive, and pulling out of our neighborhood, my dad taught me to "look left, look right, then left again".  That's essentially what David is doing with God here:  look back, look ahead, look back again.



He looks back in verse 5:  "But I have trusted in your steadfast love..."  David has trusted God, and God's love has never failed him.  We can put our faith in Jesus, knowing He is faithful.



David looks ahead (still in verse 5):  "...my heart shall rejoice in your salvation."  David knows the rescue is coming, whether in this life or the next.  We can be confident of that, too.  When we place our faith in Jesus, we have been rescued and brought into the kingdom (Colossians 1:13-14).  David continues to look ahead, "I will sing to the Lord..." and then...



David's reason for singing has him looking back again, "...because he has dealt bountifully with me."  "Has dealt" is past tense, friends- it's what God had already done.  The NIV translates that piece as, "because he has been good to me."  This isn't as expressly written, but I think David has to reflect again on what has already been done because we humans are forgetful creatures. 



And this is so important:  David is looking back at what God has already done, not what he (David) has done.  The only thing David mentions he has done is trusted in God (verse 5); the rest is God's work.  The best predictor for future behavior is relevant past behavior.  I believe all of creation points us back to God, and that includes this bit of psychology as well- the best predictor of what God is going to do is what God has already done.  His character does not depend on your behavior or your circumstances.



So when you're asking Him, "how long?", look back at what He's already done, look ahead in expectation of His answer, look back again at His completed work.  He who promised really is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).  Those aren't just pretty platitudes- they're gospel truth.  Look back, look ahead, look back again, as long as you're looking at Him.