Pleas for Deliverance
Let us pray…Gracious and loving God, as we gather this day, we are reminded that your love knows no limits and no bounds. Help us in this time to remember and reflect on this idea so that we can find comfort and peace in a time that is out of our control, and remind us that your time is perfect. Now, help us to open our ears, our hearts, and our spirits to you divine, still speaking voice, Amen.
A Word from Our Sponsors...
A Word from Our Sponsors...
Many of you might be familiar with the name, Rev. Dr. Robert Schuller. Rev. Schuller was a televangelist and the pastor at the Crystal Cathedral. What I am going to share with you is a story from his life…Dr. Schuller was once on a whirlwind book promotion tour, visiting eight cities in four days. It was exhausting work in addition to his normal duties as pastor of a large church.
As Dr. Schuller reviewed his schedule with his secretary one day, she reminded him that he was scheduled to have lunch with the winner of a charity raffle. As he reviewed the information, he was suddenly sobered when he found out the winner of the raffle, who bid $500 to have lunch with him, represented that winner’s entire life savings. He knew this because the winner was his own teenage daughter who desired lunch with with her father so much that she was willing to spend her entire savings just to have some time with him.
I give you this story because, despite all that has happened in the last year, I think this is still the state of our society today. It is very likely that this story happened about 50 years ago…and it is still applicable to today.
Now, you might be thinking, “what on Earth does this have to do with our Psalm for today?”. Right? Well, I am so glad you asked! Our lives of today are so hectic, moving from one task to another to another to another, that I think we often forget what is really important in our lives. For me, that is my faith, my family, and my friends, usually in that order. So when I hear stories like this, it breaks my heart that we often put the really important things in life to the side to do what the world desires for us to do rather than what God desires for us. This story also reminds me that despite who we are, we all lose sight of what is truly important. And in our Psalm for today, we are reminded of that we lose sight of the important things and need to return our hearts to focusing on God first…so, let’s take a look at our Psalm and tease some of this out for us today.
About Psalm 69
About Psalm 69
A few moments ago, I read portions of Psalm 69. Now, this particular Psalm has been attributed to David. Again, we do not know specifically when he wrote these words and as a result, what was truly happening in his life but what we can glean from his words is that he is in turmoil. To understand this better, I want to give you a portion that we did not read this morning...
Deliver me, O God, for the water has reached my neck. I sink into the deep mire where there is no solid ground; I am in deep water, and the current overpowers me.
Here’s what I am hearing David say…God, I am in trouble, I am sinking into the mire of my life, and I need your help. How many of us have ever felt like this? I know I have and I know I have said words like this too. What we have in these first few verses sounds almost like a prayer to God for deliverance from the world and its tribulations and I can see myself in these words.
David has found himself in some sort of predicament and he recognizes that God is the only one who can help him out of his pit of despair…here’s what he says next...
I am exhausted from shouting for help; my throat is sore; my eyes grow tired of looking for my God. Those who hate me without cause are more numerous than the hairs of my head. Those who want to destroy me, my enemies for no reason, outnumber me. They make me repay what I did not steal!
Whatever might be happening in David’s life, our ours for that matter, his life is overwhelming him right now. He is looking for God to take him out of the bowl of pits and deliver him into the bowl of cherries. David is crying out to God so much that his throat is dry and he can no longer cry because his tears have dried up. His enemies have taken over his thoughts, his actions, his heart, and his spirit.
Now, I want to step back here for a moment and go back to what I said on Ash Wednesday for a moment. What if David’s enemy truly is not physical enemies but rather his own thoughts and feelings? This really puts a different spin on these words for us today. I think our own worst enemy is ourselves. What I mean is that often, what we think hurts us more than what is really the truth.
If you are anything like me, our thoughts can break us down. Our thoughts can convince us that we are unworthy of love, affection, or even being in the midst of others. Our life experiences inform what we think and how we think. Our families and friends can help us to overcome these thoughts, but the thoughts that we keep deep down in our hearts are what really keep us from moving forward and living up to what I think God has intended for us. It is these enemies that I am hearing David speak about, even in these words for today...
For I suffer humiliation for your sake and am thoroughly disgraced. My own brothers treat me like a stranger; they act as if I were a foreigner. Certainly zeal for your house consumes me; I endure the insults of those who insult you.
David is truly taking time in this prayer to reflect on who he is and what he does in God’s name. We need to remember that as a man and King of Israel, David did some pretty horrific things but he also did a lot to carry Israel into the future and bring people to God. He took on enemies, physical enemies, to protect the people of God. He led the armies of Israel into battle to keep the lands that God had promised to Abraham under Israel’s control. But yet, he just could not seem to find the positives in all these things. He focused on the things that were out of his control and most importantly, many of these words, at least to me, sound if he is struggling with his own thoughts and perceptions more than God’s words and perceptions of what David was called to do.
Again, we are no different in today’s world. We do something and if we perceive it to be wrong, we get all bound up and cannot seem to forget what we have done. Here’s the thing though...
No Fishing Allowed...
No Fishing Allowed...
When God takes on the things we do called sins, God truly takes them. God does not hold onto them and roll them around for a while, like marbles. God takes those things, drops them into the sea, and walks away. Period. End of story. God does not sit back and in a period of time think that the sin needs to be fished out of the water to be reviewed again. God does not own a fishing pole or a net…once God drops the sins into the sea, it is long forgotten.
As humans, it is hard for us to forget. We remember things from time to time and they disturb us. Like in this prayer, we often like to bring up those bad things to remind us that we are not or could not be worthy. Yet, God continually reaches out to us to remind us how good and loved and worthy we truly are.
GOD LOVES YOU
GOD LOVES YOU
God loves us with a love that knows no boundaries, knows no limits, and has no memory of what we have done wrong. Does this mean we should go out and do whatever we want because God will forgive us. Absolutely not, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is what David wrote here...
The poor will see and be glad— you who seek God, may your hearts live! The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people.
David knew deep in his heart that God forgave him and would allow him to continue to serve God. We too can take these words and remember the words of Corie Ten Boom…when we truly come before the throne of grace, pray from our deepest pain and hurt, God hears us. God will deliver us from the pain, as long as we remember that the no fishing sign has been put out. God’s love is that big. God’s love is that unconditional.
In this season of Lent, when we are called into a time of reflection on our true enemies, it is important for us to remember that God does forgive all, but we must be willing to let go, just as God does…Amen.