Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. Psalms 73:25–26
I love these words of the Psalmist, they are one of my go to scriptures for reassurance, redirection and courage. If you read the entire Psalm (and I encourage you to – here is a link) you will see that Psalmist does not start where he ends up. He starts with his eyes on others, ungrounded and untethered and just as angry and bitter as everybody else in the world, not light or salt, but just more noise, unfulfilled, ungrounded. But then he comes into the presence of God and he sees things clearly, he is set right, re-oriented, like a person coming out of an intense dream “wait, that’s not who I am.” You were created to be grounded in the reality of God.
Unfortunately I run into more Christians who are living the first experience of the Psalmist and not the healed, restored, freedom one. Anger, stress, worry, impatience — all flowing from a lack of grounding in the one whose name we carry, and so whose name we carry in vain with all that we do. The solution is grounding, centered living, coming into “the sanctuary of the Lord,” not as a check off, “I already did it his morning,” but as a glad necessity so that we do not wind up in the reality of the Psalmist “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” God wants our lives to be extraordinary — regardless of circumstances — and that extraordinariness comes from him and our decision to intentionally step into centered living and grounding. Have you ever met a mean Christian? I don’t think God ever intended those words to go together because they don’t — one of them has got to go. There are dozens of proven spiritual disciplines to help gain freedom and grounding, most of us need a mix. Our focus this year is through entering into God’s story in scripture — the spiritual discipline of reading the Bible, alone and together — coming into the sanctuary of the Lord in his word. I so hope you are participating with us.
Last Sunday we saw the train wreck of disfunction and grace that marked the lives of Rachel and Isaac, Jacob and Esau. It seems like they are the prototype of the dysfunctional family, incorporating deception, lies and inattention into their family function toolbox. Their disfunction flows from their parents and flows through them to their children with disastrous results. Despite all of that we get to the person of Joseph, who was not perfect, but was in process. Joseph who was able to forgive his brothers for abuse, attempted murder and slavery (I am thankful that there is nobody I need to forgive for anything that serious). He was able to forgive them because he regularly – probably moment by moment – came into “the sanctuary of God” so that he could continually hear his true name, not “unloved,” or “discarded,” but “beloved,” “approved,” “perfect,” in the sight of God.
Josephs healing came in his grounding in the person who made the universe the person whose grace allowed him to move from bitterness to eyes that could see the good, God’s good, that resulted despite the despicable evil done to him. That is freedom indeed.
Where do you find yourself in that story?
Where do you find yourself in the words of the Psalmist?
Where do you find yourself in the story of Joseph?
Take the time to find yourself there and to take that reality into the presence of God where healing awaits.
Peace, hope and love Doug