I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. Psalm 34:1
A friend was recently telling me she didn’t like using the walking track at her YMCA, because it was built on an angle, which was hard for her ankles as they tried compensating for the shift of weight. When she was told me this I thought with a gasp, “I know how that feels! I hate walking off-kilter!”
No, I had never been to her YMCA, but I am walking this journey, as we all are, called Life and the last four weeks were spent very much off-kilter. You know the feeling of not doing life well? I do.
I know what got me in that situation, too.
The month of September was a good one. I helped people, I grew in my ministries, I visited with a good friend who was visiting out of state and was able to encourage her. I was on top of the world during those weeks! But one Saturday night, sure that I could do anything the LORD put in front of me, I went to church and we sang “Oceans”. I sang it loudly and prayed sincerely. I knew life was not made solely of mountain peaks. The valleys and plains seem to be more prominent and the peaks are sometimes far and few between. I asked God to strengthen me and prepare me for the valleys ahead. And bring them, God, so that I can rest on You instead of my feeling of joy and competence and so forth.
That was one night. The next week I fell from the mountain. And I began to feel the weakening of my ankles.
I cried out to God. I asked Him for clarity. I begged for deliverance. I read the Word. I joined an in-depth Bible study. But nothing changed this feeling that I had of great isolation, that something was “off”, and the exhaustion of dog paddling through a life filled with waves that were way over my head.
Nothing in my life had changed, except the inward workings of my mind. And they were consuming and rotting.
Looking back I see clearly that God was allowing me to be stretched.
But I remembered that darn song I sang and was glad the LORD had answered my prayer to teach me while I remained uncomfortable and struggled for light the entire month.
Psalm 34 kept coming to my mind. “Taste and See That the LORD is Good”. I know You’re Good, God. I can see it, but I can’t say I taste it. “I will bless the LORD at all times.” And I did praise Him. My darkest thoughts pushed me to cry out to Him and my yearnings were like that of joy and sorrow deeply mingled. How I wanted to be immediately released from my inward darkness, but how I rejoiced that Jesus loved me deeply and was indeed near at all times. “…Blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him!” Oh, Jesus, show me what it looks like to take refuge in You, because I feel that I am and I still feel in the depths!
He took me to the deepest water where feet did fail and fear surrounded me. But He taught me more about myself and how I relate to others and what indeed was needed. He pruned. He burned away. He challenged. And I was found stronger on the other side, because (and only because) I am His and He is mine.
I am thankful for those times of life that are just plain ole uncomfortable, because they are great lessons to live through.
Bless at all times. Praise continually in mouth.