“Not We Ourselves”

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February 7, 2013 by lellielieb

Being down in the back is a humbling experience.  It is embarrassing to hobble by baby-steps down the hall.  It is unpleasant to have to pull and push myself into a standing position and then pause a moment while a wave of pain passes over me and I can begin to walk again, all the while giving my students instructions or answering their questions.  It feels weak.  It feels old.  It feels out of control.  I don’t like it.  I don’t like the fact that I need help in the morning to get my socks on.  I hate the fact that I am behind in my grading because after being at school all day, my back cannot handle sitting up to grade papers.  I have had to spend my evenings flat on my back.

This morning I read Psalm 36.  These are the last few verses:

10. O continue forth thy loving-kindness unto them that know thee : and thy righteousness unto them that are true of heart.
11. O let not the foot of pride come against me : and let not the hand of the ungodly cast me down.
12. There are they fallen, all that work wickedness : they are cast down, and shall not be able to stand.

In the past I would have read this as a prayer for protection against the proud and the wicked, and so it is, but it is not proud and wicked OTHERS that tend to do me the greatest harm.  It is the proud and wicked SELF that really gets me down.  As I have been unable to stand this week, I have learned more about leaning on Jesus.  When you have to pray for strength to do the simplest task, you begin to realize how much you take for granted.  I give myself way too much credit.  It is only God’s mercy that gets me through each day.  He is great.  I am nothing without him.

As I read through morning prayer this morning, one tiny line of Psalm 100 jumped out at me.  I have known these words by heart since I was a child, but after the experience of this week, and in conjunction with Psalm 36, I saw these words in a new light:  “Know ye, that the Lord, he is God.  It is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves.”  God is the one who made me.  I didn’t make me.  Our society tells us over and over that we can be anything we want to be, that we are the makers of our destiny.  It is a lie.  God is the one who has made us.  I am his.  I am humbled by the fact that he allows me to serve him.

Earlier verses of Psalm 36 are more positive:

5. Thy mercy, O Lord, reacheth unto the heavens : and thy faithfulness unto the clouds.
6. Thy righteousness standeth like the strong mountains : thy judgements are like the great deep.
7. Thou, Lord, shalt save both man and beast; How excellent is thy mercy, O God : and the children of men shall put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
8. They shall be satisfied with the plenteousness of thy house : and thou shalt give them drink of thy pleasures, as out of the river.
9. For with thee is the well of life : and in thy light shall we see light.

God has allowed me to walk through a bit of a valley this week, but he has filled the valley with his light and allowed me to drink from his river full of pleasures.  He is merciful.  I trust him, I find in him the strength, the motivation, and the will to go on.  He is faithful.

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