Have you ever read Psalm 107? It is a beautiful picture of the Lord’s mercy toward his people and it portrays the very message he’s been writing in my heart the past few months. Lately, I’ve been catching glimpses of my Creator’s face and written upon it the meaning of what it is to be his child. These glimpses have initiated a sprint toward him with an aching desire to know him better and live in the light of his Word. This is a wonderful place to be because there is nothing on earth that can so completely capture a sinner’s attention and create an instant, insatiable hunger than the face of his abundantly merciful, gracious, and loving Savior. As we are still entrenched in this world and easily distracted by that which we can see and touch, it is a rare blessing when the eyes of our hearts can glimpse, in truest form, the presence of God. So I’m sprinting toward Him. But the thing about sprinting is that while the desperate yearning to reach your goal is so passionately strong, your exertion often causes you to reach the very limits of yourself. You race with the thirst of a parched man and your heart pulls you ahead by the very demand of its desire, but your legs and your lungs and even your vision begin to weaken from the energy that you are forcing them to employ. You become so very intimately aware of your weaknesses and limitations. So while I’m thankful for and basking in the desire I have to know the Lord, I’m realizing that the closer I get to him, the closer I get to the end of myself. The closer I get to him, the closer I get to understanding that it will not be I who finishes this race but him through me. I now find the struggle, not in trying so hard to do it right, but in admitting that I simply cannot accomplish that which he has asked of me on my own.
Psalm 107 is a perfect reminder that the Lord does not delight in our efforts so much as our humility. Indeed, it is not in our trying that he is pleased, but in our admission of helplessness that he finds pleasure. For what do we have to offer a King who made everything? What can we bring to our God, who alone can claim total, complete, self-sustained satisfaction? In Psalm 107, the writer lists several different types of people in different sets of circumstances: some wandered in the wilderness, lost, homeless, hungry and thirsty (vs4-5), some sat in darkness and deepest gloom, imprisoned in chains of misery (vs10-11), some were fools who rebelled and suffered for their sins (vs17-18), some went off to sea and battled the oceans (vs23-27). So you have depicted in these verses the physically impoverished, emotionally depressed, spiritually blind, and the proud. All of these people display an ignorance of or defiance toward the Lord that lands them in some sort of trouble and in a few cases God even increases their distress as a consequence. But in each case, the dire circumstances throw these people to their knees and in desperation they cry, “Lord, help!” (vs 6,13,19,28). “Lord, help!”…that’s it. “Lord, help!” No, “Why is this happening?” No, “I didn’t mean to.” No, “If you save me I’ll…” Just, “Lord, help!” And the Lord’s response? The psalmist says, “he saved them from their distress” (vs 6,13,19,28). He rescues them! He doesn’t rescue them because they put in enough effort to rescue themselves; he doesn’t rescue them because they were good people caught in a bad place; he doesn’t rescue them because they offered anything of value. They didn’t! They were foolish, proud, defiant people who chose the path that led them to the distress they found themselves in. But God rescued them because they came to him in utter humility, with a total awareness of their inability to rescue themselves. And he rescued them so that the result would be glory to his name. “Let them praise the Lord for his great love, and for the wonderful things he has done for them!” (vs 8,15,21,31).
As I get closer and closer to the Lord, I see clearer and clearer that which he has asked of me as his child. For instance, I see the roles he is asking me to fill as a wife and mother – roles that require a level of selflessness, wisdom, and gentleness that I am far, oh so far, from attaining. Where I should be welcoming opportunities to serve my husband and speak into my children’s lives, more often I’m arranging my time to get them all away from me so I can be by myself. (Terrible, huh?) I see the role I must play to fulfill the calling he’s given us: the role of supporting some pretty incredible people who are planting churches in remote locations. Here again, I find myself so worn out from the rest of life that I constantly feel like I am not doing enough. But as I draw near to him and the gap between who I am and who I want to be is widened and as I feel myself starting to become overwhelmed with despair at my failures – my heart is tugging me ahead by the strength of its desire but my lungs and legs just won’t keep up – I find his grace is there to catch me before I can fall too far. In fact, I fall just enough to land in my Father’s arms…out of breath, weakened, and helpless. And while he holds me, he whispers, “This is right where I want you. I don’t want you believing you can do this alone. I am not asking you to try harder; when you try, you push me away. I want you to come to me, on your knees, head bowed, tears streaming and ask for my help. How is my glory displayed by your efforts? Rather, let me help you and I’ll reap glory from your gratitude.”
He desires our trusting dependence, not our foolish determination. For it is a foolish person indeed who thinks he can reach the throne of Holiness without the assistance of the King.