Dreams are wishes your heart make.
If that’s true, my heart is often wishing for a series of disjointed, sometimes really distressing events, around work, that usually include talking bears.
A good friend of my shared this raw and real prayer experience so I asked permission to share it. Other than a few edits, I am sharing it as is.
“Have you ever gotten to the point where you say to God, ‘I don’t know what the f*$k I’m doing with my life.’? That’s the prayer I prayed today. Somewhere between listing off all the horrible things that the devil was pumping into me about myself. I didn’t have any religious spin on the fact that I feel like a bag of shit, so I said quite frankly, ‘F*$k it, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing.’
The politically correct Christian in me wants to say ‘How dare you use that language in the presence of God?’ But it’s not like He doesn’t already know where my heart is, so what’s the point of cleaning up my language, if my heart is cussing to high heaven?
You ever get to that point where you’re praying, and you don’t even know what the hell to pray for because everything just seems like one big jumbled mess? You know God has been there for you before, but in your Israelite moment you feel like God has dropped you off in a scene from ‘Lost’ and you’re trying to navigate yourself off this island that is a literal death trap. Welcome to my world!
I watched this video on Facebook yesterday – it was of vegans protesting animal cruelty. God forgive me, but these idiots were branding their bodies with hot iron and rolling around practically naked in blood to show how animals ‘feel’ in the meat industry. I’m all for being sensitive, but there are people being shot to death because the color of their skin ignites fear, and you are protesting for animal rights? Seriously?
I’m not diminishing the value that God puts on His creation, and yes, we have been horrible stewards when it comes to managing the natural resources that God has given us. But honestly, when the lives of cows, chickens, turkeys and the like gets elevated above those of our fellow man, I shake my head in dismay that creeps into anger.
I can usually tell I’ve reached my saturation point when my will to do anything constructive disappears. I spent the day in bed today. I didn’t want to face the world, because honestly, nothing about it impresses me right now. I look around and ask God, ‘Where are You? Why are children being killed at the hands of evil men? Where is the God of Elijah? I need Him to show up right now.’ I laid in bed today, trying to fill the listless feeling with Soduko, Mahjong, Facebook…that didn’t work. I listened to Lux Radio Theatre (radio presentations of hits from the silver screen era), but not even Clark Gable nor funnyman Bob Hope could cheer me up. I know that when I get to this point I’m vulnerable, and only connecting with God will give me insight, but it doesn’t stop me from trying everything else.
I finally took out my prayer journal and decided that if I had any hope of facing the world today, I needed to hash some things out with God. This was the most interesting prayer I’ve ever prayed. I started by telling God all the horrible things I believe about myself… you know the usual – ‘I’m ugly, I’m stupid…I’m still single, because no one will ever find me lovable.’ I mean I took self-loathing to another level. Stuff came out of places, I didn’t even know I had places. It broke my heart to see how little I think of myself. But halfway through the prayer, the conversation took on a life of it’s own. I kid you not, I went from writing in the first person (‘I am this’) to writing in the third person (‘you are that’). It was like the devil was like, your self-loathing is not enough, so let me pile some more shit on… I did manage to get to the point in the prayer, where I was able to admit to God that I know all of what I wrote to be a lie, but that didn’t negate what I was feeling. And it was there in the middle of asking God to help me to focus on what I know rather than what I felt that I needed to stop all the repetitive crap. You know what I mean…?
Today I prayed a prayer I have never prayed before, and God replied, ‘It’s about time, now let’s get to work!'”
This is from a person I follow called “Hebrew for Christians.” It’s so powerful I just want to quote it and let it percolate.
“When King David cried out, lev tahor bera-li, Elohim: “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Psalm 51:10), he did not use the Hebrew word yatzar (יָצַר), which means to “fashion” or “form” something from preexisting material, but he instead used the word bara (בָּרָא), a verb exclusively used to refer to God’s creation of the cosmos (Gen. 1:1). David understood that no amount of reformation of his character would be enough, and instead appealed to that very power of God that created the worlds yesh me’ayin (יֵשׁ מֵאַיִן), “out of nothing.” Such was the nature of the remedy required…”
We live in a never enough culture. Every day we hear the whisper: we’re not good enough, smart enough, successful enough, beautiful enough, loveable enough… Never enough is a shadowy, slow, pressure that squeezes us; it creates unease, sometimes it drives us to do things that leave us even more desperate to be enough.
Listen to The Heart Song:
The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23, New Living Translation
In chapter 10 of the Good News recorded by John, Jesus connects the dots between the Divine Shepherd in The Heart Song and himself. He says he is the Good Shepherd and describes himself and what he does using the same themes as Psalm 23. He even says that he and the Father, are one. Interesting but what’s the big idea? Add in Colossians 1:15-22. Here is a short overview:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation…
He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together.
For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and through him God reconciled everything to himself.
This includes you who were once far away from God. You were his enemies, separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions. Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault.
The game changer, the truth that sets you free from never enough thinking and sets your whole being at ease, is this powerful message from your Good Shepherd:
You are enough to God.
If you were to do a quick survey on what is the most popular Psalm, the one that comes up near the top is Psalm 23. Why? It’s not the first or last or in the middle. It has a strange metaphor shift half way through. What’s the deal with this Psalm?
I submit to you that the reason why it’s so popular is because it’s personalized – instead of talking about God, it’s talking with God. We can personalize scripture as we sense God speaking to us but that requires some creative thought. Psalm 23 is already written for us to sing from our hearts to the God who has loved us from the very beginning.
Unfortunately, Psalm 23 has been analyzed in so many sermons and has become so familiar that I think we’ve forgotten the song; at least it has lost it’s power. And yet, the world hasn’t forgotten it’s song – it’s constantly singing it loud and clear into our hearts and we are reaping the results.
Over the next few weeks, I invite you to consider three life-changing parts of Psalm 23 that I hope will help it become Your Heart Song. For now, would you take a moment and just meditate upon the words of the song…
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
2 He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.
3 He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.
4 Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.
Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
5 You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
6 Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23, A psalm of David.
New Living Translation