"To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, I trust in You; Let me not be ashamed; Let not my enemies triumph over me. Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed; Let those be ashamed who deal treacherously without cause. Show me Your ways, O Lord; Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, For You are the God of my salvation; On You I wait all the day." (Psalm 25:1-5)
The last week or so has been difficult for Cherie and I, as we continue to work through some of the fall-out from my issues. The primary problem is that I continue to be tempted by thoughts of the other woman. Although these thoughts are not with longing but more of general interest, they cause concern because it makes both of us wonder how "over" her I am; how complete the heart change is that God has given. I am almost always successful in turning from these thoughts, and have recently been telling myself, "NO, you do not have the right to think of her at all," (some advice from "Every Man's Battle") and finding more real deliverance. But I really want to be free of them altogether, to understand and root out the source of these thoughts, and I am not sure that I am on the right track. I don't want to exaggerate the problem, but neither do I want to minimize it. And as you can imagine, it is really hard for Cherie when she knows that I still have some inclination to think of the woman that I betrayed her for; that I pursued in my imagination; that I had a crush on. To say that it is my sinful flesh that is the cause, and not my true self which is now dominated by my changed heart, does not really change the picture from her perspective. It still feels like betrayal; it still makes her question where I am at; and how much to trust me.
These conversations have been difficult and ugly, to say the least. But I "get it" from her perspective a little more now. And it has inflamed a passion within me to tackle my thoughts with renewed vigor. I decided not to go to church on Sunday (the other woman attends there as well) to starve myself of "food" for my thoughts, and to focus on seeking God together with Cherie. There was some profit in our long conversations that day, but eventually derailed into never-never land, which started our week out kinda rough.
It is easy to be discouraged in such cases, but I don't really have that liberty right now. I need to seek God and His wisdom with all of my heart, and I am really trying to make that a priority this week. Things have warmed up a little between us in the short-term, but I need to focus on the long-term, and Cherie's patience with me has worn thin. I really need a break-through, and I know that God is in that business.
It occurred to me that God expects me to obey what He has already revealed, before He will show me the next steps. And He has shown me that I need to focus a lot of my attention on pursuing Him -- in personal Bible reading, prayer, and worship.
That brings me to the above verses, which I am memorizing this week. I am looking at my verse memorization from a different angle now. It is not just to fill up my mind with good things. It is to embrace God's very words. It is to cling to God and His truth. It is to hide His words in my heart. It is to strengthen my new heart in His good ways, by His good Spirit.
I chose these particualr verses because they highlight some important things for me at this point in my Christian journey.
The psalmist here is overflowing with expressions of dependence upon God. He lifts up his soul to the Lord; he trusts in God; he knows God has power over his enemies; he waits upon the Lord and knows that He can keep him from being ashamed; he needs to be shown the Lord's ways; he wants to be taught God's paths by Him; he longs for truth and sound teaching; he acknowledges his salvation comes only from God; and he waits upon God all the day. I am reminded that I am nothing, and that I cannot do any good thing apart from the Lord and His work in my life. I need Him to show me the way and give me the grace and strength to walk in that way.
Something else I noticed here. My victory over sin; my triumph over the flesh; my conquering in spite of Satan's attack -- these are all in the hands of God, who has already accomplished my deliverance in the cross of Christ. The psalmist says early on, "Let me not be ashamed", but as he considers it further, he knows God's answer, and he clings to it even as He voices it to God: "let no one (and I add, "not even me") who waits on You be ashamed." How can I be ashamed if I am waiting on God all the day; by seeking His truth and ways with all of my heart; recalling that He is the God of my salvation? This reminds me that salvation includes not only justification, but sanctification and glorification, and so I know my current deliverance is part of His continued work of sanctification in my life, part of His perfect salvation.
The reference to those who ought to be ashamed has always made me think of Saul or even some of David and Saul's warriors who were just horrible in their dealings. But last night when I read this, I saw myself in it. I have "dealt treacherously" with Cherie in betraying and deceiving her, and that "without cause." How ashamed I am, and how worthy of God's wrath instead of His blessing. And yet, God in His mercy and grace looks down upon the likes of me, and He delights to deliver us from our treacherous ways to His own ways of truth, righteousness, and glory. What an awful sinner I am. What an amazing God has saved me! He will be faithful in continuing that work in me, as I seek Him with the changed heart that He has given me.
Oh God, I need You; I trust You; I seek You; please teach me; oh show me the way; I cling to You; I wait upon Your deliverance while I seek Your grace to follow and obey You; please cause me to triumph for Your name's sake. In Christ's powerful name I ask it. Amen.