Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Through the Gate to the Broad Place

The notes for Psalm 20 in the Wesley Study Bible say that this is an intercession for the king.  It says that  the people are asking for God’s protection for their king, because their safety is contingent upon his safety.  I’m glad that I read the Psalm before I read the notes because, I had a very different take on this, particularly on verses 4 and 5:
“May he grant you your heart’s desire, and fulfill all your plans.  May we shout for joy over your victory, and in the name of our God set up our banners.  May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.”
What I heard in my head and heart was a blessing.  This is the type of prayer that I would pray for a loved one or a friend, particularly if they were struggling with some issue.  Not only do I want my friend to overcome obstacles but, I want to celebrate with them, when they achieve their goal!  This is the kind of prayer that I hope someone would pray over me!

There was another verse that caught my attention, as well, that I think goes nicely with this blessing.  Psalm 18, verse 19:
“He brought me out into a broad place; he delivered me, because he delighted in me.”
The notes on this verse say that a broad place is far from enemies that would otherwise be pressing in on an individual.  Again, I understand what they are saying,  but I saw something very different!  In my minds eye, I saw a wide, open, space, full of opportunity.  I saw potential!

Here’s my convoluted thought process.  It’s a winding path but stay with me! It will make sense, once we wind through the maze!   Jesus said the gate is narrow.  We have to choose to walk through the gate.  But what happens when you walk through that gate?  Things usually open up into a much wider, broader space!  Why does God give you gifts and graces?  Why does God give you ideas and plans?  Why do the right people show up, at the right time, in the right place?  Here’s the part that we tend to skim over; the reason is, because God delights in you!

If you have prayed to God to use your gifts and graces, for His honor and glory, if you have asked Him what His plan is for your life, then you have started towards that narrow gate.  What a delight!  Someone who actually stopped talking, and stopped long enough to ask what His plan is, rather than, putting forth what you think the plan should be!  Once you walk through that gate, the Holy Spirit puts His arm around your shoulder and says “look around you.”  You look and think “wow, this is way more than I imagined!”  His plan, is your plan, and he will fulfill your heart’s desire!  Your friends and family will celebrate with you because, God has delighted in you!  It is a powerful, profound image!  An incredible vision, if we could just believe in it!  Ah, there’s the catch, the thing that keeps you from walking through that gate!  It’s hard to believe, especially if we feel that we are not “delightful!”

Leslie Weatherhead, in his book, “A Private House of Prayer” said something that was stunning in it’s simplicity, and really gets to the heart of the matter.  In the meditation for day 4, he talks about the story from Mark, chapter 2, where the four men, literally, haul their sick friend up to the roof, and remove the tiles, so they can lower him down to Jesus, because they truly believe Jesus can heal him.  Jesus does not say to the man, “you are healed.”  What does he say?  “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  Rev. Weatherhead says this:
“How many disabilities of ours would disappear if we could really feel completely forgiven, utterly free from guilt?” 
 He comes back to this point, during the confession for day 15, when he says this:
“God does not ask us to live in a state of continual remorse about our past sins, but to outgrow them and become spiritually adult.”  
God forgives, but do you forgive yourself?  Why are you unable to believe that God delights in you?  Because you can’t let go of the guilt.  It is tough to believe in the forgiveness of God when you can’t forgive yourself!  The train of thought in your head is “how can I ask for blessings when I’m not worthy?”

God’s forgiveness is not dependent on us, or how worthy we think we are!  God forgives because God is God!  He is merciful, and loving; and He doesn’t worry about the past, when someone has truly repented and asked for forgiveness.  If He wanted us to wallow in guilt over past sins, then, why would He send Jesus?  Jesus came because God so loved the world!  Jesus came so that we could experience forgiveness!  When we choose to believe Jesus is Savior, and ask for forgiveness, God forgets those sins!  He focuses on the present, and the future, and what wonderful things are waiting for you, if, you would just believe and ask!  This is why Paul, in Philippians 3, talks about “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead” and he talks about pressing towards the goal of the “heavenly call” of God.  If past guilt keeps holding you prisoner, how can you move forward?  Didn’t Jesus come to set each of us free?

God has a “heavenly call” for each of us; a delightful plan that He wants to share.  But, you’re not going to enter that narrow way, if, you keep hauling all the guilt baggage around with you!    Let it go!  God has forgiven you, learn to forgive yourself!  

As you let go of all that baggage, and walk through that narrow gate, I pray with the Psalmist that  God will grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans.  I believe that he will deliver you to that broad place because God is Good.  He loves you, He forgives you and He delights in you!  May you shout with joy when your victory comes, because God loves YOU, and delights, in YOU!

1 comment:

  1. Another fabulous message and most helpful interpretation. Trudy, you have things so very right, clearly said and testified. God bless!