This week’s theme is “Don’t Miss the REST?” As I read the Scripture for today, I am going to take it line by line – in the NIV and then in The Message (in italics) and try to apply it to this week's theme – and how God is going to “teach” to me through His Word how to not miss the REST for today. Psalm 34:1-8
1I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips. I bless God every chance I get; my lungs expand with His praise.
2My soul will boast in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. I live and breathe God; if things aren’t going well, hear this and be happy:
3Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together. Join me in spreading the news; together let’s get the word out.
I am supposed to extol the Lord at all times? What? Even in traffic? At work? After a misunderstanding with my spouse or child or friend? How is that going to be possible? Yeah, right. As I get cut off by someone – You want me to break out in song? Or stop and bless You, God? Sounds a bit Polyanna-ish! I deserve to get mad! They are wrong. I am right!
If I stop and think about my normal reactions to traffic jams, work issues, and misunderstandings with my loved ones, my patterns have been to blow up; or give the silent treatment; or cuss; or pout; or just be in a grouchy mood. Have those ways actually given me any satisfaction or REST? As Dr. Phil says, “How’s that workin’ for ya?” But more importantly, God is asking – “Dawn, how’s that workin’ for ya?” Uh not too well. Those reactions are not satisfying at all. Those patterns are not providing REST in any way. In fact, those reactions just make my blood pressure rise, I get more agitated, and by the time I get where I am going – the rest of the world is going to pay!!!
This Psalm is challenging me to bless God every chance I get – even when life is not going well – to let my lungs expand with His praise – even in those times – the chances of feeling REST will be so much higher than when I default with my old reactions.
4I sought the Lord, and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears. God met me more than halfway, He freed me from my anxious fears.
When I think back to times of fear and really be honest with myself, the times that I was not delivered from the fear would be the times I did not seek God with that fear. The times I TRULY sought God about a fearful situation, I can honestly say that the anxiety went away. The situation did not go away. --- The anxiety went away! It doesn’t say He will deliver me from the situation – it says that He will deliver me from the fear. That’s a tricky one. Maybe I did not “seek” Him right – or “good enough” – and therefore the part that says “God met me more than halfway” is so gracious and merciful – that He always meets me more than halfway – it’s not up to me to free myself from the anxious fear– THAT is His role! And in that assurance that He will free me from my anxiety – and that is REST!
5Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. Look at Him; give Him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from Him.
When I am not at REST, I am definitely not radiant! My face is taut. My face is not relaxed or at peace. It’s like wearing a sign that says, “back off – I’m in a bad mood – enter my space at your own risk!” But when I go to Him - when I don’t hide my feelings from Him – when I seek Him and tell Him what is going on – then I can look at Him and give Him my warmest smile? When is the last time I gave someone a “warm” smile? When is the last time I gave God a warm smile? If I think about that – I realize it’s impossible to give someone a warm smile when I am not at REST. My hard, taut, stiff, grouchy face cannot give others a warm smile now, can it? Ouch.
6This poor man called and the Lord heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles. When I was desperate, I called out, and God got me out of a tight spot.
7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and He delivers them. God’s angel sets up a circle of protection around us while we pray.
How comforting to know that when I call – the Lord Almighty hears me?!!! Insignificant, one of billions of people – He hears ME! How comforting to know that when I am praying, or when I spend the day “immersed” in prayer relationship with Him, His angel is setting up a circle of protection around me. Now that image gives me great assurance that He is with me! And when I feel protected, I can let down my anxieties and truly REST. This reminds me of being home alone as a teenager when my parents were gone. Same house. Same situation. Doors locked. Dogs got to come inside that night. I slept with my dad’s baseball bat! But I didn’t have a deep sleep that night. I heard every noise. I dozed. I kept checking the clock to see when daylight would finally arrive. When my parents returned – and when keeping me safe was once again their responsibility – boy did I sleep tight that night! I was protected! Someone else was in charge. Someone else had the baseball bat! I felt safe. I got REST! How comforting to know that the angel of the Lord is encamped around me!
8Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. Open your mouth and taste, open your eyes and see – how good God is. Blessed are you who run to Him.
Mmm. The image of tasting something delectable. The times where I have run to Him and experienced true deliverance of anxiety and fear – that “tasted” sooo good! That’s a feeling I want to experience again. So I am apt to try this “run to Him” tactic again! I want another taste!
Yelling in traffic didn’t taste good. Giving the silent treatment didn’t taste good. I didn’t see God in the midst of a rage or string of cuss words. The times I found REST were when I ran to Him – when I took refuge in Him – even in the midst of horrible circumstances! Oh, that I would remember the “taste” of those times of deliverance – remember those delicious times of REST that only comes from Him – and then “go there” again! Then when God asks, “Dawn, how’s that workin’ for ya?” I can say – “Wonderfully! Extolling You and boasting in You tastes so good, God! Thank You!”