Monday, February 22, 2010

Psalm 18: Of Deliverance and Resistance

Our Lord is like a good-hearted nurse whose only job is to see the safety of her charge.
Julian of Norwich

Christ is the shepherd and guardian of our souls. (I Peter 25). The fact that we are here is evidence of God's shielding from enemies that seek to do us harm. (Psalm 18:17, 48) If you are survivor of trauma or domestic violence, your physical, mental, and emotional health is grace sufficient for gratitude and thanksgiving.

God is the advocate not the adversary. God promises to be our light so that we can see the path ahead- enough to take the next step. God is pure in love with no hidden agenda, even as we seek God with the one purpose of following, not controlling God. (Psalm 18:25 ff.)

God is the shield not the attacker. (Psalm 18:30). God makes our way safe (18:32). The present is where we face the true enemies of our lives and where we encounter our own self-sabotaging practices that daily threaten to throw us off the path entirely as well as the life we know in God.

But whenever we embark on a path, or seek to continue a journey, the adversary's words are all about diminishing the hope and joy that is set before us. Guilt and shaming play their part and, if we're not careful, they will carry the dreadful melody our spirit ends up singing.

Just because we discover that continual maintenance of the false self is not the way that leads to life doesn't mean we are free from being enticed and choosing the path of least resistance. Choosing to grow into God's image rather than cobbling a false self is difficult if not treacherous going, precisely because it's painful, even terrifying, to face your inner hindrances, sirens, and filthy messes. And to own them as yours is not fun or easy or comforting or convenient.

I choose to look at the warrior parts of Psalm 18 (much of verses 31-45) more as descriptive of a spiritual and inner combat that is daily and persistent. The fight is for our best self in God's love. We are the battlefield and the fight is over us! It's the work of God's image being recovered and renewed and restored in me, a journey that is life-long. The gift of resistance to the false self is the shield God gives us to stay on the journey, to keep moving forward.

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