Monday, April 9, 2012

Betrayal and Forgiveness (Part 1)

Psalm 55:22

22 Cast your cares on the LORD
and he will sustain you;
he will never let the righteous fall.

Psalm 55:22

22Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail).

For years now the Lord has usually given me a verse three times in the period of a day or even a week to confirm to this stubborn child that YES, it is a word I need to apply and get to know deep down in my bone and marrow.  Whenever I do have times of doubt I am reminded of how obvious the Lord makes Himself to reveal to me the same verse of scripture out of the thousands of scriptures...there is no coincidence and the odds of it can't even be measured it has happened so many times.  I'm not sure why He does it this way with me but He does and I love Him for it.  So, I picked a random card  out of some bible promise cards and Psalm 55:22 was the verse I picked out of 101 cards. Then, I was cleaning my downstairs going through old papers and unrolled a scrolled up piece of paper with that same verse in the middle of it and then later that night I cracked up at the Lord because the chapter I had started reading in Pastor Erwin Lutzers book "When You've Been Wronged" moving from bitterness to forgiveness started out with you guessed it...Psalm 55!

So, as I studied it I was so thankful once again for the depth of human emotion that is penned in His Holy Writ.  I have always loved the Psalms and maybe because I am so flawed and so human and can relate to the roller coaster ride that life brings.  I often have people ask me how they can pray for me and I am dead serious when I say, "Pray that I will be close to the Lord and seek to live and walk in His Presence."  I mean it because if some of my situations never change this side of heaven, I know I can face anything with the Lord's presence and like Moses cried out to God, I don't want to move from any place I am in unless His Presence is going with me. 

So here we have David lamenting in Psalm 55.  I always love the subtitles... "For the director of music. with stringed instruments.  A maskil of David."  In my Western vocabulary and mindset I just can't see this passage being sung to some stringed instruments. Unless maybe it were a country song.

Psalm 55:1-7
1 Listen to my prayer, O God,
do not ignore my plea;
2 hear me and answer me.
My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught
3 at the voice of the enemy,
at the stares of the wicked;
for they bring down suffering upon me
and revile me in their anger.
4 My heart is in anguish within me;
the terrors of death assail me.
5 Fear and trembling have beset me;
horror has overwhelmed me.
6 I said, “Oh, that I had the wings of a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest—
7 I would flee far away
and stay in the desert;

So here we have David, a man after God's own heart, a man who is fragile yet strong.  We see through the word where he is betrayed and yet he also betrays.  Yet what do we a man or woman like him choose to do when we have been betrayed?  If you have never been betrayed I would check my pulse to see if I was still on this planet or I would see if I had disconnected from people all together.  If we don't deal with the offenses that have been dealt to us we will ultimately become hard hearted, bitter, and maybe jaded.  If we don't wrestle our struggles out with the Lord in all honesty (since He already knows our hearts) we will inevitably try to build walls of protection ourselves instead of letting God be the watchmen on the wall of our hearts and we will become bitter and our relationship will be hindered with the Lord.  We will be tempted to self protect when we waver in unbelief shocked that a certain offense even came our way.  Even if we are mad at the Lord for letting something pass through our hands we need to come and confess our dissappointment.  He already knows we can't fool the Lord.  Very recently I was misunderstood by a precious woman in the faith and the Lord used this passage to speak to me.  I had been through some very personal trial and this person felt as if I were carrying hatred, bitterness, or unforgiveness when in reality I have been struggling and wrestling this offense out with the Lord.  I was misunderstood by her because she didn't know all of the details and she did not understand how this offense did not take place overnight and the process of forgiveness wasn't going to be overnight either.  I think so many people are well intended in the Body of Christ but also they may have limited vision into the trials of other people.  Yes we are to forgive yet just like people who struggle with addiction maybe some of them are literally delivered from a long term addiction over night but rarely is that the case.  They didn't become addicted over night and live in that addiction over night they may have spent years in the pit of sin until it has become a way of life and the process out of the pit is of course that the Lord deliver them yet they may have to spend years rewallpapering their minds with scripture and cooperation with the Lord because He is about relationship and intimacy with His children.  Why do we think the phrase "tough love" is spoken of so often?  Because of our propensity to wander.  If we receive instant deliverance from something like God just "bailed us out" so to speak we are very conditioned to forget.  We may have received a delieverance but we have not come to know our deliverer.  And I am sorry but what a tragedy it would be in my opinion to not have cooperated with the Lord freeing us up and thus miss out on such sweet times of healing and intensive care that the Lord worked in us. 
So, verse 1, David asks the Lord to listen to his prayer and not ignore his plea.  The word for "listen" used here is literally in Hebrew Azan, that God would "turn, lend an ear to, listen, attend to, ponder..."  There is something within the human heart that wants to be heard.  We want to have a voice.  The old phrase, "children are meant to be seen and not heard"  bugs the mess out of me and I am sure it does Jesus too since He would call the children to come to Him and not be hindered.  There are many references to His love for children and our need to humble ourselves and become like them because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. 
There is something to be said for having some friends for a long period of time.  People who really "know" you.  They get your heart and also know some of the pain you have been through.  People who in essence you have walked this road of life with.  What bugged me so much the other day about this precious person I referred to is I felt that she was projecting on me that I haven't forgiven such a fresh offense when the people close to me really get me and know that this wasn't something freshly brewed and that of course they understood where I was at in the process.  We have to be slow in rattling off how someone needs to forgive 70 times 7 (which I could teach a whole post about that verse and how taken out of context it is) when injuries that didn't take place over night may not have scarred up just yet.  I remember Beth Moore speaking one time about the difference between a festering wound and a scar.  If we are still bleeding from a wound and it hasn't scarred then there is something that needs tending too.  So, David wanted to be heard and quite honestly you may go through times where you feel so misunderstood and God is the only One who gets you and that's OK too.  He is greater than our hearts and knows everything.  Who better to make your plea to? 
David has been betrayed and the guy is in anguish over it.  So many people don't want to be their brothers keeper and they don't want to get into anything seemingly messy and so what do they do?  They ignore.  He is asking God to give ear and not ignore His plea.  He cries out to God for "divine retribution" over his enemies.  "The psalmist is full of inner turmoil.  Instead of the roaring of the sea, he hears the "voice"  (lit., "noise"; GK 7754) of his enemies threatening his existence.  They cause him to suffer grievously."
If you have ever studied the life of David you will see how many people were after him before he ever took the throne as king over Israel.  We may not be running with people in hot pursuit of us but we have that unseen enemy prowling around seeking those he can devour.  We don't need to give him too much credit but he is after us alright.  And we better wise up to his schemes.  After more than a decade of teaching or working in some facet of ministry with women I have heard many stories of betrayal.  I have also seen where the enemy is taking so many casualties from moral failure in the Body of Christ.  He knows his time is short and look at how he is turning up the heat to use anything he can to appeal to the lust of the flesh and snatch the testimony of true believers, true lovers of God.  Please hear me when I say, if David can fall into sin and still be called a man after God's own heart then you and I are a decision away from being ensnared or jumping into a pit of sin ourselves.  Listen to me, take heed you stand less you fall.  Left to yourself and your own depravity you are capable of any manner of sin.  If there is one shocking statement that I have heard it is from the lovers of God that wonder how they got to the place they are in?  How did they fall?  What happened?  So many people though are left in the wake of betrayal and pushed into a pit that they didn't make for themselves.  It may be someone stabbing you in the back, a promise not kept, a spouse that was unfaithful, a group of Christians that let you down, parents that were never parents to you, untold abuses...yet here you are and what are you going to do?  Well, you would be wise to start crying out to God.  There is a good step because we have got to deal with these offenses or rest assured they will deal with us.
I'm headed to start this continuum because I realize I already have gone to long and that's one thing I am...long winded!


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