Psalm 61- Breathing Room

Brown Bear, Katmai National Park, Alaska

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1-2 God, listen to me shout,
bend an ear to my prayer.
When I’m far from anywhere,
down to my last gasp,
I call out, “Guide me
up High Rock Mountain!”

3-5 You’ve always given me breathing room,
a place to get away from it all,
A lifetime pass to your safe-house,
an open invitation as your guest.
You’ve always taken me seriously, God,
made me welcome among those who know and love you.

6-8 Let the days of the king add up
to years and years of good rule.
Set his throne in the full light of God;
post Steady Love and Good Faith as lookouts,
And I’ll be the poet who sings your glory—
and live what I sing every day.”

-Psalm 61, The Message

 

I’ve broken up with God more times than I can count.

 

There were nights when I explicitly spelled out- in all the swear words, why I had enough. Why I no longer believed or was done trying to. He didn’t love me, I muttered, so I wouldn’t love Him back.

 

There have been months on end that I considered myself closed off from God altogether, even if I didn’t make that directly clear to him.

 

You don’t need to be in your Bible, listening to worship music, praying out loud to be apart from God. You just need to be reflexively blocking him out of your thoughts and feelings, like He’s not even there.

 

And I know I’m not alone in that. Believers that hold to an unbreakable life-long consistency are few and far between. We walk away- we walk back, shaking off all the things we didn’t even know were killing us at the time.

 

On Facebook, God and I have always had an It’s Complicated kind of relationship, because that’s been my journey. I walked away when I was ashamed. I walked back when I hit the floor of my loneliness. I ran far far away when the church folk said I didn’t belong. I went full steam back when a new church held me closer than any had before.

 

There have been times when my own unkindness toward myself has kept me away from God. I was my own worst enemy and left alone, I could really do a number on myself.

 

I know that David isn’t talking about this kind of resting place, he’s referencing the shelter of God. But I write in reaction to what I’ve read and this hit on something I had been thinking about.

 

And what if my walking away is that resting place? What if, when the church becomes too painful, God becomes too confusing and scary, He sets aside a place where I have to face my own reflection and understand how horrible I’ve been to myself? Where I can understand that until I love who I am, the world will still be able to crush me. Where I can understand that even at my very most self-loving frame of mind, it is still incomparable to His adoration for me.

 

Brennan Manning, the author/speaker/preacher/also the guy that has reunited Christ and I more than anyone in the whole world, gave a series of talks in 1996 at Seattle Pacific University and he spoke on how the greatest evil in our lives is self-rejection. More than greed, lust, every destructive thing relates to this. Nothing separates us more than when we believer we are the bottom of the dumpster. The crap of the creator.

 

And he quotes something from Paul Tillich. Something that quickened me into a desire to walk, jog, then sprint forward into the story of a Jesus that loves me.

 

“The beginning of faith is in accepting that you are acceptable.”

 

Accepting that in my own jadedness, bitterness, cynicism, pet peeves, offensive action, self-condemnation, laziness, busyness, my low and high, my deep and wide Jesus accepts me wholly, loves me fully, madly embarrassingly falling on his face happy in love with me.

 

Even when I walk away, He’s there, providing a place of rest, a place of renewal.

 

RR

~~~

 

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