Meditations on Two Psalms – 2nd Installment
I need to reiterate my purpose in sharing these meditations. I am doing so simply because, coming from my past, I need to remind myself of these principles fairly regularly to prevent me from falling into old ways.
My primary intention is not to teach or instruct, but to share my journey.
Much of that which has impacted me through the years of being on this pilgrimage has come from asking the Holy Spirit to open up scriptures, like for instance these two Psalms, to me. Even this has been a progressive exercise. At first I was simply keen to gather information and understanding and then regurgitate it as knowledge. There is obviously nothing inherently wrong with knowledge; without it we would be living with an impediment. But I discovered that, apart from the genuineness of my pursuit, there were two deeper roots in my heart to this practice that I had to be aware of.
· Knowledge has always been my primary door into giving me a standing place amongst my peers. This has been the case with me from very early on in life. It is an instinctive attempt on my part to impress others and in the process get the acceptance and recognition that I so deeply need.
· The second one was my subconscious understanding that the truth that I sought consisted of the sum total of the knowledge that I could accumulate; the more knowledge, the more truth. I realised that I easily fell into the trap of the Athenians on the Areopagus of whom it is said that they spent their time in nothing else but either to tell or to hear some new thing.
Although both these hidden motives were obviously skewed, me sharing knowledge and understanding nevertheless had a positive impact on me and on those with whom I shared my insights.
There was a time when I wanted to desist from sharing that which impacted me because I was aware of my tendency to use it as a means of obtaining self-value. I was however very gently confronted by the Holy Spirit on this matter when she pointed out to me that my knee-jerk reaction of silence was just another way of applying my fig leaf. Like our first parents, I did not want to face the nakedness of my true condition. My pride, which is just the flipside of shame and sense of inadequacy, would rather have me cover up. Yet it is only in being willing to look at my nakedness and acknowledge it that I could turn to the loving Trinity in an authentic way and avail myself of grace. Humility, or honesty, is the only key that provides access to the abundance of grace that has already been doled out to me and in which I am actually already standing knee-deep. It is now a choice of daily living into grace.
Then I also discovered that viewing knowledge as being the prime expression of truth had a limited shelf life; it did not produce the effects in my life that I desired. I realised that I had a deeper need to be in control of my journey than I thought that I had. My main way of doing this stemmed from the view that I needed to analyse and define my truth. That made me feel safe and in control. In retrospect I can see that I was fearful of allowing God; Papa-Jesus-Holy Spirit; to escape the confines of my file on them. I got to the place where I had no other choice than acknowledging all of this and take the plunge of relating to living Truth. The wonder of it all is that I am discovering depths of tender care emanating from the heart of the Trinity because they understand my captivity and my fear in a totally non-judgmental way and want to embrace me in it as I journey out of myself and into integration with their life. My prayer now is; Please help to not relate to facts and knowledge about You, but to the living You. I acknowledge that my default position is to go back to my old ways and that in myself I find it difficult to break free from old patterns, but will You help me to accomplish this.
Surprisingly I found that in spite of all these things that I viewed as shortcomings, people actually benefited from listening to me. I am therefore in no wise writing my history off as being wasted.
So much for a very long, but to me necessary, introduction to this instalment!!
Getting back to the two Psalms under consideration.
As I have said, I am embracing them because through their message I become profoundly aware of the invitation from the heart of the Trinity for me to return to my place of rightful being and abode. It is an invitation that stems from before creation existed and before time began. God, that is Papa, the Son and the Holy Spirit, knew that we would abandon our dependence on them and embark on a life of self determination. They planned for this before the foundation of the world and as a consequence reached into the heart of fallen humanity through the incarnation of the Son in the person of Jesus.
He entered into our humanity, being subject to the same world system with its man-centred value system and to the exact same temptations as we are, temptations inviting us to make our own choices and live independently from the Father and the Spirit. He could have gone the independent route at any moment in His life, but chose to remain rooted as Abba’s son being empowered by the Holy Spirit to do so. There are so many examples of this in the Bible that I don’t think it is necessary to quote them. Not my will but yours be done was not a once-off prayer in Gethsemane, it was the prayer of His life.
Paul’s letter to the Philippians beautifully sets fort the heart of the Trinity in this when he says:
And consider the example that Jesus, the Anointed One, has set before us. Let his mindset become your motivation. He existed in the form of God, yet he gave no thought to seizing equality with God as his supreme prize. Instead he emptied himself of his outward glory by reducing himself to the form of a lowly servant. He became human! He humbled himself and became vulnerable, choosing to be revealed as a man and was obedient. He was a perfect example, even in his death—a criminal’s death by crucifixion!
In this respect He is my shepherd, the last Adam who did that which the first Adam could not.
The question is, why do I need a shepherd? Isaiah unequivocally answers this by stating the universal condition of humanity, no exceptions:
We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And GOD has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him. (emphasis mine).
Peter echoes Isaiah’s statement, but adds another dimension to the solution when he says:
For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
There is no other way to be reintroduced to a Trinitarian life that is being lived as opposed to being theologized about than being shepherded by Him. Only my Shepherd, the one who walked my walk before me, can be with me and in me as He says to me meet My Papa and your Papa.
That is why David’s opening statement in Psalm 23 is so profound: The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. Because He is my shepherd and because I submit to His shepherding as a sheep who has gone my own way, I shall not want regardless of wherever I may find myself – in beautiful green pastures or restful waters or in the valleys of the shadow of death or of Baca. He is always in me even when it feels that is not the case. It is the valley experiences that expose my self reliance and in which I can choose to turn to my shepherd saying; you know what I am going through because you have been here. Please empower me as You were empowered.
There is so much more to be said about this and I shall try to add to it as I feel enabled to.