Sunday, April 15, 2012


A week or so ago I gave a devotion for a group of mostly strangers and included parts of my story I can't share publicly for various reasons.  Ever since then my spirit has been unsettled, like I've opened a hidden can of personal issues that I haven't dealt with and they're wriggling around my spirit like earthworms.

In psalm 77, the psalmist is recalling the wonders of God and he says 

The waters saw you, God,
   the waters saw you and writhed; 
   the very depths were convulsed. 
The clouds poured down water, 
   the heavens resounded with thunder; 
   your arrows flashed back and forth. 
Your thunder was heard in the whirlwind, 
   your lightning lit up the world; 
   the earth trembled and quaked.

The imagery here is recalling how God parted the waters for Moses, but it feels like my soul right now. By exposing parts of my heart that were previously hidden, I've let in the light of the gospel and now my spirit is writhing and convulsing in the presence of God's mighty hand at work.

     So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place.  And then I just scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully...In a minute or two I just stepped out of it.  I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty.  It was a most lovely feeling.  So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.  But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw they were all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly  just as they had been before.... So I scratched and tore again and this underskin peeled off beautifully and out I stepped...  Well, exactly the same thing happened again.  And I thought to myself, oh dear, how ever many skins have I got to take off.  
    Then the lion said - but I don't know if it spoke - "You will have to let me undress you." I was afraid of his claws, i can tell you, but I was nearly desperate now.  So I just lay flat and let him do it.   
     The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right to my heart.  And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I've ever felt.  The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off....   
     And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch... I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on.
Right now I feel like I'm in that uncomfortable shedding phase, not quite willing to let Christ have his way with me because I'm still sore and tender for the last time he dug his claws into me. So Psalm 73 is particularly relevant to me right now:

Surely God is good to Israel, 
   to those who are pure in heart.
But as for me, my feet had almost slipped; 
   I had nearly lost my foothold. 
For I envied the arrogant 
   when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
They have no struggles; 
   their bodies are healthy and strong. 
They are free from common human burdens; 
   they are not plagued by human ills. 
Therefore pride is their necklace; 
   they clothe themselves with violence. 
From their callous hearts comes iniquity; 
   their evil imaginations have no limits. 
They scoff, and speak with malice; 
   with arrogance they threaten oppression. 
Their mouths lay claim to heaven, 
   and their tongues take possession of the earth. 
Therefore their people turn to them 
   and drink up waters in abundance. 
They say, “How would God know? 
   Does the Most High know anything?”
This is what the wicked are like— 
   always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.
Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure 
   and have washed my hands in innocence. 
All day long I have been afflicted, 
   and every morning brings new punishments.
If I had spoken out like that, 
   I would have betrayed your children. 
When I tried to understand all this, 
   it troubled me deeply 
till I entered the sanctuary of God; 
   then I understood their final destiny.
Surely you place them on slippery ground; 
   you cast them down to ruin. 
How suddenly are they destroyed, 
   completely swept away by terrors! 
They are like a dream when one awakes; 
   when you arise, Lord, 
   you will despise them as fantasies.
When my heart was grieved 
   and my spirit embittered, 
I was senseless and ignorant; 
   I was a brute beast before you.
Yet I am always with you; 
   you hold me by my right hand. 
You guide me with your counsel, 
   and afterward you will take me into glory. 
Whom have I in heaven but you? 
   And earth has nothing I desire besides you. 
My flesh and my heart may fail, 
   but God is the strength of my heart 
   and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish; 
   you destroy all who are unfaithful to you. 
But as for me, it is good to be near God. 
   I have made the Sovereign LORD my refuge; 
   I will tell of all your deeds.

I find my heart tempted, so tempted to envy the arrogant and wonder why I have sought purity in vain. I find a strong resistance to the cleansing work of the spirit.  Like verse 14 I have been plagued and punished every morning noon and night, and like vs 21-22 my spirit has been grieved and embittered so I find myself senseless an ignorant.

And I need to enter the sanctuary, to realize the destiny of the evil, and embrace the goodness of God. I need to know that he holds me by my right hand and will take me into glory.

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