“God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea; Though its waters roar and foam, Though the mountains quake at its swelling pride. Selah.” Psalm 46:1-3 [NASB]
I am learning on this journey through the valley that the terrain is continually changing, constantly bringing with it new and unexpected challenges. Some days I think as a family we might be learning how to walk, but then suddenly it feels like the earth is shifting and quaking beneath our feet and we once again find ourselves struggling to just stand. The goals we set for ourselves on a daily basis are continually changing along with the shifting terrain.
In the immediate days following the accident we were inundated and overwhelmed by all the terrible details that accompany an unexpected death. Our goal at that time was set for us, we had to move through all that was required of us, focusing on one task after another. After the funeral the majority of those details were complete and we moved into a period where the goal was very much basic survival. We were learning how to breathe again, how to simply exist moment by moment as a family with a precious and cherished part of us now painfully missing. The goal shifted again slightly as we were faced with beginning to learn how to do all the things we routinely did together, but with sweet Sarah now gone. Going to church, going out to eat, going to the store, running errands, on and on the list goes. All simple activities of daily life, but all so excruciatingly hard while bearing the crippling weight of the heart break of her absence.
About three weeks after the accident it became clear that the enemy was not done with his attempt to sift us, spiritual warfare was raging about us. A new urgent goal emerged as a situation beyond our control wreaked of the stench of his handiwork. We realized Sarah’s admonition in her final journal entry was providential as it was imperative that we now be alert and sober minded to recognize the enemy prowling about us just as she had warned. I immediately began to question, “how do I walk in righteousness?” “How do we as a family walk in righteousness?” “What does righteousness look like in our situation?”
I long to be righteous, I long to be obedient, but I am so weary and my flesh wages war with the Spirit. I hurt, I ache beyond words, I get angry, I get discouraged, I want to quit, I want to give up, I don’t want to walk this detestable course that has been set for my family and me. In the end I only have two options, though, it’s an either-or situation: either I will live for Christ, or I won’t. I know the price with which I have been bought, so there is no choice at all, I must live for Christ, I must “Live Redeemed.” For weeks I have wrestled with how to do that practically, though. Right now, in this painful moment, in the midst of this war, plagued by this weary flesh, how do I walk in righteousness? I needed Him to break it down into simple steps for me through His Word, to give me a clear guide, one breath after the other, and one foot in front of the other. I need Him to take me by the hand and teach me how to walk in righteousness each part of this constantly shifting and quaking path, one step at a time.
Last week in His faithfulness He led me back to Psalm 37, and I have been clinging to it as a lifeline ever since. When I find myself struggling to breathe, struggling to hope, struggling to take another step I recite the simple yet challenging commands contained in that passage. I made a very simplified list of just the commands and have them up all the time on my laptop and posted on the refrigerator. The full text of Psalm 37 is beautiful and powerful, I meditate on it every morning and evening, but my simplified list is like a compass in my hand, I can quickly and repeatedly glance at it throughout the day to be certain I am walking in the right direction.
As the earth repeatedly shifts and quakes beneath our feet and I am left struggling to stand and walk in this valley, I am strengthened through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit and His Word. I am learning to consistently cry out to God immediately in the moment the earth tremors. As I cry out for help I also affirm His truth that He sees our plight and has not abandoned us. I frequently look to the heavens and tell Him in that moment that I trust Him and I am waiting on Him. He is good and faithful, He is righteous and just, He will neither abandon nor forsake my family or me. His Spirit and His Word testify within me that He holds each member of my family by the right hand and He will not allow us to be overtaken. He alone is our refuge.
Lord, help me to not fret, and to not be envious when evil seems to prevail. Help me to fix my eyes on You alone and to trust You fully. Open my eyes to see the good I need to do, and strengthen me to do it. Help me to live with a focus to bring glory and honor to You as I dwell in this land, and to daily long to dwell in Your land yet to come. Cultivate faithfulness in me as I regularly feed on Your Truth. Cause my heart to continually delight in You, open my eyes to each and every outpouring of Your grace, thereby restoring to me the joy of Your salvation. Enable me to commit my ways to You, and to trust You. Give me grace to cease striving, to rest in You, and to wait patiently for You. No matter the challenges before me, may my eyes be so fixed on You that I am not even tempted to fret. Empower me to surrender to You that which angers me, and to forsake the wrath that is so easily justified. May Your Word so richly indwell me that that which is designed to cause me to fret will instead strengthen my faith to wait all the more eagerly for You. Lord, lead me, teach me, equip me, strengthen me and sustain me to walk in righteousness as “a child of Light” that Your name may be praised.
“Mark the blameless man, and behold the upright; For the man of peace will have a posterity. But transgressors will be altogether destroyed; The posterity of the wicked will be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is from the LORD; He is their strength in time of trouble. The LORD helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them, Because they take refuge in Him.”
Psalm 37:37-40 [NASB]
Prayer Journal August 1, 2016
- for me to have peace and joy that only comes from having Jesus in my life
- for me to live as a free person
- for me to walk as a child of light
- for me to grow in my faith and to grow in my love for God
- for me to be thankful for today without worrying about tomorrow
- for me to look for opportunities to do what’s right and be kind
- for me to remember that I’m in a battle, but not against flesh and blood, but against the evil one.
- for me to pour my heart out to other people as God pours into me
~ Sarah Harmening