Monday, June 7, 2010

Psalm 73

1 Surely God is good to Israel,
to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
I had nearly lost my foothold.

3 For I envied the arrogant
when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have no struggles;
their bodies are healthy and strong.

5 They are free from the burdens common to man;
they are not plagued by human ills.

6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
they clothe themselves with violence.

7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
the evil conceits of their minds know no limits.

8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
in their arrogance they threaten oppression.

9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
and their tongues take possession of the earth.

10 Therefore their people turn to them
and drink up waters in abundance.

11 They say, "How can God know?
Does the Most High have knowledge?"

12 This is what the wicked are like—
always carefree, they increase in wealth.

13 Surely in vain have I kept my heart pure;
in vain have I washed my hands in innocence.

14 All day long I have been plagued;
I have been punished every morning.

15 If I had said, "I will speak thus,"
I would have betrayed your children.

16 When I tried to understand all this,
it was oppressive to me

17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
then I understood their final destiny.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
you cast them down to ruin.

19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors!

20 As a dream when one awakes,
so when you arise, O Lord,
you will despise them as fantasies.

21 When my heart was grieved
and my spirit embittered,

22 I was senseless and ignorant;
I was a brute beast before you.

23 Yet I am always with you;
you hold me by my right hand.

24 You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will take me into glory.

25 Whom have I in heaven but you?
And earth has nothing I desire besides you.

26 My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.

27 Those who are far from you will perish;
you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.

28 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 am so thankful that God gave me these verses last year at camp, which by the way is NEXT WEEK and I can't believe that it's already here again- it feels like it was just yesterday! Anyways, God impacted my life with these verses a year ago, and He is still impacting me with them now. I love how scripture is eternal and ongoing and continues to challenge, convict and teach people even over the past 2,000 years.

But back to my main point. This chapter.

The first 12 verses talk of how it seems like the wicked have such prosperous lives and get everything they want. Yes, they are evil, but they have no problems and are liked by others. They can do whatever they want to do and look good doing it.

So that's the wicked. But now verses 13 and 14. Here's where I come in.

I envy the wicked. Why? You might ask? Well, they have prosperous lives and they get everything they want. Yes, they're evil, but they have no problems and are liked by others. They can do whatever they want to do and look good doing it.

And I want that.

I want to be 'popular'. I want to be with the 'in-crowd'. Not as much a status thing, but more an acceptance. I'm always speak out against the evil that I see in others, but feel rejected, so I decide to forget about my standards and try to fit in by doing evil.

Of course, that marvelous idea backfires every time. Evil is evil, no matter what the circumstances. Somehow, right as I decide to take the plunge and do the wrong thing, all the wicked people stop doing it. Right as I decide that I would rather do something wrong because everyone else is doing it, everyone else stops. And before I know it, they are the ones correcting ME of the wrongdoings. Ironic? Well, I think that is God teaching me how stupid I really am.

Now that is embarrassing. The wicked correcting me? The stereotypical homeschooled Christian teenager? But not just to me personally. As a Christian, my life is to be a reflection of Christ's. But when I'm in this position, I am the complete opposite.

Right now as I'm writing this, I feel so stupid. Why would I do this? It's obviously so wrong! But I have an outside perspective right now. It's different when you're right in the middle of a decision. But hopefully now I have learned from my mistakes will, by the grace and strength of God, will think before I act, and weigh the consequences of every action.

I need to have an eternal perspective- nothing on this earth matters. Only eternity. My human image is not worth dishonoring my Heavenly Father's Holy name.

But all this 'drama', I guess you could call it, has left a deep regret in my heart. I have failed on so many levels. I have sacrificed my modesty, character, speech, and so many other things just to be accepted by the wicked. And I regret that. I regret that now because my reputation has suffered- but as I said before, my reputation is just a little speck in comparison to the image of Christ that I am supposed to be displaying. I feel like I have failed so much that I am not even worthy to be known as a child of God.

In one respect, this is a good thing. It is very humbling to realize all that I am not worthy of. It is good to understand, even in just a small way, my insignificance.

But it has become a real problem with me. It's turning into a pity-party for Stephanie. The focus has shifted off of God's wonderful and miraculous grace, and onto me. That is so not right.

But verse 26 has comforted me, and has helped me to shift the focus back to where it belongs:

"My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."

God continually demonstrates perfect forgiveness to me. And not only that- He is the strength of my heart. He will continue to give me the strength to resist temptation, and be with me when I feel rejected by others. He is all I need, now and forever more.