Demands, requests, responsibilities, all converged into the perfect storm; a storm so fierce, all vision of the way forward was obscured. Worse, buried by the onslaught, I felt unseen, lost in a heap of quandaries, with no hope of resolution. When you can’t take one more step, where do you turn? I put my head down, rely on my iron will and blindly push forward. Why? Because bad habits are hard to break. But, allow me to show you a more excellent way.
Sometimes I marvel at the Lord’s wisdom in delaying His intervention in our lives. In His omniscience, He knows just how far to let us run before the proverbial rope comes to an end. This was one such a day. Struggling with a level of exhaustion I have not experienced in quite some time, this day greeted me with demands from every corner; personally, professionally and relationally. Of course “in the moment” all I saw was unnecessary chaos; but afterwards, a valuable, life changing lesson.
And in that day thou shalt say, O Lord, I will praise thee: though thou wast angry with me, thine anger is turned away, and thou comfortedst me.
Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid: for the Lord Jehovah is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation.
Therefore with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation.
And in that day shall ye say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the people, make mention that his name is exalted.
Sing unto the Lord; for he hath done excellent things: this is known in all the earth.
Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee.
when god’s word is your next step
Understanding the value of scripture memorization, I actively add verses and passages to my heart memory each week. Navigating my recent stormy day impressed upon my heart more firmly the need for imprinted scripture on my mind and heart. I memorized the above chapter from Isaiah during Lent with my friend Lisa Burgess at Do Not Depart. While I thoroughly enjoyed working on the passage, little did I realize God would use the exact passage on that chaotic day, as He pulled me out of confusion and stood me upon a rock.
As much as I would love teaching this entire passage, I promise to share only the three truths the Lord impressed upon me that unruly day. Ironically, God led me to two other passages where the phrase, “The LORD is my strength and my song; he also is become my salvation” is repeated. In one instance my morning reading traveled through Psalm 118, when I paused at Psalm 118:14, and the second instance, a devotional I read quoted Exodus 15:2. Immediately I recognized the familiar words from Isaiah 12:2. When you can’t take one more step, God’s Word IS that next step.
the lord is my strength
My survival mentality and fierce independence foster the resiliency most people admire about me. While those traits have a place in our spiritual walk, they also present a hindrance to spiritual growth by undermining dependence on God when out of balance. God continues gently reminding me, “cursed is he that trusts in man and looks to the flesh for help”, whereas “blessed is the man whose confidence is in the Lord.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8) Painfully, the realization struck me, I once again trusted in myself and my own strength for managing a situation I later learned was designed by God for evidence of His all sufficient power.
The overwhelm washing over me in relentless waves resulted from my single minded perception of enduring hardness and “handling it”; only deep down I knew it was beyond my strength. But then that was the point; in my weakness, God’s strength shines forth. (2 Corinthians 12:10) I cannot “be troubled on every side, yet not distressed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, cast down but not destroyed,” unless the excellency of the power is of God not me. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10) He orchestrated my challenging day as another opportunity for me to increase my dependence on Him, and so others saw His strength not mine. Resulting in a testimony of God’s great power, rather than my amazing resiliency.
the lord is my song
When facing insurmountable obstacles, the LORD is my strength, but He also is my song. In all three passages mentioned above, (Isaiah 12, Psalm 18:14, Exodus 15:2), the name for God used in the Hebrew is “Yahweh”; His covenant name. God reveals Himself through many “names” in scripture, but only uses His covenant name of Yahweh when He is referencing His personal relationship with His people. Considering these verses again through the intimacy of God’s covenant name, pervaded the meaning of “the LORD is my song”.
Every song springs from inspiration, with the purpose of communicating emotion, praise or a perceived truth. The Psalms give perfect illustration as the psalmists portray strong emotions of lament, joy and injustice along with praise, adoration and truth about God. All pouring forth from the depth of the well of realtionship with the covenant God, Yahweh, in every season of life. As Christians, the covenant God lives within us in the person of the Holy Spirit; our “song” is not only inspired by a relationship with God, it IS God. “Deep calls unto deep”; the depth of my despair called unto the depth of God’s love. (Psalm 42:7) Resulting in “His song” overflowing through me to not only speak to God, but of God. (Psalm 42:8)
the Lord is my salvation
The battle on that day called me to remember the LORD is my strength, the LORD is my song and finally the LORD is my salvation. Again, viewing this statement through God’s covenant name of Yahweh reveals salvation is more than the one time transaction at Calvary moving me from the kingdom of darkness into God’s kingdom of light. (Colossians 1:13) The Gospel bears no “Help Wanted” sign, where God saves us from eternal damnation to do life through our own strength. Rather the Gospel bears a “Help Given” sign by which God rejoices to do us good. (Jeremiah 32:40-41)
In rejoicing to do us good, God in His love and lavish care goes far beyond removing our sins and making us heirs together with Christ. The work He began at salvation, He continues each and every day, (Philippians 1:6)making us new, working in and through us, indwelling us and engaging in an intimate relationship with us. Delivering us from all our troubles; (Psalm 54:7)He knows every need, and the answer for every obstacle we face and extinguishes every fiery dart the enemy casts. When you can’t take one more step, remember, no matter what any day brings, everything sifts through God’s hands of deliverance. (Psalm 34:19)
When you can’t take one more step
Confronted with navigating a day full of potential land mines or a day filled with ease and pleasantry, my choice without a doubt would be the latter. In this case, however, I rejoice in God’s thrusting me into a day fraught with trouble. Why? Because I learned three of the most valuable truths for my spiritual walk.
- The LORD is my Strength. Forsake self reliance; God’s strength is made perfect in my weakness, I have nothing so He can provide everything, receiving all glory.
- The LORD is my song. Deep calls unto deep. In the depth of my sorrow I cry out; outwardly, the pressures of trials and life weigh heavy, but deeper still is the love of God, which overcomes all sorrow and distress carrying them for me, away from me.
- The LORD is my salvation. God not only rescued me from sin and the power of darkness, He continues His perfect work in and through me, delivering me from all my afflictions.
When you can’t take one more step, lean hard into God and listen for His still small voice speaking His Word into your storm. Let deep call unto Deep, and the strength of Yahweh’s covenant love will strengthen your heart, becoming your song and salvation.
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