By Melissa Elizondo
It’s really annoying when you’re in a situation when you know what you should do — and don’t do it. It’s especially exasperating when other people start getting irritated with you for said situation or fault. And then, before you know it, no matter how many good qualities you have, you’re known by the one part of you that refuses to fall into line.
And you can argue about the existence of heaven and hell, but ask anyone who has been branded by their worst characteristic, and you might just find your answer. Nathanial Hawthorne was one famous writer who took up the subject of flaws and perfection in works like The Scarlett Letter and The Birthmark, where the characters had to wrestle with their very human flaws and how society decided to judge them in response to that.
In this age of social media where Google tells us how to solve all our problems in 5 steps or less and Facebook shows us vacation pictures of our friends, I wonder how many of us have found that elusive something that gives us what we’re looking for — or just feel burdened by a struggle no one seems to get.
What’s fascinating about Psalms and the Bible is the kind of lives the people in it had. I’ll find myself whining about having no time to do the laundry or read some book, and some of the people in there are getting thrown into lions’ dens, fending off an evil edict that says they have to kill all male children, fighting famine or plague or a whole host of ills that makes Survivor seem tame.
Sometimes when you just want a break from It All, it helps to wonder: Just how did these guys make it through life with their limbs and sanity intact? When you’re a mom of two little children, you’re always on the hunt for something that keeps you sane, keeps you on a safe place, keeps you satisfied. In fact, even if you’re life is just bland at the moment, you’re probably still hunting for something more — cause aren’t we all?
It’s in Psalms I see David praising God for rescuing him, which, if you’ve read Psalms, is not so surprising. David’s an interesting character because even if he’s a holy guy, he seems to be a lot like me. He’s always finding himself in some kind of mess. He’s always asking for help.
During one particularly tired and weary moment when I felt caught again in my very ordinary stuff, I am searching for something that affirms I’m stronger than the tide of my own weakness— and find myself stumbling on a detail I can’t quite get — in Psalm 18.
Psalm 18 has some of the most vivid language used to depict one particular event when the Lord saved David and I’ve read it often, always noticing David mentioning “the cleanness of his hands” and being “blameless before him” and being rewarded according to “his righteousness” — things that always make me check to see if I’m measuring up.
What I hadn’t noticed before was this one small part: “He brought me out into the open; He rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:9) It’s the small detail that makes the whole fight against should and shouldn’t a total game changer. Because I know what I should and shouldn’t do. You probably do too. But what I don’t know is what it’s like to be rescued from that cycle — because I’m delighted in.
I don’t know if you have people in your life who love you and support you, but even the best people can still drive you crazy at times. At least, they do for me. I half suspect they’d really like it if I changed a few more things, got my act a little more together, fixed up some of the messier aspects of myself. And to be honest, I do the same thing to them. So even the best relationships can’t give me what David is talking about in the Psalms. In fact, what makes the people in my life stand in stark contrast to this situation so interesting is how David describes things about God, saying things like “Your right hand upholds me, your gentleness exalts me.” Psalm 18:35
When I look at the Psalms, I wonder if the guy who wrote most of them and was confronted for things like adultery and murder by God’s own prophet repents not because he “should.” Sometimes, when you read of the account of people in the Bible heading back to God, I wonder if it’s because they have found that beyond all they are and aren’t — they are delighted in.
Sometimes when I find myself pulled out of the wreckage of myself again by a force I worry I’ve disappointed with my messiness, I find myself considering the God that David describes in this Psalms, eyes wondering if in this age where all the answers lie at the tip of our fingertips and we can talk to people anytime we want, how many of us know what it’s like to be rescued — because we’re delighted in?