If you’ve ever found you’re talking to yourself then you are in good company. A read of the Psalms and you’ll find references to King David speaking to his soul. But while I might have caught myself mumbling about the need for a coffee or questioning myself as to why did I walk into this room, King David shows more intentionality with his soul talk.
David’s life had its ups and downs, highs and lows. There were the threats to his very life, the problem with sin and its consequences, battles lost, to list just a few. And when we turn to the Psalms where he pours out his heart and expresses his vulnerability we find a key to pressing in with God. Frequently David is found to be telling his soul to worship God, to remember all that God has done for him, to be at rest. It’s a key that moves him past troubles, to take the focus off what is troubling him and magnify God in the situation. As David encouraged his soul to focus on God we see that his strength, his hope is restored.
When we focus on God, when we turn to Him for encouragement, we find that strength comes, hope returns and our soul can be at rest.
“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy.” (Psalm 103:1-5)
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:10)
“Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, O my soul. While I live will I praise the Lord: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. (Psalm 146:1-2)
Apparently in French you don’t say “I miss you.” You say “tu me manques” which means “you are missing from me.” I love that. It has so much more depth than just “I miss you.” It suggests that you aren’t complete without the other person. That they are of real significance to you and their absence has an impact on your life.
It makes me think that my 4 year old may have a little French in him. Earlier this year I went on a week long business trip to the States (that’s a long time for a little 4 year old). Ever since then interchangeably with him saying “I love you” he started saying and still often says “I missed you in America”. To him it’s one and the same. When he says I missed you, he is saying I love you.
St Augustine wrote at the start of his confessions, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” For me it is a perfect translation of sorts of “tu me manques.’ We are restless when God is missing from our lives. We have a God shaped hole that we seek to fill. It is a yearning that is infinite and unable to be quenched through worldly means. Peace comes, rest comes, completeness comes when we find God.
“My soul is yearning for you, my God” (Psalm 42:1)
“O God, you are my God, for you I long” (Psalm 63:1)
It was like I had been blanketed in a fog. I could almost tangibly feel the discouragement descend on me. And like when one is in a fog my vision felt obscured and impaired. There had been no trigger point rather just a general feeling of malaise. The discouragement, like a fog, was slow in its appearance. Maybe brought on by a week of being sick and not sleeping well. Feeling claustrophobic indoors and driven by a sense of urgency the boys were bundled into the car and we headed out for a drive. I wanted to get to a mountain top – somewhere high. Seeking elevation in the hope that as my physical position changed so would my soul. And so in the cold and the wind we did. I found my mountain. As I overlooked the city below and the boys excitedly explored around me, I breathed in the fresh air and felt the discouragement lift. In this pause on top of a mountain I opened my heart to God and was enveloped in His love. Strengthened by His presence.
Lift up your eyes and look to the Heavens…(Isaiah 40:26)
In life we need to be intentional, proactive when feelings of negativity, of discouragement or failure come against us. Like David we need to speak to our soul, inquire what is wrong and then encourage it. We need to remind our souls of what God has done for us and how He is there for us. And sometimes it means connecting with God as you stand on a mountain, gaining some perspective.
Whatever is causing your eyes to be downcast, be it fear or illness or just a general out of sorts, lift your eyes – for where does your help come from?
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Saviour and my God.” (Psalm 42:5)
God I look to You
I won’t be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like You do
God I look to You
You’re where my help comes from
Give me wisdom, You know just what to do
And I will love You Lord my strength
And I will love you Lord my shield
And I will love You Lord my rock
Forever all my days I will love you God
(God I look to you – Bethel Live)
“Our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.” St Augustine
“Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from Him.” (Psalm 62:1)
Like a wanderer – rootless, aimless, a rover – so too our soul often is. We roam, wander away from God through hurt, discontentment, through apathy, through boredom even. We sometimes let out soul roam wherever it pleases – to negative thoughts, to self pity and self centredness. We let our hearts be restless. We let it wander away from God. But like a homing beacon, we hear the call of God. Like a whisper over the seas calling 0ur hearts home again.
Our intent and focus may change, may shift away from God, but God’s love and intent for us never changes. His love for us never fails (Psalm 136). He’s the Father who watches and waits for His son to return home, ready to run the moment He catches a glimpse of him and welcome him home. Nothing we ever do can separate us from the love of God. No lonesome road that we travel down will ever stop us being found, being loved by Him.
“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:7-12)
I have heard it said that there is no angry way to say bubbles. Come to think of it you could say the same of cupcakes. Both light, pretty little joys of life. Anyway, why one would be angry and trying to say bubbles or cupcakes I cannot say.
Many years ago I was a volunteer at Radio Lollipops at Starship Children’s Hospital. Along with running a Radio station for the hospital we also spent time visiting the kids, playing games and doing activities with them. It was an opportunity to take their minds of their illnesses. The one activity I enjoyed the most was being in the Atrium blowing bubbles. It was always so popular with the little ones. They loved chasing the bubbles, trying to pop them, and even just watching them. I must admit spending an hour blowing bubbles and watching happy little faces was a refreshment for me and gave me as much joy.
Everyone needs some bubbles in their life. Little joys to brighten our days. Joy is something that God wants us to have in life. Joy is defined as a “triumph, cheerful and a calm delight, a deep feeling of contentment.” Some have described it as “the feeling of grinning inside.” It is something that should reside beneath the surface. Joy is not happiness which is a feeling and comes and goes. It is also not based on our circumstances. As Richard Wagner once said “joy is not in things, it is in us.” As Christians we have access to a joy that exists regardless of what our circumstances are like. Jesus said “I have come that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10)
More joy in one ordinary day than they get in all their shopping sprees. (Psalm 4:6)
Time to start blowing bubbles again!