Dignity and Joy

Every time I go to a new doctor, such as a specialist, I have to go through my medical history, which is rather lengthy. Because some of the history requires explanation, personal history also has to be divulged. It leaves me feeling rather ‘exposed’ in more ways than one… Afterwards, the nurse and the doctor make comments that I have been through a tumultuous series of events in my lifetime. (I am not disclosing everything in this story because some of it is deeply personal.) After nine surgeries, an inoperable brain tumor, a near fatal car accident, failed marriages, and many other catastrophes, I suppose I have, but I don’t look at it that way. To me those things are my past, those are things I’ve survived. I see that I am here, I am alive and I am loved

As I drove home today, I thought about the reactions I have received over the years, the all too familiar ones, time after time, to my life history. But that is the key – it IS history. And that’s where it should stay – in the archives… only to be brought out when needed for medical examination, not for emotional rumination! Chewing the cud is only beneficial to the cow (a ruminant). 

Today, when the nurse finished with all the questions, she looked at me and shook her head. I wasn’t asking for her pity, I was only answering the questions. I don’t need pity. She said the all-familiar phrase, in her words. “You have really been through so much in your life!” I looked at her, smiled, and gently said “Yes, I have, and God is good! He has brought me through it all! I couldn’t have gone through it without him. I am here and I’m sane and I know I have a purpose in my life. It’s funny when I look back, it’s hard to believe I went through all of that, because I don’t think about it until I have to recount it to a new doctor, then I put it away again, in the past. I focus on today.” She just shook her head again and said “Wow!” then left the room.

Yes, there have been things that could have taken away my dignity. There have been times I have lost family members for lengths of time. I have lost friends over lies that have been told about me. I have lost tens of thousands of dollars because of people I’ve been involved with… I’m not discussing details, Thank you. I don’t hold those things against any of them. I pray they come to know God and the truth. But I made it through by the grace of God and the mercy of friends and family. Any of these circumstances could have stolen my dignity or my joy. But, I would have had to allow my dignity and my joy to be stolen. The only way our dignity or our joy can be taken from us, is that we allow it to happen. I plan to hold on to both and I urge you to do the same!

Then I will hold my head high
    above my enemies who surround me.
At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices with shouts of joy,
    singing and praising the Lord with music. Psalm 27:6
(my emphasis)

The Abyss

Abyss – n. (uh-bis) 1. a deep, immeasurable chasm; a hollow pit.  2. unending profound knowledge, enlightenment or understanding that keeps growing; endless, unfathomable, infinite.  

Deep calls unto deep. “I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs; praying to God who gives me life.” Psalm 42:7-8 (NLT)

These two verses have captured my attention this week. When my husband & I married, we knew that we would be more effective together than we were apart. We know that God is going to use us as a team to calm the storms, so to speak, in the lives of others. We are seeking him daily as we follow his path for our lives. 

We have been through quite a bit in our first ten months of marriage. When we married, he was the associate pastor of a church where he had been for nine years and an administrator of a small private school. Only six short months into our marriage, due to unforeseen circumstances, the church and the school closed. It was not a total surprise, but it was an adjustment for him to go from full-time ministry and seek a position back in ‘the world.’ This doesn’t mean that our ministry is over, it has just been changed, redirected, and there are opportunities every day, if we see them. When we stop seeing our lives as a ministry, we have lost faith in God. I pray that never happens. There is always room to grow, develop, and learn more of God.

Sometimes when we face changes in our lives, it can seem like we are facing an abyss, a deep chasm. When we focus on the change and not the solution, we may become overwhelmed. It is in times like these, that we must step back, from our natural tendencies, and seek what God has in store for us. Every day is an opportunity to learn and grow, no matter what we are facing. When we grow or increase, God increases. We are the harbingers (messengers) of God, if we are following him. I hope that we reflect all that is good and loving, or we have missed the mark.

I would like to break these verses down into what I was seeing as I studied and reflected on them. There is so much beneath the surface; there are parallels, and insights if we only dig. An immediate & simple interpretation of the verses tell me that God is near us when the seas rage and wash over us, that in his unfailing love, he will pull us through. That is an awesome thought process by itself but I knew just from the first phrase, there was so much more to these verses. In the KJV, the phrase is ‘Deep calleth unto deep…’ 

In summary, I will explain in my own words what this passage means to me now:

“To obtain immeasurable knowledge, we must seek from an unfathomable source, and hear the Voice who calls to each of us. That source is God. The voice is springing forth from all who are a conduit of the Living Water. All the storms and trials will pass over me, not necessarily unscathed, but safe, covered protectively when I am following and looking to him as my sustenance, because he made a new covenant with me when the stone was rolled away. He finished it and sealed it with his death, burial, and resurrection. He has now passed the mantle to carry on the work he set forth. The Lord, the eternal one, the creator of the universe will enable me as a messenger to share His favor, mercy, and unchanging Love to all who will hear. As I am spreading his message, he will lavish me with His faithful love in the form of a protective cloud and a mighty pillar of fire which doesn’t go out in the darkest hours. His provision will allow me to provide for others through His abundance. He will give me His songs in great number, the songs of praise and thanksgiving with wisdom from an Almighty God, who is forever present throughout my life, like a springing well full of fresh and flowing water.” 

Prayer: Lord, help my abyss to be one of seeking your wisdom and knowledge for my life and not one of emptiness. Help me to share from your unending supply of living water. Help others to be drawn to your well deposited in me that their thirst might be quenched. Thank you for your unfailing love which carries me daily. Amen!

(Feel free to read the footnotes of my study below. The notes on these verses were brought together by using the Hebrew words and their meanings. In some footnotes, I have also included scriptures which use the same meaning of the word.) 

Psalm 42:7-8 “Deep[1] calleth unto deep at the noise[2] of thy waterspouts[3]: all thy waves[4] and thy billows[5] are gone over[6] me. Yet the Lord[7] will command[8] his lovingkindness[9] in the daytime[10], and in the night[11] his song[12] shall be with me, and my prayer[13] unto the God[14] of my life[15].”

[1] Deep = Hebrew – tehom: an abyss (something immeasurable or unfathomable); subterranean water, which comes from rock & is usually in the form of natural springs.

[2] Noise = H – qowl: voice, to call aloud (in the Garden of Eden, Adam & Eve heard ‘the voice’ walking Genesis 3:18); a trumpet sound “Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” Isaiah 6:8 “Thou shalt be visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.” Isaiah 29:6

[3] Waterspouts = H – Tsinnuwr – water conduit; hollow culvert – we are hollow without Jesus, he replaces our emptiness with his water

[4] Waves = H – mishbar – breakers, billow, waves; Jonah 2:3 “For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.” (waves of death)

[5] Billows = H – gal – something rolled (stone at the tomb); heap of stones over a dead body or used to confirm a covenant (Genesis 31:48, Joshua 8:29 [king on a tree]; to do away with; spring Song of Songs 4:12

[6] Gone over = H – abar – to cover in an intimate way; to cross over; go beyond; set apart; call forth a sound; pass thru the veil, be purified, go into the promised land. Genesis 12:6 Abram passed thru to Canaan; 2 Kings 2:9 “And it came to pass, when they were gone over, that Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double portion of thy spirit be upon me.”; Esther 8:3 King Xerxes passed the mantle to Mordecai, to put away Haman’s evil which had been associated with his rule & passed it over to one who was worthy of leadership – Mordecai; Esther 9 Feast of Purim was to pass over from sorrow into joy

[7] Lord = H – YHVH Yahweh– eternal, unchanging, the existence of all life is derived from Him, the breath of life, the creator of the universe; His name was so revered under the old covenant that only the high priest uttered the name; a name so encompassing that it is difficult to interpret adequately.

[8] command = H – tsavah – send a messenger to carry out; to appoint; to ordain; to command Genesis 42:25 Joseph commanded to fill their sacks

[9] lovingkindness = H – checed – favor; devotion; loyalty; mercy; unchanging love. Isaiah 54:10 ““For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”

[10] daytime = H – yowmam – daily, following God daily. Psalm 78:14 “In the daytime he led them by a cloud, and all night by a pillar of fire.”

[11] night = H layil – nighttime as opposed to day; protective shadow. Proverbs 31:15 “She also rises while it is yet night, And provides food for her household, And a portion for her maidservants.”

[12] song = H – shiyr – song. Psalm 69:30 “I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” [Solomon wrote 1005 songs to the Lord]

[13] prayer = H – t@phillah – intercession, an appeal on behalf of another. Psalm 141:2 “Let my prayer be set before You as incense, The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”

[14] God = H – Almighty God, Immanuel, God with us.

[15] life = H – chay – living, flowing fresh water; life giving

Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts, all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. Yet the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song shall be with me, and my prayer unto the God of my life. Psalm 42:7-8

The Lord is My Shepherd, I have All that I Need!

Early in the morning, a shepherd would lead the flock to a spot to graze. He watched them the entire day, making sure not one of them got away. If any did wander off, he would find them and bring them back with the rest. In these lands the sheep required water and he would have to guide them to a running stream or wells where he would fill up troughs for them to drink. At night he brought the flock home, counting each one as they passed through the gate to make sure none were missing. His day didn’t end when they were corralled at sunset. Many times he had to guard them in the night through the darkest hours from attacks of wild beasts or attempts from thieves. Ever vigilant, ever protective, and always loving is the shepherd’s heart towards his sheep; seeing to their every need.

“The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name. Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (NLT)

Father, today we commit our brother into your shepherding hands to watch over him as he goes on this long journey away from his family. We know that you will be his shepherd both day and night, his guide, because he follows after you Lord. We thank you for protection for him wherever he is while he is on this journey and we thank you that he will be a beacon shining for you. We also commit his wife and boys to you to watch over her and lead her in her daily life while he is gone. We know that you provide All that we need and we thank you for your provision and your comfort. We love you Father and we thank you for your wisdom and guidance. We thank you for your goodness and your unfailing love in this difficult time and we know that your plan is better than ours. We submit to your will Father and we thank you again for loving us and providing for us. In Jesus name, Amen!