Every black-inked fear I had scrawled on the pages of my journal earlier was addressed in this psalm of David—thousands of years old and yet still speaking to me.
One morning in August, I had a conversation with God, but let me be honest, I word-vomited to him. Because he couldn’t get a word in edgewise, he just waited. Black ink spewed my recurring struggles on the pages of my journal—fear of failure, shame, imperfection, and ugliness. Over the years, my obsessive navel-gazing has lessened in frequency and intensity under God’s care. Still, like unwanted visitors, these fears knock on my door when I am in a place of transition. My husband and I were farm-sitting, a staycation retreat partly to ask the next-right-step questions, crossroads kinds of questions.
I carried my paraphernalia into the woods. Ahead of me, my walking stick moved the growth under my feet to shoo away any waiting or resting residents. As I moved into the shadowy depths, my interior grew silent, settling into the hushed stillness of my surroundings. For the moment, this was holy ground. His time to speak and me to listen. I opened my favorite app to lead my audible Scripture reading. I don’t follow this listening schedule daily, so I had no idea what the text would be.
It was Psalm 34:1-8.
By the fourth reading of the passage, I was overcome. In some ways, I was thankful the noise of the woods muted my weeping and shouting. Every black-inked fear I had scrawled on the pages of my journal earlier was addressed in this psalm of David—thousands of years old and yet still speaking to me.
Here’s how my soul heard this psalm…
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. When I look to him, I am radiant, and my face will never be ashamed. Swathed in his radiance, nothing can be ugly. This poor woman, alone in the woods, cried out to the Lord. The Lord heard her and saved her out of all of her troubles. Ugliness, shame, failure, and imperfection cannot remain standing when his praise is continually in my mouth. When I look to him, my face is radiant. When I magnify and exalt his name, my head is lifted to him, not the lint in my belly button.
There I stood on a deer path in the woods, hands lifted high, receiving his healing and empowering words. Those unwanted visitors slunk away, sliding into the shadows from where they came. Earlier in the week, my friend prayed for me “to believe what God has given me, to receive it with open arms…to feel your embrace as she holds tightly to your words for her.”
These words of David’s were God’s words for me, and I am holding to them tightly.
Of course, these fears will still knock on my door, but I don’t have to answer them. If they try to edge their way in, God’s word is hidden in my heart, and they won’t have the open-door welcome they once received. Sadly, I suffer from some spiritual amnesia and have opened the door to my fears since that morning; however, they haven’t made it past the foyer.
I’ve decided to put up a no trespassing sign.
What word do you need to believe and receive from God? Could I gently suggest that perhaps, like me, you need to stop talking and listen? Are the sacred space of silence and his holy word beckoning you? What visitors need to be shown the door and not welcomed back? Ask God to show you and to help you receive his word for you.
Then magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!