Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Retreat

Psalm 119:113-120 (The Message)  "I hate the two-faced, but I love your clear-cut revelation. You're my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me. Get out of my life, evildoers, so I can keep my God's commands. Take my side as you promised; I'll live then for sure. Don't disappoint all my grand hopes. Stick with me and I'll be all right; I'll give total allegiance to your definitions of life. Expose all who drift away from your sayings; their casual idolatry is lethal. You reject earth's wicked as so much rubbish; therefore I lovingly embrace everything you say. I shiver in awe before you; your decisions leave me speechless with reverence."

Life is filled with all kinds of relationship challenges, but probably one of the hardest to deal with is when someone is two-faced. They act one way to your face, but behave completely different when your back is turned. The term David uses here lets us know that he is dealing with people who are false in their character – they are double-dealing, as it were. In the NIV translation, this term is rendered as “double-minded” – not really settled on one course of action, sometimes deceitful or misleading in their attitude or motivation. In addressing these relationship challenges, David says God is his refuge and shield – something he puts his hope in.

A refuge is a shelter or protection from danger or distress – a place that provides a means of resort for help in difficult circumstances. David has learned to look to God as his “resort” in difficult relationships. He comes to God as a place of quiet retreat – finding the strength to deal with the double-mindedness of those he is faced with. Not only is God his retreat, but he is his defense – his shield. You only need a shield when stuff is coming at you that may hurt you, penetrate your vulnerable parts. David uses God’s Word as a shield to keep his enemy’s “arrows” from penetrating him where he is most vulnerable and having a negative effect on him.

Double-minded people are more than somewhat dangerous to associate with. They have a tendency to bring confusion into a situation, misleading and distracting us from our straight course. Just by the very nature of their on-again / off-again behavior, they present unique opportunities for us to respond without malice or evil intent, to live according to God’ plan, and to not get wrapped up in things that will take us drastically off-course in our daily walk. We cannot face the challenge of discerning their “real” heart-intent without the help of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We see the two-faced, or double-minded, for what they really are (as God sees them) when we are seeing them through the discernment of spirit that comes when we have the correct “spiritual filters” applied in our lives. David says he finds those “filters” in God’s Word, in running to God directly as a refuge he can rely upon.

David describes the process of retreating into or toward God as his refuge in tough relationships. To many, the idea of retreating is to withdraw from that which is difficult, dangerous, or disagreeable. David is not saying he just “up and leaves” every relationship that is too difficult or disagreeable to him. He is moving to a place of safety – getting alone with God so he can regroup in prayer, meditation, study of the Word, and receive the instruction he desperately needs to know in order to respond in those relationships. He doesn’t “bail” – he finds the right perspective, keeps his heart right, and learns how to respond with the heart and mind of Christ in those difficult relationships.

The most remarkable and telling portion of this passage is David’s heart attitude – you stick with me, God, and I will be all right! The situation is difficult – there are tough times, difficult people to be around, and lots of opportunities for being “tripped up” – but if I have you on my side, I cannot fail! He knows that God will be there all along the way to expose those double-minded for what they really are – he doesn’t have to worry about that because his heart is secure in knowing that God is with him every step of the journey. When we face those tough relationships in life – we need to run to God as our refuge and our strong shield. As we do, we will be able to stand like David, knowing well that with God as our shelter, we are protected, made strong where we are most vulnerable, and will “come out all right” in the end.