Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Insulated and Isolated

I beg you from the bottom of my heart: smile, be gracious to me just as you promised.  When I took a long, careful look at your ways, I got my feet back on the trail you blazed. I was up at once, didn't drag my feet, was quick to follow your orders.  The wicked hemmed me in—there was no way out—but not for a minute did I forget your plan for me.  I get up in the middle of the night to thank you; your decisions are so right, so true—I can't wait till morning! 
(Psalm 119:58-62 The Message)

It is not an uncommon thing to tell God that we want ALL his blessings - each and every good thing that he has promised to us.  I wonder how many of us really know how to receive what has been given!  Most of us do a good job with the "asking" part -- but when it comes to "receiving" we stink!  We simply don't believe the provision is true, or we just don't reach out and make the blessing fully ours.  

David reminds us that it is in the times of taking those "long and hard looks" into our lives - truly seeing the way are headed by the choices we are making - that we come face to face with the provisions of God.  In the "pondering of our ways" we often realize that course corrections are in order.  We have a tendency to drift without even knowing we are drifting - yet our choices are clear cut indications of the direction we are traveling!

When we are "adrift" in life choices, we often find ourselves at a point where our "feet are swept out from under us".  Many times we don't even know what happened to get us "down" -- we just know we are no longer standing strong.  Yesterday I told a co-worker that I sometimes feel alone in a whole crowd of people.  I can be surrounded with people enjoying life and having a great time celebrating each other -- yet in the midst of all that revelry, I feel isolated.

Why is it that I get to this place?  Why is it that you may find yourself alongside me in that same place of "isolation" in the midst of so much activity?  There are probably a couple of reasons:

- I think it might be because we have "insulated" ourselves so that we cannot really be approached by others and affected by their lives.  There are times in life that we just don't want any influence from "without" to impact what it is that we are experiencing "within".  So, we insulate ourselves, keeping what we are experiencing to ourselves.  This can be a very dangerous spot to find ourselves in -- isolated people who insulate themselves from the influence of others often drift deeper into the "stories" they are telling themselves!  For instance, if we honestly believe that we have not one talent that the group may benefit from, we isolate and insulate, so that we won't be hurt when we experience their PERCEIVED "rejection".  In actuality, if we never venture out of our protection, we will never know if there will be rejection!

- Perhaps it might be a result of some failure that we are brooding over.  We find ourselves bemoaning some aspect of character flaw that we continue to struggle with and "pull inside" so as not to allow others to see that "flaw" any clearer than it is already apparent.  Guess what?  No matter how much "cover-up stick" we apply to a blemish, there is still a blemish underneath all that make-up!  It may not be glowing bright red on the end of our nose, but it is still there!  It is amazing to me that we think that our character flaws will simply not be apparent if we skillfully cover over them with some type of "mask" we apply.  The truth is -- God is in the business of uncovering us so that we can be comfortable being just as we are -- no masks needed.

David reminds us that he gets down sometimes.  He gets off course at others. Maybe the two go hand-in-hand.  Yet, when he does, he recalls God's promise to be gracious to him -- a sinful man, prone to act in wrong ways on occasion, given to thinking wrongly about himself and others.  The grace of God is the basis of all of God's promises toward us.  Look at just a few of God's promises that David often recounted:

 8 Real help comes from God Your blessing clothes your people! (Psalm 3:8 The Message)

3-4 The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces.   You took over and set everything right; when I needed you, you were there, taking charge.  (Psalm 9:3-4 The Message)

8 And I'm an olive tree, growing green in God's house. I trusted in the generous mercy of God then and now.  (Psalm 52:8 The Message)

David knew his help was found in God and no other.  He recognized that the blessings of God are an encompassing thing - clothing his people in grace and mercy.  His protector and deliverer was none other than God - he kept that squarely before him even in the times when enemy influences seemed to be closing in around him, making him feel isolated and insulated.  He counted on the fact that God would regain control - even when he had taken the control out of God's hands for a while.  He owned up to the fact that growth was simply impossible unless God did the planting.  Look at the theme of what he repeatedly recounts -- I trusted God THEN and NOW.  

Getting back up on one's feet is not an easy matter -- it is made much easier when we trust God to do the lifting!  Trust him when you see no way out.  Recount his mercies when you feel no hope in your failure.  Open up to him when you begin to feel isolated and insulated from the very blessings he has placed in your life.  Then, and only then, will you be able to say, "I am walking in every promise you have given!"

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