Psalm 91: 1 – 6 (NIV)
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare
and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
My wife recently wrote down several verses for me to memorize. She told me to memorize them because I have been filled with anxiety over my life, and it often manifests as mental torture during the night. I always wake up around 3:00 am, but I don’t need to get up until around 4:45. That means I have been starting my day with almost two hours of mental self-flagellation. She thought this verse would help. It does.
I castigate myself over and over about my past actions and decisions. I finally and utterly gave my life to Jesus a few years ago, but at almost 50, that means I have a backlog of transgressions that consume my mind. It’s exhausting. Whether personal or professional, I can’t stop my mistakes from playing around my cerebral cortex like a video loop from hell.
I do understand that, as a Christian, I believe that Jesus died so that I could live, and that once I confess with my mouth and believe with my heart (Romans 10:9), my sins are wiped clean, and I am saved for eternity. I can be taught. I can learn. I know the Bible says that once I have given my life, my transgressions are as far away from me as the “East is from the West.” (Psalm 103:12) — I get it. Now to feel it….
How long does it take to feel in my heart the forgiveness that is promised through His word? Does it mean that I didn’t truly give my life? The very idea of “true belief” is hard for me to conceptualize. How do I know that I truly believe? I know it sounds simplistic, but I’m motivated to find forgiveness. I’m motivated to desire a savior. I’m motivated to say the right words.
I have witnessed many times events in my life that “feel” like God moving in and around me. I know He exists. I have never struggled with the idea of “intelligent design”. But just believing in God isn’t enough, is it? How do I know that I believe that Jesus was the manifestation of God? I haven’t studied even a minuscule fraction of the testimonies and documented evidence that I know exists that support the Bible’s representation. But even if I did study it all, my “true belief” would still boil down to faith in something about which I have only read or heard. I wasn’t there. I have to learn to “feel my faith”. I have to find the peace that comes with resting in the belief of Jesus’ words.
I live an agonizing life of shame and guilt; consequences of past decisions. What others recorded as Jesus saying makes sense to me. The words fill me with calm. I’m only a neophyte at learning the Bible, but so much of what He said seems utterly true; truth that I can feel within my innermost being, within my soul. That fact feels like God at work.
God, thank you for walking with me. Thank you for listening to me as I wonder about your awesomeness and how your spirit, your power, can (does) fill my life. As I walk this path, I will continue to seek emotional shelter under your wings. I will continue to find cover from the pain of living with past shames by reading your word. Thank you for providing me a way of soothing my sanctification process. Thank you for providing a balm to ease the suffering I created for myself. Thank you for providing Jesus.