We have been sharing about the joy and benefit of learning to ‘wait’ on the Lord as a lifestyle; of finding our strength renewed as we journey through the day, learning to catch the thermals of His love. This is described in the Passion Translation as ‘wrapping our hearts in His’, Psalm 25:5, and we have been looking at the defence this gives us when life presses in on us, causing us to lose our peace.
There are times however, when the things that stop my heart from being ‘entwined’ with the Lord’s are in my own mind and heart. In other words it’s not always the external pressures of life, ‘the giants in the land’, that weigh me down and cause the weariness, quite often it’s the battles within, with my own thoughts and feelings.
Do you ever have a day like that, when you’re battling in your inner world? Those doubts fears, feelings of condemnation, grumpiness, even discouragement? Then what about feelings of envy, hopelessness, anger…….? the list is endless, and it is when this ‘battle for the mind’ is raging that we can feel most disconnected from the Lord. Far from feeling that our heart is entwined with His, we feel that He Himself would probably not want to be anywhere near us!
At these times I find the imagery from Psalm 24 especially helpful, and I come back to this psalm again and again. It is thought that the psalm was written to mark the occasion when the ‘Ark of the Lord’ was finally returned to Jerusalem from the house of Obed-Edom. It would have been sung as the procession approached the city gates. The Ark of course embodied the presence of God to the Israelites, and so there was great celebration at its return.
I envisage my heart as that city, and I know that I want to wait on the Lord, to feel my heart entwined with His (see blog 219), but there seems to be too much interference from unhelpful rogue thoughts. I want to focus on the Lord and His presence with me. I want to hear His whispers as I go through the day, but my heart is heavy, and so I need to ask Him to come and deal with the enemy within and restore His peace to my mind and heart.
The picture from the psalm that I find most helpful at these times is the one from verse seven, ‘Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of Glory may come in.’ Then that wonderful question, ‘Who is this King of Glory?’ and the answering cry ‘The Lord strong and mighty, The Lord mighty in battle.’ And again in verse 10 ‘The Lord Almighty-He is the King of Glory’.
If I want the ‘King of Glory, the Lord strong and mighty in battle’ to help me win the battle in my mind, then I need to invite Him in, I need to lift my head and open up the doors to the citadel that is my heart and welcome Him in. Now we know that the Lord will ‘never leave us or forsake us’ Hebrews 13:5. He lives within by His Spirit, so it is not that He is not with me at all, but we also know that we are encouraged to ‘keep being filled with the Spirit’ Ephesians 5:18, and we know that the Holy Spirit will come afresh to us as we ask and pray, Acts 4:29-31, so it’s always OK to ask for more.
These verses from Psalm 24 remind me that the King of Kings, who I am inviting into my heart afresh, the one ‘mighty and powerful in battle’ can deal with the battle in my mind too. So I set about opening up the gates in order to let Him come in, in battle array. The psalm describes this opening up as ‘lifting up’, and it is interesting how often our intention is mirrored by our posture. Other interpretations link this idea of ‘lifting up’ with rejoicing, praise and thanksgiving, and certainly lifting our heads, hands and voices can also make a big difference to us physically, as we open up afresh to the Lord.
Often the inner battles we face are fuelled by the lies of the enemy, and he is defeated by truth. As I worship, I find that my heart is again entwined with His, and the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth will speak the truth I need to hear into my heart, mind and spirit. We know that Jesus defeated the devil in the wilderness using ‘truth’, Matthew 4:1-11, and so can we, as we lift our heads and welcome the King of Glory in to fight with and for us.
For me thanksgiving is the key that unlocks those doors, that may feel very tightly shut. Thanksgiving, even for small and everyday things helps to fling those gates wide open again. Thanksgiving starts the worship off. It’s a powerful key and one that we can freely use at anytime, knowing that the Lord always responds to our welcome.