“The Lord reached down from above and took hold of me; he pulled me out of the deep waters” (Psalm 18:16 TEV).
I think about this Psalm a lot. I can’t remember exactly how many times He has pulled me out of the deep waters, but for certain, I know of a few. I become so disappointed in myself when I start to complain or grumble about things that may not be going right today. When I look back at how I used to handle my problems and how He guided me to safety, I feel somewhat ashamed and in need of His forgiveness for being such a drip. We all make mistakes and God forgives us those mistakes. I’m sure, however; that it must be difficult for Him to forgive us so much only to hear us bickering with ourselves when we can’t seem to resolve one tiny, little problem that we are having in our lives after coming through some major issues with His help. I know how I feel when my daughter complains about something she doesn’t have after I’ve given and given and given to her. It hurts. It makes me feel as though I’ll never be good enough. When I put things into that perspective, my heart indeed breaks for how God must feel when He hears me complain.
There is a wonderful song by the gospel group, Mary, Mary. I think its called “I Just Can’t Give Up Now.” When I listen to it, I get chills. They sing,
“I just can’t give up now.
I’ve come too far from where I started from.
Nobody told me the road would be easy
and I don’t believe He’s brought me this far to leave me.”
My initial reaction when I hear the song is, “Of course not!” He wouldn’t have pulled me through years of self-destructive behavior and opened my eyes to so many things if He’d intended to leave me hanging. He has a purpose for me. I can’t see what it is yet, though sometimes I feel like I might be on the right track. Sometimes, I don’t feel like I’m even on the right train, but on those days, I need to remember how far off I was when I was drinking too much and not acknowledging His presence in my life at all. Back when I had absolutely no intention of letting Him in, I had no direction. I had no purpose. Now, I know that my only purpose here on Earth is to glorify Him. My learning, my growing, my understanding that He has placed blessings in my life are all part of the purpose He has set for me. I have to believe also, that part of that purpose includes helping others to see the blessings in their lives and to understand all that He does for them.
It is so frustrating to hear conversations where people are either griping about something, blaming others for their problems or just plain forgetting that God is listening and shaking His head. Yesterday, I had the unfortunate experience of sitting in a room with a number of church-going people (as evidenced by the conversations I overheard) and being made to feel like I did not belong there. Only four of about forty women spoke to me, while the one sitting right beside me made it a point to turn her chair away from me when I sat down and then proceeded to completely ignore my presence for the duration of the event. It made no sense to me that in a group of Christian women, I would be made to feel so unwelcome. I only bring up the fact that they were church-going to make a point. If these women couldn’t be friendly, then how bad is it when you are in the midst of people who don’t believe in God or attempt to follow Him?
If I’m at a party or other gathering where I know absolutely no one, I don’t put on my snooty face and dare anyone to speak to me. I am generally a quiet person and so, I wait for someone to either introduce themselves or I look for the person who looks more nervous than I am and introduce myself to them. The two women sitting beside me had no intention of talking to me, even though the woman sitting two chairs down practically yelled over them to introduce herself to me. I sat there for about a half hour waiting to be included in the lengthy conversation they were having about church, babies, cake, and pianos, but no one invited me in or even looked in my direction. Of course, my feelings were hurt and I carried that grief with me for the rest of the day wondering why they would have treated me so badly. Sadly, this wasn’t the only time this had happened this week.
I spent most of my night feeling bad about this and then I thought about something. In all of the nights I had walked into bars by myself and endured the very same kind of treatment, it hadn’t had this kind of impact on me. Partly because I had decided that these people were not important enough for me to worry about and partly because I drank heavily to numb that pain. It might well have hurt me, but I wouldn’t have known it then. I thought back to the times when I thought I felt left out or hurt over the way people had treated me and I figured out one thing; it doesn’t matter. God put me in that room for a reason. Maybe He wanted to see if I would reach out to someone. Maybe He wanted me to realize that even people who are trying to be good make mistakes. Maybe He wanted me to see how much happier I am than the women I was sitting with yesterday. When I reflected on what I had seen and heard there, for all of their talk, their smiles had seemed feeble and forced and their conversation had seemed quite difficult for them. The abrupt pauses and the awkward silences. Maybe it was a good thing I hadn’t jumped in. Talk about deep water.
I guess if I have a point here, it would be that sometimes things don’t feel right. Sometimes, the people we are with or around just don’t get us and don’t necessarily want to. Sometimes, they are so wrapped up in themselves that they just keep swimming and don’t look up for that life raft that God is sending them. And so, in between gulping the saltwater and taking a breath, they don’t really have time to make us feel safe and comfortable. My analogies may be somewhat scrambled here, but I do believe that God will lift you up if you reach out to Him and tell him you’re just tired of swimming. In any case, don’t give up the fight. He’s there.