I recently made an error in judgement and was feeling sick to my stomach over a decision. You know how it feels when you’ve eaten bad seafood? The queasiness and the churning? It was escalating toward that.
As I played back the events in my memory, it became clear my vision had been clouded. I didn’t intentionally make an unwise decision. It felt like it made sense at the time, but the passage of more time and hindsight were slowly bringing clarity.
I like to think of hindsight personified as a kind, forgiving uncle or grandfather. He waits silently and patiently until I can see him, and then he smiles and pulls out a chair for me to take a seat beside him. As we sit down, I start to see the truth even before he speaks. As my eyes brim with tears of regret, his eyes glisten too, out of compassion.
Around the time I was processing my exchange with hindsight, I found myself reading Psalm 31. The author is crying out for help in a desperate state. He feels like he fell into a trap and is greatly distressed. As I read his words, I was thinking, I know a little bit how you feel.
Granted, I’m not hiding in Middle Eastern caves and stepping in traps set by ancient warriors. My trap was unintentionally set by none other than yours truly, but, to some small degree, I felt like I could relate.
As I commiserated with the Psalmist and echoed his cries for assistance from God, I stopped suddenly when my eyes fell on verse 16. In the Message paraphrase version it says, “Warm me, your servant, with a smile; save me because you love me.”
Those four words - because you love me - made my chin start to quiver. The Psalmist’s life was in danger, and he was asking for God’s help not only because God was powerful and capable, but because he knew God loved him.
The Psalmist had the presence of heart and awareness of relationship to appeal to the love of God as he pled for rescue. I find that beautiful, bold, and to be truthful, not easy to do.
Let me count the reasons
How many times have I come up with long lists of reasons for God to intervene on my behalf? Plenty, to be sure. How many times has His love for me been on that list? I’m not sure I can answer that, which leads me to think very few, if at all.
My reasons tend to appeal to God’s power, grace, and mercy, and rightly so, but they stop short of addressing His heart, and mine.
Many of the cries for help in the Psalms are bold and raw, and they’re followed by such confident declarations that God will show up. Sometimes, I’m tempted to scoff a bit and think, “Well that was awfully resolute. Are you sure? Don’t you want to hedge your bets even a little?”
But on this occasion, I was seeing it differently. I was less a scoffer and more of an audacious pleader and a work-in-progress-proclaimer.
I heard myself say, “Save me because you love me.” I know God loves me, but to list that as a reason for Him to help me was a little uncomfortable.
The words came out of my mouth again, “Save me because you love me.” It still felt somewhat presumptuous.
This went on for a while with a tad more courage each time. It was like a steadily growing drum beat, and before I knew it, the brashness of the Psalms were starting to make more sense.
I wasn’t sure what my saving in this situation would look like or whether my prayer would be answered in the specific way I asked. But, what I was sure of is that through prayer and Scripture, God’s reassurance of His love for me had taken away my fear and built my trust.
And that, all by itself, was a rescue.
I want to remember this and be bolder in my cries for help next time. And next time, as I make my plea, love will be on my list. After all, wasn’t love the leading item on God’s list?
John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” ESV
John 3:16 “This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in Him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life.” The Message paraphrase
How easy or difficult is it to remember that God loves you? What helps you remember?
Psalm 86:15 “But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.” ESV
Psalm 86:15 “But you, O God, are both tender and kind, not easily angered, immense in love, and you never, never quit.” MSG