Sunday, October 16, 2016, 4:12 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “You Raise Me Up.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 51:1-17 (ESV).
Have Mercy (vv. 1-6)
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.
Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin!
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you may be justified in your words
and blameless in your judgment.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
and in sin did my mother conceive me.
Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.
In February of this year, the Lord called me to move with my husband to a new location, and to leave our children and grandchildren (all 21 of them) behind, in order that I might follow the Lord where he was leading me. I knew God had a purpose for this move, and that he wanted to use me here for his glory. When he called me to go with him here, he gave me a promise of a spiritual harvest of righteousness (See: 2 Corinthians 9:10-11). And, I trusted him to bring that about in his good timing.
One of the things he was speaking to me about at that time was letting go of the things of this world (including worldly possessions). So, before we moved, we downsized our stuff to half of what we had had before, and we took with us only what we believed were the essentials for setting up housekeeping in our new location. But, I am convinced now that we could certainly get rid of a whole lot more, and what is convincing me of that I will share with you in just a few minutes.
After we moved here, the Lord, I believe, opened up the opportunity for me to lead a Bible study here in our apartment building. So far, we have met for 18 weeks. We have been studying the book of John. He also gave me new friends and fellowship, which I had been lacking for many years, so that was surely a blessing from above. As well, he led me to continue writing out what he teaches me from his Word each day, and to post it on the internet, but now that I was spending more time with people face-to-face, the writing was not nearly as often as it had been before we moved here.
I was enjoying my new surroundings very much, so much that I was getting too comfortable here, and I was beginning to get somewhat lazy about God’s calling on my life. I was loving sleep more than my times with God, i.e. for me to do what God has called me to do I must be available to him 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but there were times when he woke me and all I wanted to do was go back to sleep. I was also beginning to become somewhat materialistic again, and to be concerned over things that are just going to pass away. I was also beginning to worry about some stuff, rather than fully putting my trust in the Lord, resting in him for all things in my life, trusting that he had allowed them in my life, and for a purpose, and thanking him even for the difficulties which he was bringing into my life.
The Lord was speaking to me regularly on the subject of getting caught up in or holding on to things that have no eternal value whatsoever, so I regularly was reexamining my priorities, and asking him to show me how this is all supposed to work in my new surroundings. He kept putting songs in my head, such as “I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold. I’d rather be his than have riches untold.” But, even in this process I was losing my focus on his calling on my life, and my priorities, and his purpose in bringing me here. I think I was finding more joy in my new surroundings, than I was finding in him, and sometimes my times with him were more routine than they were from the abundance of love from my heart toward him.
Purge Me (vv. 7-12)
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right spirit within me.
Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.
So, the Lord gave me bed bugs to get my attention. That is the trial I have been going through lately, and which has inspired many of the messages the Lord has given me to share, of late. I never thought I would ever get bed bugs, because I had been taught that was a problem confined to people who live in filth. But, I was wrong. Anyone can get them, no matter how clean you are, especially if you live in a high rise apartment complex like we do now, and they can easily be passed from apartment to apartment.
I used to say what is supposed to be a cute saying to my grandkids, “And, don’t let the bedbugs bite,” but I had no idea what it really means to have bed bugs bite you. I do now! And, it is not pleasant, especially when they are crawling on you and biting you when you are still awake, or when they lay eggs in your hair, and a nymph hatches and it drives its pinchers into the back of your neck, and your husband has to remove it with tweezers. And, then you have to cut your hair short just so your scalp can be regularly examined for bed bug eggs, and the bites swell up and sting, burn and itch for weeks before they begin to heal. I empathize now with Job (in the Bible).
Bed bugs can also be in your sofa, chairs, bed, dressers, clothing, hair, carpet, closets, and bedding, and they are so tiny and are very good hiders, so it is very difficult to get rid of them. An exterminator is supposed to come out this Thursday to treat for them. We have found several and have killed them ourselves. I believe the Lord has helped us to find them and to kill them, but I don’t know if they are gone yet, and so we have not been using our living room for over a week now, not out of fear, but out of good sense to not add more misery to what we have already been going through.
When the bed bugs came, along with all the bites, I cried out my pain to the Lord, and he began opening up my eyes to see what I have been sharing with you today. So, I confessed my sins to him, and I asked for his cleansing in my life, and for him to make me who he wants me to be. He has had so many different songs going through my mind which are all about trials. One of the ones that has been there the most is “I Am Willing, Lord,” by Joni Eareckson Tada. So, I sang the words back to him in prayer, asking that he would show me any sins, that I may confess them to him, and that he truly would make me to be who he wants me to be: “Feeling so sorry for me, not knowing that all the while you’re working to see if, when I’m put through the fire, I’ll come out shining like gold…”
He’s been teaching me much these days about resting in him, too, and not fearing the bed bugs, knowing that if I am on his shoulders that they have to go through him to get to me, but that he is going to carry me through this.
Then I Will Teach (vv. 13-17)
Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
and sinners will return to you.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it;
you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
God allows us to go through difficulties like this sometimes because we need some divine correction in order to get us back on track and refocused and to purge us, refine us, purify us and to prune us to make us more like Jesus. But, when we come through the fiery trials, having learned from him what he wants to teach us, then we can teach others the lessons we learned from him, and we can comfort them in their trials with the comfort we received from the Lord in our trials (See: 2 Co. 1:1-11).
Oh, one of the things God purged out of my life through this trial is that I don’t care anymore about all the “stuff” we have, i.e. furniture, etc., but I know daily, when this trial has passed, which I hope it has, I must continually give these things over to the Lord so that I don’t lose my focus again and have my mind set on the things of this world which are going to soon pass away. There is just something about having bed bugs in all your furniture that makes you not love that furniture any more, you know? It definitely has a way of putting things in the proper perspective. I would not wish these bugs on my worst enemy, not that I am at enmity with anyone, but I am certain that there are those who truly hate me.
I don’t know yet if I have learned everything the Lord wanted me to learn through this trial, and I am not certain, yet, where I am to go from here, and what all needs to be altered or changed with regard to what all he has me involved in each day, but I do know that I have confessed my sin, as far as I am aware, and that I am now resting in him instead of striving and fretting, and I am giving him thanks for everything he brings into my life, because I know it has been for my good, to make me more like Jesus.
YOU RAISE ME UP / Brendan Graham / Rolf Lovland
You raise me up, so I can stand on mountains
You raise me up, to walk on stormy seas
I am strong, when I am on your shoulders
You raise me up to more than I can be.