Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Cry for Help - Take Two

I recently wrote how I'd discovered years ago in Psalm 50 that God considers a cry for help as praise:  "Calling for help is part of the banquet of praise - the banquet of praise that He longs for, the banquet of praise that makes the "acts of worship" complete. A simple cry for help completes the shout of praise. A simple cry for help that demonstrates our faith, our trust, our dependence...." (See full blog at

I thought I got it.  I mean, I wrote it, right?  But oh don't you love it when your own words come back at you....  

Not long after I wrote those words I discovered that a friend whom I had stood by in times of struggle had been facing those same struggles again... but this time without telling me.  Alone, without support, struggling had turned to falling.  As I looked at the surrounding devastation, I could only wonder why my friend hadn't confided in me.  Why go it alone when help and support were available?  I would have supported... loved...  helped in any way possible.  I had proven all that before, so why wasn't I trusted this time?  Why didn't my friend come to me? Why didn't my friend trust me enough to believe I would be there to help and not condemn?  The lack of confidence and trust stung.  It even triggered some anger within me.  Just what did I have to do to prove I would be there for my friend?  And then... it hit me:  Psalm 50. 

When I try to pull myself up by my own bootstraps and handle life on my own...  I'm doing the same thing to God that my friend did to me.  I'm shutting Him out when He's proven over and over again that He's there for me. And as much as it stung to discover my friend's choice to go it alone... how much more must my tendency to go it alone break my Father's heart?  Ouch.   

A few days later, though, I discovered God wasn't quite through using my own blog against me.... LOL.

Truth is... I hide.  And... I try to handle life on my own.  Not just with God. I can do it with those around me as well.  It doesn't even have to be "big" stuff.  For example:

When my husband has to work late and I find myself jealous for his time, I tend to try to handle it on my own.  I talk myself out of the hurt, telling myself that he's being a good provider (he is!); that he has no choice (he doesn't); that I should be glad he has a job (I am).  I tell myself that it's not fair of me to feel the way I do, and he doesn't need any more stress, so I need to "handle" it on my own (by pretending everything is fine and swallowing the hurt).  But, as my psychologist pointed out to me this week with something else, hiding isn't really handling.  So... (thinking on my own now)... what if... instead of "handling" it on my own... I admitted to my husband how much I missed him?  Not accusing; not angry; just simply admitting that I am struggling?  What would that say to him?  Wow.  I usually look at it from my own perspective of "I know I shouldn't be feeling this way.  My feelings are just wrong." and so I try to talk myself out of it... keep it hidden.  Let me just admit right here and now that I hate to be wrong in any way, especially in front of people -- thus my tendency to hide and handle it on my own.  Looking at it from my husband's perspective, though... if I stopped hiding... if I were open with him about my struggle...  It would not only communicate the desire I have for him (which has to feel good to any guy!)... but it would also show that I trust him with my feelings even when I know they aren't fair.  I trust him enough to share the "ugly" parts of me... to let him in to the areas where I know I'm wrong.  I trust him enough to let him help me.  And when I let my husband in to be the knight-in-shining-armor that every guy longs to be... that has to feel a lot like praise.  And when I don't?  Sigh....  

Those same feelings/questions I felt as I discovered my friend's silent struggle?  I send to my husband and my God every time I'm not honest about what I'm feeling or what I'm struggling with.  That's why a cry for help completes the banquet of praise... that's why my God (and my husband) long for me to quit hiding; to quit trying to handle it on my own; and to just trust them enough to let them in to help.  That's why... every time I don't... I break my Father's heart.

Guess I've got some work to do....


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Cry for Help

I originally wrote the following over a decade ago.  Yesterday, listening to Amy Grant's song, "Better than a Hallelujah" brought it back to mind.  As I remembered how I'd discovered the truth of that song in the words of Psalm 50, I realized I wanted to share it here, as it was written then:

It was one of those nights where I realized just how long it'd been.... It wasn't guilt. No, it was an even more powerful emotion that drove me to my knees: the realization of just how much I missed Him. I missed having Him close enough that I could hear Him constantly direct my paths - to the point of avoiding traffic jams I didn't even know where there! I missed having Him close enough that I would talk to Him without a moment's thought. I remembered those times as so sweet... I just... missed Him. And I knew who had moved... but I had no idea how I'd moved so far. So I knelt on the floor, my eyes traveling over the stacks of books I'd made as I'd worked on cleaning up the bedroom earlier in the day. My eyes wandered to the Message version of the prophets - the one I'd been working my way through before I somehow let my life get to the point that the quiet times entirely disappeared. I wasn't even sure where I was in that book anymore. It just didn't "feel right" for tonight anyway. I glanced at the New Testament, then at the new copy of the Message version of the Books of Moses that I hadn't even opened yet. Finally I picked up the most ragged one there - the Old Testament Wisdom books. And, doing something I don't often do, I trusted God to direct me and just opened the book. Somewhere in the midst of those pages were the words I needed to hear, and He was going to have to guide me to them. It opened to Psalm 50....

The Psalm begins to paint a picture of a powerful God, blazing into view with fireworks announcing his arrival. But my heart longs for more than just acknowledgement of an all-powerful, magnificent God....

"He summons heaven and earth as a jury, 
he's taking his people to court."

Sigh. I wanted closeness, not an account of what all Israel did wrong.... I wanted arms wrapped around me, drawing me in, not a judgment....

"Are you listening, dear people? I'm getting ready to speak; 
Israel, I'm about ready to bring you to trial."

Okay. I know I deserve this. I've left Him behind, not entirely unlike Israel. But reading the account of how I messed up just really wasn't what I had in mind for tonight....

"I don't find fault with your acts of worship,
the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer."

Well, that's nice to know. Glad to know I haven't messed up everything. Actually, I'm surprised by the words. I seem to remember judgment against Israel's worship and we're talking trial here.... So somehow I sense a huge "but" coming... I turn the page....

"But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull, 
or more and more goats from your herds?"

Uh huh. I knew it.

"...If I get hungry, do you think I'd tell you? 
All creation and its bounty are mine." 

Sigh. Yeah, I know... but somehow I keep losing track of that. And as I read through this passage I'm reminded again of just how much effort I've put into doing the "stuff" for God while totally ignoring Him in the process. All the effort, the works, the "acts of worship..." doing so much for Him, and so little with Him. I know it's not that the things I'm doing are wrong ("I don't find fault with your acts of worship") but I've let an important part of it disappear. He doesn't need my "acts," He desires my presence. My eyes are blurred with the beginning of tears as I move on to the next section....

"Spread for me a banquet of praise, 
serve High God with a feast of kept promises,"

Sigh. The gathered tears now start to spill as I acknowledge that piece that's been missing. Personal Praise. It doesn't matter what I do for Him if I'm not doing it with Him. If I'm not taking that time for personal praise and to develop my relationship with Him then the "acts of worship" are incomplete. But it's been so long... I... sigh....

"And call for help when you're in trouble- 
I'll help you, and you'll honor me."

I sit in stunned surprise. As many times as I've read through the Psalms it's never hit me before. These two thoughts, "spread for me a banquet of praise" and "call for help," are NOT two thoughts. There is an "and" there, not a period! They are part of one sentence, one thought. Calling for help is part of the banquet of praise - the banquet of praise that He longs for, the banquet of praise that makes the "acts of worship" complete. A simple cry for help completes the shout of praise. A simple cry for help that demonstrates our faith, our trust, our dependence....

And I wonder at the love of a God whom in the midst of rejection by His people cries out "I don't need you to do anything for me. I just want you. Your call for help is my praise. That is the worship I desire."

And so, in awe of a God of so much love, my own (stubbornly independent) heart forms the simple prayer, "Help me to see when I'm in trouble, Father."

And I fall asleep in His arms.