Mercy – Psalms 116

Years ago I wrote a poem about the “edge” of death, literally, in my cancer journey. Psalm 116 has been a mainstay in my perspective and echos the Psalmist feelings as he peers over the edge and as I continue to cry out to the Lord..

I love the LORD, because he has heard
My voice and pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
Therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

I have a perspective on life I did not have before the cancer journey. Why he would be sparing me and not others, I don’t understand. It is pure mercy.

And because of that mercy, I know each day, each week, each month, each year is a gift for me to give back to him.

The snares of death emcompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the LORD:
“O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”

 Let me say, this journey has not been a walk in the park. I suffer physical pain, especially with each broken bone and/or surgery. And the emotional side of wondering if each holiday, each visit with family and friends, is difficult. It’s even harder with each sin, wrongdoing, that injures myself or others. So I call on the Lord to free my soul so that I can live rightly in the health and freedom he has given me for today. Because…

Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Our God is merciful.
When I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

I don’t know why I am here when so many others have gone before me. I can only believe it’s because of his mercy, his vision for my life. It’s certainly not because I deserve more than others, am more talented, am more valuable. I am the “simple” who has been brought low. And my rest, my only rest, is in him.

For you have delivered my soul from death, 
My eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I will walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

The chapter goes on, which may be for another day, but I can’t help but camp on the last statement as my mantra. Each time he gives me a new day, each time he delivers me from what is to come, from pain, from fear, I claim from him the strength to…

Walk before the LORD in the land of the living.

Today – Psalm 95

For he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture
and the sheep of his hand.

if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as at Meribah,
as on the at Massah in the wilderness. (7-8)

What a contrast! Sheep munching in pasture or hard hearts wandering in a wilderness.

We have a choice to make.

It’s not “if” he is God – he is God. We can claim science and believe theories, but that does not negate his existence. 

And it’s not “if” he is only the God of the universe – he is our God. He created us with a God awareness, a spirit, other animals do not have. He created us in his image.

And it’s not “if” we are the people of his pasture. He created earth, a beautiful pasture, for us to live in. It wasn’t our choice to be born on earth. He choose us and set us in an amazing location that fits our needs, our desires.

And it’s not “if” we are the his sheep, of his hand. He not only placed us here, but he holds us here. It’s so very personal. His hand guides, touches us, caresses us, protects us, is all around us.

The choice is “today.”

Today, how am I going to respond to his presence, to what he has given us, where he has placed us, is holding us in his personal and tender presence?

Today, if I hear his voice, how am I going to respond? When I see nature, the ruby red tomato on my tomato plant, am I going to take credit for its brilliance? Am I going to say it got here by evolution?

Today, am I going to harden my heart to the possibility that there is a God? Am I going to harden my heart and refuse to believe he is a personal God? 

The writer of Hebrews pondered the same questions of “Today,” repeating it 3 times (3:7, 15, 4:7). He wanted to make it clear that we have a choice on how we live. And if we don’t respond to all God is and gives to us, we will wander in our minds, hearts and spirits. We will not enter into the state of rest God desires for us.

I need rest from my own wanderings…