Psalm 16: A Remedy for Soul Weary Days

Are you tired? Are you worn out?

God’s guidance continues to challenge me to dismantle the influence of hustle culture on my life.  For decades I’ve been immersed in the need to do more, work harder, and keep going. My type A personality struggles to avoid the trap that hems me in on all sides with chaos of competing calls to never stop. I will never arrive or complete what is most essential according to the world. Choosing the narrow way, and daily exposure to God’s directive for time management realigns my priorities.

The second half of Psalm 16 gives special direction for finding a place of refuge that refuels me on my journey. The ever forward motion can cease when I pause and rest with God. (See last week’s blog post for the first half of Psalm 16 https://antheakotlan.com/2021/06/02/psalm-16-gods-prescription-for-rest/.)

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

When the dark of the night surrounds me it is easy to become disoriented and discouraged. How often has sleep been stolen by anxiety’s grip in the middle of the night, pulling back the covers and causing fears to loom larger? The worst dilemma is not facing a difficult decision, but it is actually the lack of clarity. In the night God will show up and give guidance. Perhaps it is in the night, when I finally get still, I can hear His voice above the hustle of this world.   

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

My rest is even found in celebrating in the security of my now and not yet. In a world full of anxiety and threats, I can rest assured in soul security found only in the Lord. I can know my eternal soul is safe forever in the company of God.

11 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

True soul tending rest delivers gladness and thankfulness. I know where I am going with God. He will never leave me or forsake me. He has revealed a way to live in His presence, and I can escape an exhausting cycle of second guessing, criticizing myself, and striving to do more and more. The joy found in the presence of God is soul sustaining for the ongoing journey of life this side of heaven.

Lord, teach me to take time away with you to restore my soul in the rest. I choose to listen to the faithful counsel of your word and sit with you and rejoice. All I need is right here with you. Amen.

How do you find rest?

On the Road with God

As a child, I seldom had the opportunity to go to church. Looking back, I remember I was always a bit of a seeker. I wanted to know more about God, but He truly seemed so inaccessible. I can remember lying in my bed waiting to pray. I became convinced that since God was so busy, and surely many other people were praying, perhaps I needed to wait for my turn. So, I lay there with my hands clasped waiting. More often than not, I fell asleep before I had a chance to pray.

A few years of frustration went by and then my mother told me prayers needed a postage stamp in order to get up to Heaven. This made sense to me because when I sent my grandparents airmail letters to England, they always required a special stamp. My mother explained the stamp I needed was not one I bought at the post office.  Instead, it was the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer, she said, must be prayed first before I launched into any of my own personal petitions. Initially, I was relieved to finally discover this handy prayer secret. However, as time went on my ability to remember perfectly every word of the Lord’s Prayer was iffy at best.  Eventually I gave up. I decided my prayers would not make it up to God after all.

As a teenager, I came to know Jesus as my personal savior and was so blessed to have a number of women disciple me. Many of them taught me about prayer and corrected some of my misunderstandings.

My youth pastor’s wife did an amazing job of demonstrating how to live as a Christ follower. One Saturday she invited me to tag along as she drove out to a local retreat center to deliver something to her husband. On the road, the conversation between us flowed easily, and when I expressed concern about something she suggested we pray together. Seconds later she began to talk to God.

“Lord, we thank you that we can pray to you right now about whatever is on our hearts. You know that Anthea is quite worried about her grades in math…”

She continued to pray. She must have sensed somehow my concern. “And Lord would you help Anthea know that we can pray here in the car without closing our eyes, because I’m driving, and we don’t even have to kneel…”

As she prayed, I watched how she simply chatted with the Lord as we drove along in her station wagon. This might be why my car has so often served me well as a prayer closet. What a relief it was to see that God did not expect me to wait my turn to pray, or to have a particular memorized prayer that would guarantee access to him. He’s available all the time, and conversational style prayer is quite acceptable to him. While it is not the only way to pray, it is a tool in my prayer kit that I still use on a daily basis.

Conversations with God on the road can be some of the very best ways to tend our souls. 

How about you? Do your prayers sound like conversations? Where do you like to pray?