There is a hymn that says these words, “Be still, my soul: the Lord is on thy side.
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain.” and as I heard it for the first time on Sunday, I was brought back to my years of struggling with my salvation. I often took great comfort in the book of Psalms during the hardest nights, when my anxiety would take over and fear would grip at my heart. Psalm 46 verse 10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” and I thought about that verse frequently. I would sit in my dark bedroom at odd hours of night; 1am, 4am, 6am, and I would read that Psalm and say it over and over. I’d get still and quiet, and beg God to give me some sort of assurance. He always delivered, but then I would back away from Him when the sun started shining through my curtains in the morning and the world was awake and ready to comfort me in its imperfect way. When things were bright, the sun was out and I was busy with life, I would forget about my doubts until something happened. Something would ruffle me up and remind me that I was standing on a foundation that was falling apart, and I was about to fall through the cracks. I would go to bed at night and the fears would jump back out at me. I’d wonder, if something were to happen while I slept, where would I be? This was not God’s fault. No, the only reason behind my struggles laid on me. I was neglecting God but even still…during my neglect, He comforted me. He allowed me to be surrounded by His grace and love when my fears were laying heavily on me. When I reached out my hands towards Him, He would take them. He had hope in me. He was on my side. I may have fallen away from Him days or even hours later, but He was always willing to take that step of faith towards me, giving me chance after chance. Squire Parsons, who visited my church over the weekend to sing and share testimonies, sang a song that he wrote titled He Came To Me, and I think of these words,
“The gulf that separated me from Christ, my Lord,
It was so vast the crossing I could never ford;
From where I was to His domain, it seemed so far;
I cried, “Dear Lord, I cannot come to where you are.”
“He came to me, O, He came to me.
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me.
That’s why He died on Calvary;
When I could not come to where He was, He came to me.
He came to me when I was bound in chains of sin,
He came to me when I possessed no hope within;
He picked me up and He drew me gently to His side,
Where, today, in His sweet love I now abide.”
It’s true; when we are not capable of coming to where He is, He is willing to stretch His hands out and lead us out on the water, just like He led Peter. The trick is, we have to keep our eyes on Him. Why did I backslide so often? Why did my fears and doubts not disappear the moment I asked Him for help the first time? Why did His comfort only last for a few hours, or a few days at best? It is because I ran away on my own. I went to Him in total fear and then when I thought the fear was gone and perhaps, I could go out on my own again, I would leave His safe arms and it would return. It is never safe to leave God’s arms. When we look away, take our hands out of His, leave His arms, we are facing the world with no defense. We have to have Him. We have to. If we want His comfort and assurance, we have to deny our flesh and take up our cross. We have to devote ourselves to prayer and devotion and Bible study, and it can not just be when the fears take over. We have to remember Him every day, no matter how we feel, because we always need Him. We truly do need Him every hour.
I am an extremely blunt person. I’m not one to mince words or keep the truth hidden. If you have followed this blog for very long, or are on my personal Facebook or Instagram, you will have no doubt realized this. I tend to focus on repentance/conviction/sin, perhaps because I have seen what sin has done in the lives of so many people that I love and cherish. I see the need for immediate repentance and the turning away from our sins, and I do not hesitate to post about it or tell others about their own need for Jesus’ cleansing blood because of what we have done in order to need a new birth in Him. But this has been both a blessing and a curse, for I find it hard to focus on grace, love and forgiveness. I am quite fond of old time preachers because of their sheer honesty and passion for the Gospel, and I love to hear fire and brimstone preaching in a pulpit. That said, we would be nowhere without grace and love from our Lord. Without that grace and love, repentance would be needless because there would be no reason to repent. I have been blessed beyond measure because God came to me when I was not yet ready to come to Him, and He was waiting for me and eager to forgive me and restore our broken relationship if only I would take up my cross completely. But I didn’t have the strength to do it on my own, and He offered His own time and time again. I had to swallow my pride and take His hand eventually, and realize that I could not go any further on my own. As a young woman shared on my Bible study group on Facebook, there is a time for rebuking and a time for rebuilding, a time for conviction and a time for comfort. Thank God that He is always ready to give us whatever we need at the time, wherever we’re at, and He is always willing to meet us where we are.