Incline your ear, Lord, for I am poor and needy. Be gracious to me, for to you I cry all day long.
Especially lately, I am poor and needy.
In one sense, it’s a beautifully freeing place to be, living with open-handed trust, to surrendering the lifestyle of always making things happen or producing or meeting needs. God is all-sufficient, I am not. He is all-powerful, I am not. He is limitless, I have many limits. In my weakness, He lends His strength. I don’t have to be or have enough all the time, for myself or others around me. He is. Hallelujah.
Preserve my life… you are my God…. Gladden my soul… I lift it up to you.
In another sense, it’s an unpleasant way to be. Earlier this year I was given a long-awaited diagnosis by a neurosurgeon for a neck injury I’ve been dealing with since 2015. Major disc generation. Bone spur. Spinal stenosis. Low fluid. Cervical facet syndrome. No more running. Nerve pain. The only solution would be surgery and we won’t do that. Over the years that initial injury has bloomed into daily chronic pain in my arms and especially my hands. Aching. Throbbing. Fatigue. Some days I’m so discouraged I could cry. Other days I walk in Holy-Spirit-given acceptance and look for God in ways I never would if I wasn’t uncomfortable.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours… You alone are God.
In another sense, it’s a clarifying position to be in. The world sends messages of perfection and control and worry and indulgence and wealth and hurry. God’s Kingdom radiates messages of humility and generosity and surrender and faith and discipline and simplicity. I’m a citizen of the latter, on a journey through the former. I am poor and needy, and what I need most is God. Not praise from others, or a platform, or good performance, not even utmost pleasure in created things.
After months of numbing and distracting myself from my physical discomfort or extra-taxing day, with shopping or food or entertainment or busyness, I admit to God: if I am to choose You over the world’s offerings, choose You over indulging my discontentment or laziness, choose You over the way of others, choose You over comfort and control, choose You over my flesh, can you be the realest You’ve ever been with me?
To believe He is better than Netflix or coffee or being pain-free or pleasing everyone I needed our life together to be more. Have you ever been in a place like this? Prayers like, “God, I receive this circumstance because You allow it, but the only way I’m going to flourish, or survive, is if we’re close.”
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds. (Psalm 73:26,28)
I have a life with John, my husband, and it’s amazing. He cheers and comforts me. He laughs and cries with me. He sits in silence with me. He counsels and solves problems with me. He listens when I ramble; he loves me well. God is with me all. the. time. Not in physical form but with me nonetheless. And He’s infinitely and perfectly loving, joyful, good, strong, and wise, among so many other things. In our most uncomfortable moments, the pain is real, but so is God. Though we may not always ‘feel’ Him, He is available and accessible and wants us to share it all with Him.
Inviting God into sleepless nights, car rides, stressful situations, boring tasks and joyful moments as a REAL PERSON who may have something to say to me has recharged my faith. Treating Christ as my life has changed me. Trusting the presence of God already inside me and the Words He’s already given have become habits that keep me out of self, Satan and the world’s pit of quicksand.
I will never not be in-progress (#grace), but I know for sure: cultivating and prioritizing a real life with God, forms me to be poor, needy and rich in the ways that can make a difference for today and eternity.
Are you in a challenging season? Wrestling with a long-standing temptation? Bored in your faith? Maybe ask yourself what you are actually believing about God. Is He the God of the Bible or one fashioned by your experiences or doubts or lack of understanding? Have you given something or someone the place in your heart and mind that God wants to occupy? Are you feeling spiritually lethargic? If you want to talk about it (or anything!), leave a comment or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. :)
Your Presence is all I need
It’s all I want, all I seek
Without it, without it there’s no meaning
Your Presence is the air I breathe
The song I sing, the love I need
Without it, without it I’m not living