There was a time (not that long ago) that this Psalm left me in fear, trembling, and conviction:
Declare me innocent, O Lord , for I have acted with integrity;
I have trusted in the Lord without wavering.
Put me on trial, Lord , and cross-examine me.
Test my motives and my heart.
For I am always aware of your unfailing love,
and I have lived according to your truth.
I do not spend time with liars or go along with hypocrites.
I hate the gatherings of those who do evil,
and I refuse to join in with the wicked.
I wash my hands to declare my innocence.
I come to your altar, O Lord ,
singing a song of thanksgiving
and telling of all your wonders.
I love your sanctuary, Lord ,
the place where your glorious presence dwells.
Don’t let me suffer the fate of sinners.
Don’t condemn me along with murderers.
Their hands are dirty with evil schemes,
and they constantly take bribes.
But I am not like that;
I live with integrity.
So redeem me and show me mercy.
Now I stand on solid ground, and I will publicly praise the Lord .
Psalms 26:1-12 NLT
And on one level, I miss that deep conviction of reading this Psalm that had me in tears at the foot of the cross, recounting the long list of my failings – because it was emotional, it was moving and powerful and provided a clear direction of what correction needed to take place in my life.
But on another level, as I have decided to follow in His footsteps, and to walk in the Holy Spirit, it is now encouraging when reading this Psalm that I can edifice the growth and change in my life – but that also produces a new type of fearful humility, in my hoping that I am not walking in pride, blind to my sinfulness just because it is the type that is better at hiding in the shadows of my still imperfect heart.
But there is no question that there is a change, a process, a movement in the direction of God, away from wickedness, away from self serving actions, away from those old desires and motivations. And I am not proud of what progress has already been made. It isn’t some type of tall tower that I stand on grateful for how close to heaven I am coming.
No, I will be honest with you, friend – it fears me how far I have to fall, because this is no tower that I have built under my own power. Today’s growth and change is as new to me as yesterday’s was. And I can’t rely on the evidence of my past, whether blameless primarily from great forgiveness and mercy and grace, or primarily from faithfully walking close to the Lord. Because I am relying on the Lord for all of it.
And it is this perspective that brings me down from what I thought was the edge of a tall tower, and shows me that my place is not on a tower, but on solid ground. I am no higher than I ever was, I am just still walking along the narrow path. That false perspective of higher or lower was just a lie of the enemy, and was pride, judgement, and shame hiding in the shadows waiting to devour me.
And this path I will walk to the end, knowing that I can crush the head of those enemies that used to control and burden me. Run from His wrath, evil and wickedness – it is not me that you should fear, but the Lord who walks with me. Your time is short, your destruction is near.
Thank you, Lord, for clearing my path. Thank you, Lord, for shining your light upon my path. Thank you, Lord, for setting me on the firm foundation, establishing my direction, and guiding my steps. Thank you for preparing me with the cleansing blood of your righteousness, feeding me with the nourishing manna of your Word, equipping me with the full armor of God, and leading me along this path where you have won the victory. Let me continue resting on your peace and renewing my strength as I wait on you, Lord – even as we walk together along this narrow path and do not grow weary.
Thank you, Jesus. I’m so grateful that I can trust in you to see me through to the end. Thank you for allowing me to read this Psalm with a bold humility and gratitude for your work still alive and growing in me. I still have hope.