Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pride or Peace?

I Have Calmed and Quieted My Soul

A Song of Ascents. Of David.

131:1 O Lord, my heart is not lifted up;
my eyes are not raised too high; (I have a humble heart.)
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvelous for me. (I have a simple heart.)
2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
like a weaned child is my soul within me. (I have a quiet heart.)

3 O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore. (I have a trusting heart.)

What a beautiful Psalm! It portrays a man who is blessed with inner peace, rather than being torn up with turmoil.

Our elder, Hugh, preached a sermon on Psalm 131 this past Sunday, and I have been pondering it since. I have to admit, I do have noise inside me. I get irritated, worried, frustrated and fearful. I want things to work (like the dishwasher that died, and the freezer that is more like a fridge). I want my family to understand me, and I want my home to be a haven of hospitality and beauty.

Hugh taught us that the biggest obstacle to inner peace is PRIDE. Self-will makes me the center of my universe. As soon as I feel angry, worried, fearful, etc., I need to examine my heart to discern where I am putting my trust.

David Powlison rewrote Psalm 131 to describe the opposite of a man who trusts in God. This is a man with a proud heart.

My heart is proud,
And my eyes are haughty (I look down on other people),
And I chase after things too great and too difficult for me.
So of course I’m noisy and restless inside;

It comes naturally,
Like a hungry infant fussing on his mother’s lap,
Like a hungry infant, I’m restless with my demands and worries.
I scatter my hopes onto anything and everything all the time.

If my heart is proud, I am not content. I look down on others, comparing myself with them. I worry about things that aren't in my control, instead of resting in the Lord. I worry about what others think, rather than concerning myself with what the Lord thinks.

Hugh brought out the point that even self-belittling tendencies are really expressions of pride. Instead of viewing ourselves as God views us, we want to be recognized, to get attention, to gain some measure of comfort or adoration from others. This is pride.

He quoted Charles Spurgeon, who said, "We're all proud by nature, though there is not one among us that has any reason to be proud. Every man thinks more of himself than God thinks."

We ought not to concern ourselves with great matters, because even the smallest things are beyond our control. I am not able to control anything. Everything I have, everything I am, is a gift of God.

David rested in the Lord, waiting on Him. It didn't matter that he had been anointed - he waited for God's timing to take the throne. He was satisfied with what the Lord had ordained for him, and he is the only man in the Bible called "a man after God's own heart."

We cannot achieve inner peace by trying harder. We try to climb the ladders of Appetite (control, ease, lust, goodies), Avoidance (ducking and running, avoiding rejection, fleeing from suffering), and Achievement (recognition, victory) but they fail to satisfy. We feel happy as we're climbing, but nervousness sets in. If we make no progress, we worry. If something gets in the way, we rage. If we're higher on the ladder than someone else, we are haughty. And when the ladder falls, we feel despair, bitterness, anger, or hurt.

The only answer is to Come to Jesus. Only He can replace the idols, and satisfy us. Apart from Him, there are only idols, and there is only pride. Without humbling ourselves before Almighty God, we are doomed to a life without inner peace, a life of climbing ladders of futility.

The only appropriate response is repentance.

O Lord, I confess that I have lifted up my heart and raised up my eyes. Forgive me, and give me a humble heart.

I have occupied myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. I have worried about money instead of trusting that You will provide. I have stressed out about my family instead of trusting that You will work in the hearts of those I love. Forgive me, and give me a simple heart.

I have fretted and planned and worried and resolved and tried again and again to order my world and make things in my life work, but all I have experienced has been frustration and sorrow. Teach me, O Lord, to quiet my soul. Teach me to recognize my pride. Teach me to be satisfied in You, and You alone, for You are a Beautiful God - full of Beauty, and abounding in grace.

Oh, Janet, hope in the Lord, from this time forth and forevermore. O Lord, You are the One in whom I trust. You are the One in whom I hope. There is none like you. You alone made the heavens, and You rule the universe. I cannot control one little thing, but I can put my trust in the One who controls all things.

Thou will keep in perfect peace, him whose mind is stayed on Thee. Amen.


Martha A. said...

That is really a good reminder! thank you for sharing!

MacCárthaigh Family said...

I've never read a prayer on a blog before... Profound and humble and beautiful...