Years ago, when my husband and I were first dating, we served together in Young Life ministering to high school students. We were part of a team leading small group Bible studies and larger meetings called club. I can vividly remember the day I was planning to speak at club for the first time. I had prepared but I was very nervous. My husband (at the time boyfriend) was trying to help keep me calm, praying and playing worship songs with me. As we sat together, I realized that I was so focused on myself when I needed to be focused on God. I tried to sing my favorite worship songs but realized that all of them brought my focus back to me instead of onto Him.
- “I could sing of Your love forever”
- “Light the Fire in my weary soul”
- “Who do you say that I am? Who do you say is the Son of Man?”
- “Amazing Grace; How sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me“
I started singing a song with the names of God “Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God…” but even that ended up bringing focus back to me with “we adore You.” But this wasn’t what I needed. I needed so much to get out of my own head and focus on Him. As Psalm 46:10 says, I needed to “Be still and know He is God.”
Matthew 7:3-5 points out the importance of examining yourself so that you can see clearly.
Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.
I think some people avoid this sort of self-examination while others can get stuck there. I could be a poster child for the latter. I dig tunnels and secret passageways in my mind so deep that I can’t find my way back out. I don’t mean to get stuck there but often do if I’m not careful.
In the Psalms, we often see both this self examination and the shifting of focus onto God. Psalm 22 shows us an example of David expressing his pain, seemingly trying to understand it, but then turning to look at the God of the universe who he knows He can trust. David starts “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” and then turns to remember who God is “In you our ancestors put their trust; they trusted and you delivered them.” He does this repeatedly throughout this Psalm and in many others.
Tonight as I type this, I feel the familiar feeling of becoming stuck, of digging tunnels too far inside that I can’t see out. And so instead, I pray with Psalm 121:
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.