Rescue me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck Psalm 69
Humans have a tremendous capacity for compassion and cruelty. Humans have an amazing ability to justify our actions. Life would be great and perfect if not for that one person who is like nails on a chalkboard and whose voice causes your shoulders to tense so tightly they are sore for days. And because the church is made up of humans...all of the above are true.
In those moments when our words cause brokenness, when we decide to speak words that hurt, and when our tone because angry and judgment...even if we think we are justified...we introduce chaos into the ears, hearts, and whole lives of the person on the receiving end of what falls from the tips of our tongues.
In Psalm 69, the psalmist speaks of getting caught up in the undertow and sinking down into the slime of deep, dark place. Chaos is the beginning place of creation in Genesis 1, but Scripture never says that chaos is completely conquered by God's still speaking voice in Genesis 1. In fact, I sense that throughout Scripture chaos remains an undercurrent. Think of Exodus, the people live under the oppressive thumb of Pharaoh. Moses comes, eventually frees them, and life is grand...for about one week. Then, the people start grumbling about bread...God offers manna (the literal translation of that word is, "What is this??) No sooner are the People of God's stomachs full of bread...then they are thirsty. Seriously, was this what God had in mind when God crafted us as humans? If so, what was God thinking?
The Psalmist goes on to say that the chaos in her life is invoked by unprovoked foes that are more numerous than the hairs of her head...and you thought you had problems and enemies! Seriously, most of us only need one arch nemesis, unless we are a Superhero...then you need a couple just to keep the story line fresh. After all, how many times can Superman really defeat Lex Luther before it gets a little boring?
What is fascinating about Psalm 69 is the psalmist does not keep on complaining, but after naming the dire straits she is in, says honestly, "God, You know my folly and my guilt is not hidden from You." That is such a sacred line it stops me in my tracks. When someone is my enemy, I don't want to accept any culpability in the problem or relationship. I am not the one out of order, the enemy is out of order, the whole world is out of order. Anyone other than me is to blame...only the reality is I am just as broken and human as the one I call, "Adversary." Not that we like admitting our own stuff to ourselves, let alone aloud for others to hear! Yet, the Psalmist bravely, boldly goes there. Then...a few verses later the Psalmist proclaims, "Estranged I have been from my brothers, and an alien to my mother's sons." Suddenly the foe is not some distant, disinterested person...the foe is family! Think of the civil war. Think of Vietnam. Think of our current state of politics. When we disagree or are in tension with our family, it hurts...perhaps even more than when it is with an unrelated co-worker.
The psalmist goes on to plead with God to hurry and answer her with God's steadfast rescue.
So, what do you need rescue from? Where is there chaos right now in your life? Who is causing it? How might you be contributing to it? Those are not easy questions, they will cause our souls to shift uncomfortably within us. Yet, I sense that if we are still long enough in the face of chaos, often we find a trace of God's grace and the light of God's wisdom shining forth. May it be so for you in those places of tension and turmoil here and now in your life.