Yesterday was a rough day.
I guess if I admit it, many days over the last month or so have been pretty rough. I’m sure everyone around me knows that. One of the things God has been trying to convict me of for a while is complaining. Unfortunately, it’s a pretty big job. Thankfully, He is a pretty big God.
I think I’ve stated before that I spend a lot of time in the book of Psalms. I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I have a few favorite Psalms that I turn to again and again. It seems no matter the source of the pain, there are some Psalms that tend to just bring a measure of peace to my soul. Today I opened my Bible to that trusted book and began reading the worn pages there. I came to Psalm 25. This Psalm, especially, brings my soul to quietness and reflection. I’m convinced that part of the reason for that effect is because the first several verses were put into a song by a summer intern pastor of the church I attended as a junior high school student. Each summer our church loaded two buses and drove from western New York to a small town in Ohio for a week of summer camp. That is where I learned this Psalm put to song. I have read this passage countless times–enough to almost have it memorized. Today though, a certain verse jumped off the page at me. It reads:
“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for only he will release my feet from the snare.” (Ps. 25:15)
I re-read those words a few times…release my feet from the snare…release my feet from the snare…
Have you ever watched a fly right after he flies into a spider web? The fly, desperate to be free from his predator, struggles to spread his wings and fly to safety. The problem, of course, is the web from the spider is sticky. That is how God created the spider in order to insure his survival. The web of the spider is designed to attract prey in order to provide him with food. The fly, of course, doesn’t see the web. If he did, he would certainly fly around or over or under it. The fly wouldn’t knowingly fly into the trap of his predator; it just happens. As the fly realizes he is suddenly unable to move his wings, he fights with all he has for his freedom. It is no use though. The more the fly tries to free himself, the more tangled he becomes in the web.
The last several weeks I have felt like a fly caught in the spider’s web. Sometimes I have been going about my business and BAM! Next thing I know I’m caught in a sticky mess. Other times, I’ve sensed a sticky web but figure that it’s just a web made of string. I figure getting out of s clutches can’t be all that hard. I may make a weak attempt to avoid it, but do not take its threat very seriously. (For me, this mainly comes in the form of putting myself in a place where I know my emotions will be affected, i.e. Facebook) Regardless of the circumstances that actually landed me in the web of my predator, getting out is usually my number one aim. The problem is, just like the fly caught in the spider’s web, the more I try to free myself, the more entangled I get. Soon, I find that even though I have exhausted every ounce of energy in my body, I am still stuck and, even worse, I give up and try to accept the fact that my predator has won. His web–his snare–has proven to be much more powerful than my strength and I hang my head in defeat and wait for the attack to be over.
Is the scenario above inevitable? It has played out so many times in my life that it would seem to be the case. The pattern is predictable: walking along the best I can, hit a snare, struggle to break free, exhaust all physical and emotional strength, give up, wait until my predator has his way with me, walk away in shame after being released, start over again by walking along the best I can…
“My eyes are ever on the Lord, for ONLY HE will release my feet from the snare.”
Like an arrow shot out of a high powered bow, those words hit and pierced my heart. The truth is, I can’t fight my way out of the predator’s web. In my own strength, I’m no match for the snare he lays. The Israelites thought that David, the shepherd boy, was toast as he stepped up to face the giant Goliath, and on his own, he certainly would have been. But, David knew he was not fighting the battle alone. He knew that someone much bigger and more powerful than Goliath was fighting with him, so David boldly stepped up when no one else dared to do so, and Israel was saved. To try on my own to break free from the sharp teeth of the traps set for me only causes more pain and results in my feeling defeated. It is only with the power of the One who saved me, the One who loves me, the One who promises to never leave or forsake me, that I can be set free from the snare of the enemy. This enemy presents in different forms. Some days it shows up in the form of depression and/or discouragement. Some days it shows up in the form of physical pain. Many days it shows up as both. Some days the weight of the snare and the exhaustion of attempting to break free combine and make me feel as though I am being crushed. It seems the last several weeks have held many such days.
As I meditated on the words of the Psalmist, my heart was broken, for you see, I knew I was guilty of something critical to the process of being released from the snare. The Psalmist started the verse with the declaration that “his eyes are ever on the Lord”. My eyes? More often than not, they are on the snare. Depression, pain, and negative emotions and feelings fill my vision. How can I possibly have my eyes on the Lord and on the snare at the same time? I can’t; it isn’t possible. One of the things I taught our kids as they were learning to drive is to keep your eyes and your mind focused on driving–the road, your speed, your mirrors. If you turn your eyes to your phone or the radio station controls, you are more likely to get in an accident. I need to follow my own advice in the emotional arena.
In my own power, I am toast against the snares of depression, negativity, pain, and discouragement. But, the promise that I don’t have to face the snare alone is real. I have the power of God available to me, and that power is greater than any power found in the world…including the power found in the snares that entangle my feet. I know there will be bad days. We live in a world that is full of trouble and pain and all kinds of snares. It is a choice, though, as to where I put my eyes. If I stare intently at the snare, surely I will just become more entangled, but, if I stare intently on the One who has the power over all things, then I can rest in the assurance that He does see and only He has the power to release my feet from the snares.