Saturday, August 1, 2009

Psalm 23


David Powlison articulates the anguish we talk ourselves into when not abiding in Christ. It's the photographic negative of Psalm 23:

I'm on my own.
No one looks out for me or protects me.
I experience a continual sense of need.
Nothing's quite right.
I'm always restless.
I'm easily frustrated and often disappointed.
It's a jungle — I feel overwhelmed.
It's a desert — I'm thirsty.
My soul feels broken, twisted, and stuck.
I can't fix myself.
I stumble down some dark paths.
Still, I insist: I want to do what I want, when I want, how I want.
But life's confusing.
Why don't things ever really work out?
I'm haunted by emptiness and futility — shadows of death.
I fear the big hurt and final loss.
Death is waiting for me at the end of every road,
but I'd rather not think about that.
I spend my life protecting myself.
Bad things can happen.
I find no lasting comfort.
I'm alone . . . facing everything that could hurt me.
Are my friends really friends?
Other people use me for their own ends.
I can't really trust anyone.
No one has my back.
No one is really for me — except me.
And I'm so much all about ME, sometimes it's sickening.
I belong to no one except myself.
My cup is never quite full enough.
I'm left empty.
Disappointment follows me all the days of my life.
Will I just be obliterated into nothingness?
Will I be alone forever, homeless, free-falling into void?
Sartre said, "Hell is other people."
I have to add, "Hell is also myself."
It's a living death,
and then I die.

But here are the green pastures and still waters we can always run to, by faith, through the finished work of Christ on the cross:

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil.
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

HT: Justin Taylor.