I know why the Psalms are so popular: The writers were just like us. They knew all the ups and downs of faith and trust. They often felt weak and tired and overwhelmed. They lived times of great joy and praise, and they were occasionally swamped with anger and desire for revenge. Sometimes they were certain of God’s love and care, and sometimes they wondered if God had forgotten them. They stumbled and sinned horribly. They were broken and contrite and longed to come back to God.
Psalm 18 is quite a read. It starts out,
I love you, LORD; you are my strength.
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my Savior;
my God is my rock, in whom I find protection.
He is my shield, the power that saves me,
and my place of safety.
I called on the LORD …
and he saved me from my enemies.
The next sixteen verses give a description of the Lord thundering from heaven to rescue one who was entangled by the cords of death, caught in a deadly trap, overwhelmed by floods of destruction. It’s no wonder the writer starts his psalm by saying the Lord is his strength, his rock, his protection, his shield.
But what about the days YOU feel entangled in the cords of death and overwhelmed by floods? What about the times you long for his strength but you can’t seem to find your way to his fortress and you are completely out of touch with his power? What do you do when it feels as though God is too busy to come charging out of the heavens to aid you?
I am certain of one thing:
You, O LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
The only thing to do in such times is rattle the latch.
A friend gave me a Christmas gift, a squat, ceramic lighthouse, blue and white, holding a small candle inside. Hand-painted letters wobbled along the bottom edge proclaiming, “God’s Love Lights Our Way.”
I set it on the sill above the kitchen sink and felt warmed by the brave little flame that danced against dark winter evenings outside the window.
Then one night as I washed dishes, I read those wobbly words and wondered, “What in the world does that mean? It sounds great, but what does it mean?”
Instantly, unexpectedly, I was a five-year-old on a dark night.
We lived in a tiny four-room cottage just below my grandparents’ big farmhouse on the hill. Our sidewalk led to the base of their house, where a door opened into storage space under a long porch; then a second door led to a windowless cellar. From the cellar, we climbed a flight of stairs to Grandma’s kitchen. The front door was on the other side of the house, so going through the cellar was the most direct route to Grandma’s.
The big house was only steps away from ours; but when I traveled the path alone at night, it was a nervous journey through the darkness. I’d take a quick dash down the sidewalk, eluding unknowns waiting to pounce from the shadows, running for the safety of under-the-porch.
Then I’d stop at the threshold of the black cellar. The old planked door had an iron latch, and I stood there and clattered that latch— up-and-down, up-and-down, up-and-down— until an unseen hand above turned on the light that showed me the way to the stairs and Grandma’s safe kitchen.
Yes, God’s love does light my way. Running through this world’s darkness with its truly scary shadows and lurking unknowns, I often stand and clatter the latch, longing to know God’s presence in my life, hungry for His words to me, needing to hear the voice that loves me.
So many times, the only thing I can do is rattle the latch.
And the wonderful thing is … His light comes on.
Scripture: Psalm 18:1-3 (NLT), Psalm 18:28 (NIV)