O LORD, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.
In humility, I have to confess there are far too many times where I have allowed my thoughts to drift away from gratitude for my Father's gifts to peevishness because I do not have things quite my way; far too many times that I have made that subtle mental shift from prayerful decision-making on how I should personally respond to unGodly cultural trends to fretful anxiety over the fact that these trends have wound tendrils into the very structure of the Church itself.
Let me state for the record that I understand that this infiltration of the world into the Church is a tremendous problem. It is definitely not something that I need to embrace or accept or even overlook. However, while it is a considerable problem, it is not necessarily my problem. I am absolutely called to be alert to it and to pray diligently for the Church, to stand firm against the schemes of the devil when they rise in attempt to thwart my walk or that of my children. However, I am not personally responsible for the response of entire congregations. It is not my exclusive duty to keep the world out of the Church, nor would I succeed in such an endeavor if I do not begin by first keeping the world out of my heart.
Here is epitomized the deadly subtlety of Satan's slippery schemes laid like mines along the Narrow Road: In looking at the encroachment of sin on one hand, I fall into a different sin by allowing acknowledgement of a problem to become agitation and distracting disquietude. It is a simple matter of focus, and quite simply my focus should be on the Lord and not the problems that eddy and swirl around me no matter how deep the water or strong the current. There will always be storms. He is ever and always the Master over the storms. Peering around me, I will never find rest. When I gaze upon His face, I am filled with peace for He is my Resting Place.
It is often difficult to navigate this modern climate, this increasingly darkening path, this great societal push to relabel sin as "choice" or "personality trait" or "lifestyle" or "inclination." and thus attempt to avoid facing it. It is impossible if the whole of my focus is not firmly on my God, the God Who provides light for the step I am taking without illuminating the whole path so I am ever reminded of my need to stay near Him; the God Who is always right at my shoulder whispering, "This is the way; walk in it," when there is a fork in the path. It is difficult, too, to fight the internal battle between my will to put on a charade of seeming Godliness that is all about appearances and His will to submit fully and without reserve to Him no matter what it looks like to others. I must remind myself constantly that changing the label will not change the nature of the thing. . . nor will it change the ultimate consequence.
I can call my worry "reasonable concern," or I can recognize it as fear and failure to trust that God is in control and repent. I can continue to excuse my harsh words to my children as a result of fatigue or pain, or I can accept responsibility for my wrongs and turn my grumbling into gratitude and praise, even despite my feelings. I can try to redirect attention from selfish motives by clothing them as pious and spiritual actions, or I can beg God's forgiveness for trampling His courts and admit that the outward appearance can not fix the decay within and bow myself in genuine contrition. I can gloss over my sin, or I can agree with God on what it is, leave it behind me, and turn to Him for refuge, forgiveness, and strength.
When I step back and look at it in those terms, it seems so childish of me to play pretend that such obvious offal is something elegant or appealing -- Like dressing up an orangutan as a dinner date! Neither one is a recipe for a peaceful, joyful time. Now that I've mulled it over, I think I'll keep my eyes lowered, my thoughts from pondering too long the ways of the world, and my heart fixed steadfastly on my great and merciful God. He is enough!
For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down. For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness. For by you I can run against a troop, and by my God I can leap over a wall. This God--his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him. For who is God, but the LORD? And who is a rock, except our God?-- the God who equipped me with strength and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights. He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great. You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.