To Follow Jesus
My notes on Every Day with Jesus, written by Selwyn Hughes; revised and updated by Mick Brooks, published by CWR.
July/August 2015 Issue – Pursued by Grace, ‘I know that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love’ (Jonah 4:2)
The text set for today’s reading and meditation:
Psalm 88:1-18 (NIVUK):“Lord, you are the God who saves me; day and night I cry out to you.
May my prayer come before you; turn your ear to my cry. I am overwhelmed with troubles and my life draws near to death. I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am like one without strength.
I am set apart with the dead, like the slain who lie in the grave, whom you remember no more, who are cut off from your care. You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me; you have overwhelmed me with all your waves. You have taken from me my closest friends and have made me repulsive to them. I am confined and cannot escape; my eyes are dim with grief.
I call to you, Lord, every day; I spread out my hands to you. Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do their spirits rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in the place of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?
But I cry to you for help, Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you. Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.
All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me. You have taken from me friend and neighbour – darkness is my closest friend.”
You can feel the despair and suffering felt by the writer of this Psalm, I was particularly taken with the last verse, especially the phrase, ‘darkness is my closest friend’. It says a lot in just a few words.
Selwyn starts today’s study as follows: “Confined in the large fish’s stomach, Jonah became a different man. In confinement, I believe, God does some of His greatest work. Have you ever found yourself in a situation that you can’t move one way or the other and you give yourself to God?
Why does God put us in such a situation? This is sometimes the only way that He can get our attention: it is because only then will we stop trying to work things out for ourselves and begin to listen to Him. All of us are tainted with the terrible tendency to insist on getting our own way. We prefer to act as a god rather than worship the true God.”
God loves us and He will never leave us in a place where we are being damaged by our own self-interests. He will do, whatever it takes, to lead us away from our path of self-destruction back to the path of totally trusting in our Lord’s leadership.