If you've kept up with this blog, you will recognize this recurring theme of refuge. My inability to experience refuge is what prompted the blog in the first place and I've mentioned repeatedly how the whole blog seems to be a journey focused on finding that safe refuge I used to so easily fall into.
To be honest, even with some of the new understandings about refuge that have settled into my heart, I still get uneasy when I come across another psalm focused on the topic. It's like when you are already feeling self-conscious about the only clean outfit you could find that morning and then you get to work and someone mentions that there is a stain on the front of the shirt. It makes you cringe and want to pick a fight all at the same time. That might not be the best analogy, but I'm struggling to define exactly why it is so hard to read a psalm that deals with the purpose of the blog - refuge.
I guess the main reason reading about refuge is uncomfortable to me is because it is so obviously lacking from my life. I try hard to have faith, but it's not always easy when things are tough and I can't seem to grasp onto the refuge I used to so easily take hold of. I read about how refuge means a safe place and get frustrated because I can't seem to find that safe place. Then, I wonder why I can't find refuge. What am I doing wrong? Why is God ignoring me? Is he ignoring me? When will things finally change? The list continues and I have no answers. At all.
So, Psalm 16 is no different than the previous refuge-focused psalms to me. It's tough. I see what refuge should look like and I long for it and I become frustrated because I can't reach it. Then, I beat myself up. If only I did this or this, God might let me have the refuge I desire. Maybe if I wasn't so _____ or _____, I could feel close to God again. Then I wonder, how much of this thinking is God trying to point me back toward him and how much of it is Satan trying to pull me away.
If you know me well, you know that I'm a very analytical person. I spend a lot of time thinking and making decisions. My brain and my heart do not handle unanswered questions very well. I am used to understanding things and understanding them easily. The current state of my relationship with God, however, seems incomprehensible. How did I get here and how do I get out? I think Psalm 16 helps illuminate some of those answers, even if the answers aren't exactly what I'm looking for.
Verse 4 says, "those who run after other gods will suffer more and more." I could go on for a while about this idea of other gods, or idols, but I'll keep this brief. While I don't chase down other deities, I do let my focus stray from the true God. I don't worship things other than God, but I do let other things block the focus that should be directed toward Him.
I want to be able to say that God is "my portion and my cup," like David says in verse 5. I know that once I am able to say that with honesty, I will be able to stop focusing on the circumstances in my life that seem so difficult at times. Just like in verse 6, I want to praise the Lord and the instruction of God in my heart always. I want to keep my eyes on the Lord and remain firm, unshaken, like in verse 7.