Messiness

Editor’s Note: This week we have started reading the Psalms together. Each Wednesday in the Psalms, we will post some teaching and reflection on what we are reading that week. Today Phares’ post gives us some perspective on one of the main psalmists who we will read in the coming months, King David, a man after God’s own heart despite his messiness. 

By Phares Gilchrist

David. Sigh. I have just finished reading 2 Samuel at a glacial pace, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I didn’t read just to know the story. I wanted the full weight of his life and of his decisions to rest in a simmer. If we just focus on the beginning of his life, he is heroic, faithful, a loving servant and friend. He reluctantly takes over as king, wanting to respect Saul until it was made impossible by Saul himself. 

Then, with breathtaking abandonment of the integrity that had ruled his life, he took Bathsheba. More amazingly, he devised the death of her husband to save face. Yikes. Apart from the bold honesty of Nathan, David would have escaped accountability. One could still argue that his high position afforded him cover that ordinary men would not have received.

The rest of the story is a series of spats with his kids, problems with division of armies and loyalties, and a general muddling along. If it weren’t for the Psalms, we would have to call the whole experiment a disaster. However, we do have the Psalms, and they are integral to the story. In fact, the Psalms are more revealing than the narrative of David’s life. The Psalms tell us what was going on in David’s heart through all the mess. He shows us how to approach God, praise Him for His goodness, recognize and acknowledge our utter, bankrupt nature, and throw ourselves on His mercy. 

Screwed up messes are something we are wired for, not against. It is the fundamental engine that drives the consequences of the fall. Our only hope is intervention. Depending on the depth and breadth of the mess, time is required to sort it all out. And guess who controls time. Do I patiently wait for God to assess my emotions, to process the facts, and to bring me into alignment with His understanding of … everything? Or do I force my understanding of the facts, the emotions that result, and my desire for justice to dominate the narrative?

My best roast is seared on high heat, rotated to make sure all sides get good and brown with some dark crusting. I then put it on low and simmer it in water for a few hours, adding water when needed to keep the simmer going. Then, I raise the temperature at the end to evaporate all the moisture, and I have this heavenly like substance left that we southerners call pan drippings. This both glazes the meat and is the base for the gravy. There’s always a lot of cleanup following this process, but so worth it. 

You cannot get the result any other way. It must be seared at high heat. It must simmer for hours. The liquid must be reduced to pan drippings. Only then do you have the product needed for a rich experience. It is a fabulous base for a dinner with friends and/or family that gives us space to share our lives in a meaningful manner.

I am learning not to underestimate the value of working through the time-consuming process of redeeming the mess. It exposes our need, draws us to our Creator, puts us on simmer, and allows His best work to go on display. It results in a richer, deeper understanding of who He is. Armed with this knowledge, and allowing Him to access my heart with it, allows for transformation. Transformation means I need not live in the mess any longer. It has been redeemed. David’s messes were part of the narrative that brought us to our need for Christ, allowing for redemption. 

Let’s just let that simmer.

Do not cast me away from Your presence,

 And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of Your salvation

 And sustain me with a willing spirit.

Psalm 51:11-12

3 thoughts on “Messiness

  1. So good, Phares. You have inspired me to re-read 2 Samuel. 🙂 I love how David and so many others remind us that life with God is filled with messiness, with ups and downs, yet He ultimately uses us to display His best work. Oh, what a good thought for this week! Thank you!

    Like

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