Depression (meditation on Psalm 139)

Clouds Obscure My Vision

All my thoughts are gray.
I am lost in despondency.
I cannot move for the weight of my darkness.
O Lord, You search for me, because You care for me.
I make my bed in Sheol.
Behold, You are here with me.
You stoop down to meet me, because You love me.
You come along side me, because of Your great compassion.
You understand how I feel, because You walked these paths.
You cry with me and do not run out of tears.
This gray day has been known by You since I was first made,
Its purpose is not lost, because You are with me.
Your compassion for me will never end; it will never grow old.
You surround me and have laid Your hand upon me.
I scarcely understand.
Though I forsake myself, You will not.
And someday, I will enter Your rest,
Because Your grip is sure and You know the way.

Mount St. Helens

Mount St. Helens

The changing landscape

Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 139

Why is the word endures used here? Why not lasts or goes on? I think part of the reason is that God still loves me in spite of my waywardness. His love endures my shortcomings.

God’s love does not erode over time. The mountains will eventual crumble, but God’s love endures forever. His love is just as forgiving, just as intense, just as strong, just as pure, as it was at the beginning of time. God’s love will never fail. So fall on your knees and give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures for ever.

When Anxiety Presses In

lightening-7628

Fear of Fire

There are certain memories that I can’t allow my mind to dwell upon, or my anxiety takes charge. It is like thinking of sharks when you’re swimming in the ocean. When my angst starts to rise I must fall at the feet of Jesus and ask Him for help. Otherwise, I get all wound up and stress out. On the last occasion, when my fears started to rise, the Holy Spirit reminded me of John 17:26.

I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.

According to Jesus’ prayer for me, He will continue to make the Father known to me “in order that the love God has for Jesus may be in me.” Wow, how amazing is that? The love God has for the Son is placed upon and in me. The simple reason for this is the Holy Spirit places Jesus in me. Think of it, the creator of all things in me. When I set my mind to dwell upon this prayer, my anxiety and depression begin to bow before Jesus, and I can start to breath again.

The Land of Miracles

Mount Rainier-Berkeley Park

Berkeley Park, Mount Rainier National Park

Berkeley Park is a place of flowers and mist, a peaceful place for healing of the soul.

Have you ever prayed for healing? This appeal to God is little scary for me. It is even scarier when the prayer is for a child with a life threatening illness. I am scared because I don’t know if my faith measures up to what is required. Can I muster the faith required, or will one little deviation, one little doubt, one little slip cause the miracle to crumble? That is what one father worried about when he asked Jesus to heal his son.

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.”
Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”                Mark 9:17-24

This man knew the faith needed to heal his son was beyond his ability. I think it is beyond most people’s ability to summon that kind of faith, even the disciples couldn’t do it. But Jesus healed the boy because He is the author and perfecter of faith and interceded with God on behalf of the man and his son.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.  Hebrews 4:14-16

I may not have what it takes, but I can go to my high priest, Jesus, and pray: “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” Knowing that brings peace to my soul.

Spring Cascade of Color

Spring Bouquet

Balsamroot spill over from the heights

This picture, from above my home, shows the Spring cascade of color.

The desert and the parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom… But only the redeemed will walk there,
and the ransomed of the Lord will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away. Isaiah 35:1, 9-10

My hope is not in the beauty of this world, but in Jesus my creator, my redeemer, my shepherd, my king. Only in Him do gladness and joy reside forever. Only in Him will sorrow and sighing be excluded from spoiling eternity.

Hidden

hidden grandure

Hidden grandeur

This picture of a mountain looking through clouds reminds me of my understanding of God’s love. Sometimes I am angry at God and cannot see His love. Sometimes I am ashamed of myself and cannot think anyone could love me. Occasionally my vision of God’s love is clear and I am swept up in the wonder. But most of the time I know it is there for I can see it vaguely as through a cloud.

This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins…God is love.
1 John 4:9-10, 16

How good it is to know that God’ s love for me is not dependent on the clarity of my love for Him — it is because that’s who God is. Even though you do not see it clearly that does not diminish the fact that it is there in all its glory — I just have to trust Him for it.

The Line Between Light and Dark

Sun Mountain-1

Light meets dark

This picture is difficult to understand because there is nothing to help you align yourself as to the scene. Life is like this picture, we need something to help us in making sense of what is happening. A passage in Isaiah speaks to God meeting our need:

“See, I lay a stone in Zion,
a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who trusts will never be dismayed.
I will make justice the measuring line
and righteousness the plumb line;” Isaiah 28:16-17

Isaiah is prophesying about a coming Messiah, who will be our foundation and cornerstone. Through the Messiah, life will not dismay us, but in Him we will gain understanding and meaning for all that happens. I desperately need help, to know up from down, right from wrong, and good from bad. In Jesus, God has given me a cornerstone for measuring and understanding life.

I have provided two additional photographs below for better orientation. They are from the same scene, but a slightly different direction to provide context.

Sun Mountain-2

Shades of snow

Sun Mountain-3

Valley fog and snow covered ridge

These photographs were taken near Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop WA. The first is looking up at a snow covered ridge, shrouded by a cloud. The second includes the side hill and a snow covered pine tree, and the third a view of the mountain in the distance as the cloud lifted.

Grace and Peace

Winter Along Icicle Creek

New snow, new day, peaceful and serene along the Icicle Creek

The scene is the Icicle Creek near Leavenworth WA. The photo was taken the morning after a snow fall in early winter. All is at peace with only the rushing of water for background music. I like to think of this moment as God’s salutation to me:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Every letter in the New Testament begins with this greeting. The reason is grace and peace go together, with the gift of grace comes the gift of peace (see Romans 5:1). But I have to admit, often in accepting God’s forgiveness, I fail to also receive His peace that comes with it. Instead my mind falls into old ruts that rob me of the fullness of grace.

These are my ruts. I am sure you can add others to this list:

Grace and “Don’t let it happen again!”
Grace and “What a mess you’ve made.”
Grace and “You’re no good.”
Grace and the temptation to give up on myself.
Grace and fear.

Truth is I need help to receive all that God wants to give me. I need His help to put down the cacophony of lying voices in my head. I need His grace applied not only to forgive my sins, but also to let His peace rule in my life. Quite simply, I need grace upon grace.

For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. (John 1:16)

Therefore, as you live by God’s grace don’t let your thoughts lie about the conditions of His grace. Instead ask for grace upon grace, so that you can walk in the peace that God has for you in Jesus Christ.

Grace, like new fallen snow, covering everything with His peace.

Christmas Preparation

Sun lifting the clouds on the mountain peaks

Mountains make ready for the sun.

A voice of one calling:
“In the desert prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the wilderness
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the
Lord has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5

I prepare by humbly asking for the Holy Spirit to come and make a straight path through my wilderness. Allowing my Lord to raise me up from my dark valleys, to fill them in with His presence. Then ask Him to bring down the mountainous obstacles I have erected, such as my way versus His way, and a pride that rebuffs the notion I need changing.

“Build up, build up, prepare the road!
Remove the obstacles out of the way of my people.”
For this is what the high and lofty One says—
he who lives forever, whose name is holy:
“I live in a high and holy place,
but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the lowly
and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:14-15

Reflecting the Light

mountain reflection

I can either obstruct the light and become part of the shadows, or reflect the light and be part of the kingdom of light.

“He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me, scatters.” -Jesus, Luke 11:23