Lead Me on Level Ground

Welcome  A couple months ago, I was drawn to Psalm 143.  I don’t remember if I was cross-referencing something or looking up a suggested verse for a topical study, but I was deeply drawn to verses 9 and 10, perhaps for an unusual reason.  Unusual, or not, I am grateful for all the lessons God brings to my attention.  Today I’m going to share how this passage helped me reach another place of peace.

Food For Thought  I am a person who believes that if there is a message God wants us to see or hear, He will find a way to bring it to our attention.  I think this is especially true when we do consistent Bible study.  The fascinating thing about this is, the same verses may bring you a completely different message than what I receive.  Or, I may receive a different message today than I might have yesterday.  That’s the beauty of God’s inspired Word, it gives each of us exactly what we need, when we need it.

The first thing I noticed in this chapter, as with many of the psalms, is how David cries out to the Lord in his opening.  I feel like that, too, as David does in the first verse, “…give ear to my pleas for mercy!”  Don’t we cry out in desperation like that sometimes?  When I checked in at Bible Gateway, they described this chapter as “an earnest appeal for guidance and deliverance.”  Maybe that’s why I was so drawn to this chapter a few weeks ago.  I, too, was looking for guidance and deliverance.  On any given day, we are all wrestling with decisions, difficult choices, and making peace with mistakes of our past.  And more and more I find myself completely humbled in this process, saying, “God, what do I do now?”  When I was younger, I thought I was so smart!  I thought I could make all my plans and have them turn out just fine, with or without God’s guidance.  I have learned the hard way that I have no business making decisions on my own.  We can also identify with David’s plea for deliverance from his frustrating circumstances.  This guidance and deliverance is worded best in verses 9 and 10:

“Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!  I have fled to you for refuge.  Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” (ESV)

“Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!”  These words pull at my attention, but this time for a slightly different reason.  When I was doing my Bible journal page, my husband was curious why I would include pictures of mountains for a verse that talks about “level ground.”  Well, one of the things I have been wrestling with in the past year is my desire to change geographical residency.  Basically, I want to move to the mountains.  For some reason, I keep thinking I’m going to have all this peace if I move to my favorite region, simply because I will be surrounded by all of this beautiful nature and opportunities for hiking and waterfalls and such.  You know, because those things bring me peace and tranquility.  However, if you have ever moved in your life, you and I both know very well that moving, especially long distances, is anything but peaceful!  We also know that we cannot out-move or out-run our personal problems or adult responsibilities.  On this particular day, the words “lead me on level ground,” jumped out at me.  Yeah, I’m aware that I’m getting pretty literal with the words in the verse, but I also know it was no mistake that my attention was brought to these words.  And here’s why:  Since working in this passage, I have spent time in prayer with God asking for peace and acceptance about my current “state of my home address.”  This has helped me so much.

I know there’s people out there that don’t exactly understand where I’m coming from here.  There are people who live exactly where they want to live.  Everyone has their own “home is where the heart is,” be it city, country, mountain, beach, lakeside, high-rise, ranch, or village.  And I’ve been given lots of advice for this area of my life.  I’ve had people say just go ahead and make the move, you only live once.  I’ve had people say that family is more important and it would selfish of me to move to another state right now.  I’ve had people say I chose to settle here, so I just have to choose to accept the outcome of that choice.  I’ve had people try to reason with me that where our physical residence may be has little to no effect on our overall life.  I don’t really believe that because my moving decisions have led to some pretty amazing outcomes, like meeting my husband!  In our own household, it comes down to practical financial reasons.  My husband has a good job here and it would be very difficult for him to find something comparable at this stage in his life.  When I was still teaching, we were faced with potential moves on several occasions when his company was “rearranging.”  Every time this happened, I said it wouldn’t matter where they sent him, as long as we were together and had the security of his job.  The same is still true, however instead of moving, it involves us staying.  But it’s the same principle.

So, back to level ground.  That day, as I was reading and studying, I finally let it sink in.  Admittedly, sometimes I’m a little slow at learning spiritual lessons.  God is going to guide me and direct me where I am right now.  Right now, I need to be here, on these very flat Midwest plains, so I can get the instruction I need from God regarding the direction my life should go.  I cannot let the distraction of a move, whether geographical, career, or relationship, interrupt God’s instruction for me.  As a hiker, I should know as well as anyone, that the more level the terrain, the easier we maneuver obstacles.  Why would I want to complicate life anymore right now with a big move?  I’m already in the middle of a career change and trying to figure out how to parent a pre-teen girl!  And as verse 10 says, “your good Spirit” will lead me.  Ah, yes, the Spirit of God is soooo good and will direct my paths in the way I should go.

Home is where the heart is.  This may not be the mountains, but it’s still out in nature on some gorgeous trails with the people I love.  Instead of pining over what I don’t have, I think I’ll enjoy what I do have in the here and now!  This was our family outing to a nature preserve about 45 minutes from our home, this past weekend.

 

Today’s Scriptures  In addition to reading Psalm, chapter 143, here are two additional verses about God directing our path:

Proverbs 3:5-6 (NIV)  Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

Psalm 16:11 (NIV)  You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Today’s Recipe  If you saw yesterday’s post for Orange-Ginger Chicken, you know that I intentionally prepared extra chicken.  That’s because having pre-cooked chicken in the fridge is a great week-night time saver when it comes to dinner prep.  Today’s recipe is for a simple salad using some chopped ingredients, including some of that pre-cooked chicken, on a bed of fresh baby spinach leaves.  It’s quick and there’s no need to turn on the oven or stove on those warm spring and summer nights.

Spinach Salad with Chicken, Egg, and Mushroom (makes 4 substantial entrée-size portions)

  • 8-oz bag baby spinach leaves
  • 8-oz pkg button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped
  • 2 cooked chicken breasts, chopped
  • 1 bell-pepper, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, sliced thin
  • 4 TBS sunflower seeds
  • 4 TBS dried cranberries
  • Salad dressing of choice (goes great with Italian or Vinaigrette)

Divide the spinach leaves among 4 large dinner plates.  Top each portion with mushrooms, egg, chicken, pepper, cucumber, and onion.  Add a tablespoon of sunflower seeds and cranberries to each plate.  Serve with desired salad dressing.

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