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Stirred, Not Shaken

September 19, 2011

Last week I was on a business trip, asking myself why I was still sitting on the fence with regard to mycareer transition. As I sat and prayed I recorded these words from Psalm 15 in my journal: “LORD, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous…. He who does these things will never be shaken.” The scripture passage didn’t answer my question or fix my problem, but it stirred my spirit and gave me the courage I needed to move forward. At least for that day.

Even though I crossed the line of faith in 1978, it took me over twenty years to get serious about the Bible. One December morning in 2003 I was particularly moved by the first verse of the Gospel of John: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The author proclaims – or rather, God proclaims through John – that Jesus is the Word of God. Scripture is also the Word of God, I thought, and I had one of those AH-HA! moments of very nearly grasping a very difficult concept. Then the moment was gone, but the memory stuck. I stopped treating the Bible like just another book, and a mysterious thing happened. A dialogue opened up between God and me.

In the last decade I have read through the Bible two or three times and recorded reflections in twenty-some journals. I don’t read scripture every day, but the habit is deeply embedded in my weekly routine. Right now I’m going through Psalms, a book of poems written long before Jesus walked the earth. Many of them are attributed to David, whom God describes as a man after His own heart. Through these verses David poured out his heart to God, sometimes in anguish, sometimes in praise. In the Psalms he recorded both defeats and triumphs as he transitioned from shepherd to king of Israel.

My transition pales in comparison. Nevertheless, it’s a risky career move that trades the promise of a guaranteed salary for the uncertainty of performance-based commissions. A couple of days after my business trip I was sitting back on that fence, when I picked up my Bible and read these words in Psalm 16:

I will praise the LORD, who counsels me;

           even at night my heart instructs me.

I have set the LORD always before me.

           Because He is at my right hand,

           I will not be shaken.

Twice, in back-to-back Psalms, God has stirred my spirit. He doesn’t take away the fear; He gives me courage to move forward in the face of fear. He doesn’t guarantee that things will turn out exactly as I want; He promises that my faith will not be shaken.

He doesn’t ignore me in silence.

He speaks to me through His Word.

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