Last year our college ministry spent the summer in the Psalms, and our staff directional team took turns writing devotionals for each Psalm that we covered. While I am on vacation this summer, I thought I’d share some of the devotionals I wrote. This one is on the second half of Psalm 18, which you can read here.
After becoming a Christian halfway through college, I was introduced to the concept of getting out of my comfort zone. Fear has always been a big issue for me, and as a young believer I latched onto the idea of trusting God enough to try things that scare me.
As I approached my last summer in college, I had one PE requirement to fulfill. Since I have been deathly afraid of heights my whole life, I decided to take a class called Venture Dynamics – a “Challenge Ropes Course” class that’s still offered at my university, and is described as “designed to increase a student’s sense of personal worth and esteem, promote personal and group interaction, and develop an increased awareness of one’s physical self.” I had no idea how far out of my comfort zone this class would take me.
I have always considered myself an optimist, but I faced the lie in that every class period. Once we got beyond ground-based community building games involving hula hoops, my response to every single challenge we faced in class was “No way.” Or “I can’t do that.”
Even scarier than the high ropes course elements was the challenge called (very creatively) “The Wall.” And that’s what it was: a really high wall (10 or 12”?), which we were in charge of getting our entire class over. So not only did I have to get up on top of the thing, but I had to trust the bozos in my class to work together, come up with a plan to get everyone over without leaving anyone behind, to lift or pull me up there, and get me down again.
This was out of my comfort zone in ways I hadn’t even known existed. I lived in dread of the day we had to do “The Wall.” I was terrified.
That summer I was reading through the Psalms and landed on Psalm 18 the week of “The Wall”. As I read about the dangers David faced, I recognized my own fear – even though the situation I was in was voluntary, and certainly less dangerous than David’s. But my fear of shame and failure felt very real: I was afraid of falling, of hyperventilating in front of everyone, of being too heavy to lift. I was afraid of just flat out not being able to make myself do it, like in the 4th grade when I stood on the high dive for 30 minutes and then made everyone get off the ladder so I could climb back down.
And then I read – as if it were a message straight from God Himself for me – Psalm 18:29
“With your help I can advance against a troop; with my God I can scale a wall.”
I know that centuries ago when God inspired David to write these words, He might not have been thinking of a Texas college girl, sweating it out and vowing to never leave her comfort zone again.
But that terrified Aggie received this promise from the Spirit of God. And she WAS able to scale that wall, without even hyperventilating. And ever since that uncomfortable Texas summer, she’s remember this particular promise whenever there was a metaphorical wall to scale.
- Hard forgiveness issues in friend and family relationships? With my God I can scale a wall.
- Financial difficulties resulting in the change of all my college plans and piling up unexpected debt that was now my responsibility? With my God I can scale a wall.
- Longer-than-expected singleness in a world of weddings, rejection and lonliness? With my God I can scale a wall.
This is our God: A God we can call upon when in danger, who comes to us and meets us in hard and scary places.
His rescue won’t always look like we expect. And in my experience, it His rescue doesn’t often follow my personal time table. But we don’t have to arrange our whole lives to avoid fear and shame. We don’t have to live in the center of our comfort zone (life has a way of shoving us out of there anyway.) We don’t have to run away or numb the pain when life gets hard. We can do scary, hard things.
With my God I can scale a wall.
I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Psalm 18. This is my story (that Texas summer and since then): I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.
And this can be your story as well. What Wall are you facing? What Wall are you running away from?
Call upon the Lord – He is worthy of praise. And see what happens.
The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock; And exalted be the God of my salvation…
If you’re interested in reading any of the other Psalms devotionals from last summer (I was very impressed with my coworkers’ writing skills, I really enjoyed every one of these!), you can look around over here.