Stuck Week 5: Paralysis By Analysis: A Directionless Life
Hello? I’m still here. Still stuck. You people watch me struggle every week and just laugh. Ugh. Don’t you ever feel like you’re upside down or in the middle? Or in the thick of it? Life can be like that, but how do we get out of it? Maybe it starts with just one good push in the right direction to get unstuck. Turtle out.
Turtle out. Anyway, we’re in a series called “Stuck.” Good morning to everybody, and, also, to those who watch via the mobile app and the internet. We welcome you as well. At the beginning of every sermon that I do in a series, I try to just sort of do a quick recap. And I do that for a number of reasons. One, it just keeps all of us on the same page, but it’s also good if you’ve missed a week, or maybe this is your first time here. It brings everybody up to speed so that nobody feels like they’re left out.
What we’ve been doing over the last several weeks in this series called “Stuck” is we’ve been looking at areas in our lives that we get stuck in. There’s not anybody who doesn’t get stuck in life at some point. Whether it’s a decision that you need to make and you’re not quite sure what to do and where to go, or whether it’s a relationship that you’re stuck in, or whether it’s a job that you’re stuck in, or maybe it’s some family issues. Whatever it may be, we all, from time to time, get stuck. So, what we’re trying to do is look at areas in our lives that we do get stuck in, and try to figure out if we can get some tools to put in our toolbox so that we can get unstuck when we’re stuck, or that we can maybe help ourselves from getting stuck in the first place.
So, in every series, I try to have a big umbrella idea that we’re trying to look at that everything sort of falls in. This has been the big idea so far in the series: Trying to learn how to get unstuck when we are stuck, so when we get stuck, we don’t stay stuck. I think all of us can relate to this at some level because we’ve all been stuck. Maybe we’re stuck right now. So, it’s a big deal to me, as your pastor, to make sure that when you come here and you give me four hours of your time for a sermon — half an hour — that I do my best, I try as hard as I can, to make sure that you leave here with something that you didn’t come in here with. So, big deal to me.
This weekend, I want to talk about something that I’m pretty confident most of us can go, “I’m in.” Most of us will go, “Do you know what? This is sort of me.” We’ve been dealing with specific areas that we get stuck in, but sometimes we just get stuck in life, just doing life. It works something like this: You’ve got this thing going on, and this thing going on, and this thing going on, and this thing going on, and this, and this, and this and this. When you put it all together in a blender, we’re just sort of stuck in life. It’s like we look around at all the things that are going on and we’re just sort of paralyzed by looking at everything. I call it paralysis by analysis. We’re just like, “Whoa. What is going on? How do I handle all of these things?”
Being honest, if it were just one thing, if it were just that one, little thing, you’d go, “Ah, I can handle that.” But when you bunch them all together, sometimes we just feel overwhelmed and stuck in life in general. So, I want to try to address that because there is a wonderful psalm in the Scripture that deals with someone who is absolutely stuck in their life. The way that they go about addressing it, and the way that they go about dealing with it is going to be counterintuitive in many ways, but I really think we’re going to learn a lot. We’re going to be challenged a lot as we go through this.
The psalm is Psalm 25. David is the one who wrote this psalm. Now, when you read the psalm — and it would be okay if you read the psalm at home and this is what you got. A lot of times, you read Psalms, it starts off and he says what he says. You get through, then you’re on 26, or maybe you’re on the New Testament or whatever. But I think, sometimes, we’ve got to stop and really look at the psalm in its totality, in the complexity and in the context of what’s going on because one of the things that is easy to do in Psalm 25 is to miss what’s going on in David’s life. He says some things up front that if you know what’s going on his life, you wouldn’t expect him to say those things because he’s speaking from a position of faith.
So, we’re going to see some of this stuff as we go through the psalm. But I think we need to look at the context first. In Psalm 25:16 — we’re going to look at all of it. We’re going to go through the whole psalm, but in Psalm 25:16, he tells you what’s going on in his life. It’s easy, if you’ve read Psalm 25:1-15, to just look at Psalm 25:16-19 and go, “I don’t know what that is,” and move on. But it’s really imperative to the overall flow of the psalm, and also to us understanding what’s going on in Scripture. So, here’s what David says, starting in Psalm 25:16. This is where he’s at in his life.
He says, “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
Now, when you think about this for a second, loneliness is on the inside. Affliction is on the outside. David not only is stuck in life on the inside, he’s also stuck on the outside. He’s got junk and funk and garbage and every kind of thing going on in his life. He says, “I’m lonely. I feel alone. I’m also afflicted.”
He also goes on to say, “The troubles of my heart are enlarged.”
In other words, “I’ve got all kinds of emotions going on. I’ve got just thoughts going on. I’m struggling on the inside and the outside.”
“Bring me out of my distresses.”
That’s plural. That means that there’s more than one. He’s got all kinds of stuff going on.
He says, “Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Consider how many are my foes, and with what violent hatred they hate me.”
This is not a good position to be at in David’s life. He’s stuck. He’s got all kinds of things going on in his life. It’s sort of hard because I don’t know about you, but when I’m going through stuff in my life, I usually don’t use the biblical words. I don’t go, “Many are my foes.” Right? Anybody ever do that one? Probably not. “The troubles of my heart are enlarged.” I mean, that’s just not the way we speak. You know?
But we do speak like this when we’re dealing with some of this stuff. We might say, “Did I do something in my past that’s creating some of this? Was there something that I did?” Look, maybe you all don’t ever struggle with being stuck in life, but guys like me, we do. I mean, you may be more spiritual than me, but I’m telling you, in our lives, at least in my life sometimes, I struggle. I’m going to be honest here. I’ve had moments in my car where I’ve been driving down the road, stuff’s been going on and I’m like, “Okay, God. Let’s just have a real conversation here. Did I sleepwalk one night in my life and I must’ve done something to my neighbor or said something to someone and I’m paying for it and I don’t even know about it? Would You reveal that to me?”
I mean, I’ve had those moments where you’re just like, “What am I paying for? Why is this going on in my life? Why am I being afflicted? Why is this going on?”
You know? We wouldn’t say, “Many are my foes,” but we might say, “God, what is going on in my life? I just can’t even handle my emotions. I’ve got fear and anxiety and all these crazy things going on in my life. God, I just feel like I’m directionless. I don’t even know where to turn. I don’t know where to go.”
That’s what David is saying in Psalm 25:16-19. He does have foes. He has people that are watching him, looking at him, going, “Ha! You say you’re a follower of God? Look at your life. It doesn’t look like God’s for you.”
He’s got that going on. He’s feeling lonely on the inside. He’s feeling afflicted. His emotions are raging. He is just stuck in life, like many of us get. But where he starts in the psalm is probably not where you and I would start. Because I don’t know about you, but when I’m going through a lot of difficulty, where I’m at is, “Hey, God. Can You get me out of this? God, can You provide for this? God, can You get an answer for this? God, can You do something for this?”
David doesn’t even go that direction at the beginning of the psalm, which is why it’s so important to understand where he is because what he writes is so counterintuitive to, probably, a lot of the things that you and I would do. What he writes is from a place of deep and abiding faith. We’re told about David that he’s a man after God’s own heart. I think we’re going to see this as we work through this psalm as to what David says.
What I’m hoping is that we read the Word of God, it’ll pierce our hearts, and we’ll go, “Do you know what? I don’t normally act that way, and I don’t normally think that way, but I should.” What I’m also hoping is that it will instill and engender faith in all of our hearts to say, “Do you know what? When I’m stuck in life, I am going to approach this differently than, maybe, the way that I would have before I came in today. But now, hearing this word, I think I’m going to have a whole new outlook on how I can approach life when I’m stuck.”
This is what David says in Psalm 25:1:
“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”
I don’t know what you would’ve thought he would’ve started off with, knowing what was going on his life. Maybe, “God, could You answer me? God, could You come down and slay my enemies? God, could You come down and do whatever You do? Do that God thing; that miracle thing.”
He starts off and says, “To you.” That’s personal. He’s got a real personal relationship with God. It’s not something that he’s recited or something that he’s memorized or whatever. This is personal.
He says, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.”
Let me give you a translation here of what this means. He says, “To you, O Lord, I give you my entire life.”
He says, “O my God, in you I trust.”
Which is counterintuitive because most of us, when we’re in the difficulties and stuck in life, we’re looking for a way out. We’re not just looking to find God because, sort of in our mind, the answer that we need is not just God. We need a deliberate answer. He says, “No. God, I give You all that I am. You are my God. I trust You.” And then the next thing he says is like, “Wow.” It’s like, “Whoa.” Listen to what he says.
“Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.”
I’ve got to explain shame because we wouldn’t understand what David’s saying because we don’t live in that culture. I want to read this first, then I’ll explain it.
“Let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me. Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame.”
Listen to what he’s saying here. In David’s culture, it was an honor and shame culture. Honor and shame was done publicly. So, you were shamed publicly or you were honored publicly. When he talks about his enemies that are around him looking to shame him, he’s basically saying the way he’s living and his circumstances that he’s currently in don’t really look like God’s for him in that moment. What he says here is, “Listen, don’t let me be put to shame. Don’t let my enemies exult over me because here’s what I know. I know that those who wait for you...” — and waiting is not passive. It’s not sitting back and doing nothing. It’s actively still living out life, still loving people, still serving, doing the things. But it’s saying, “I’m going to continue to live this life because I know this is what God wants me to do. Even though He hasn’t acted, I’m waiting on Him to act.”
“Indeed, none who wait for you will be put to shame.”
When we think of shame, we think of just this internal emotion that we just feel sort of bad or guilty or whatever. That is not the biblical usage. When we read Romans 1 when it says, “I’m not ashamed of the Gospel,” it is not talking about not being ashamed, like, to tell somebody about Jesus. What it’s saying is that in the current situation we find ourselves, Romans 1-3, which is that the whole world is sort of under sin, how in the world has God, who’s a good God, allowed all this to happen? How’s He going to put it back together?
Paul says, “I’m not ashamed of this Gospel,” and Romans shows you how He’s going to bring everything back together, how the Gentiles are coming in, the Jewish people are coming in, how everything’s put back together. He’s saying, “I’m not ashamed of this because God’s still going to do the things God says He’s going to do, even though it doesn’t look like it right now.”
He says, “I know nobody who waits for You is going to be put to shame.” This is a guy that’s in the middle of junk. This is a guy that life’s upside down, overwhelmed and stuck. Not the way we probably would normally talk to God here. “God, I’ve got faith. I know. No matter what the circumstances say, I know who You are and I know that You’re not going. I’m not going to play circumstantial Christianity. I’m going to trust You.”
In fact, he goes on to say, “The ones that are going to be ashamed are the ones who are wantonly treacherous, the ones who don’t wait on You, the ones that don’t serve You, the ones that don’t want to have anything to do with You. They’re the ones that are going to ultimately be ashamed. They’re the ones that are looking at me right now going, “Ha! Yeah. Look at you, man. Your life, the circumstances, look at what’s going on. Yeah, God really most love you.”
David says, “No. I know. I know who God is. I know. I’m putting my trust in Him. I’m putting my life in Him. I know that nobody who waits on Him is going to be put to shame.”
And then listen to what he says as we just continue through this psalm. Remember, we just read where David’s at in his life. We just read where he’s at. Look at the way he talks. Look at the way he lives. Hopefully, what it’ll do is it’ll engender us and speak to us to want to live a different life, which is the life of faith in the midst of circumstances that are overwhelming and when we’re stuck in life. But, hopefully, at the same time, it’ll also let us see that, “Hey, this is the way we really should live. This is the way people who follow God should live.”
He goes on to say, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths.”
In other words, instruct me. What I need to know is — I just need to know exactly the things that You want in my life. The things You want me to do. Listen to it. He’s in a bad place. He’s saying, “Hey, while I’m in the bad place, show me what I need to see. Show me what I need to learn. Show me what you’re doing in my right now.” Which is not usually the way we deal with bad circumstances. We normally are just like, “Can you get me out of here?”
Right? Amen? Okay.
He says, “Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
See, if you just read this psalm through, when you get to Psalm 25:16, you’re like, “What’s he saying?” And then you finish the psalm and it’s like, “I don’t know what that meant.” When you understand he backloaded his situation and you look at the way David is approaching life, it’s really different than the way we normally would approach life, but it’s the way we should approach life in faith. Because the only thing that pleases God is faith. He wants us to believe Him even when our circumstances don’t look like we should believe Him. He wants us to trust Him.
He says, “Lead me in Your truth and teach me. I’m going to wait on You, God. I know that You’re going to do what You do.”
He goes on to say, “Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.”
He’s not saying to remember it as if God forgot. He’s saying this to remember who God is. He’s saying, “Your character has been all the way from old. You are a God of mercy and You are a God of love. Even though I know right now, in my life, I’m stuck here, I have faith in You that what I need is You. I trust You, God. I give You my life. I know that I’m not going to be ashamed because I know that nobody’s going to be shamed who waits for You. I know who You are, Lord. Just continue to instruct me and help me because I know that no matter what’s going on in my life, You are a God of mercy and a God of love and You’ve been that way from all the way back there. You’re the same God today, yesterday and forevermore. I can trust who You are because that’s who Your character is.”
He says, “Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O Lord.”
In other words, what he’s saying is, in effect, “God, I know that everything that I’m experiencing right here, even if it was tied to whatever, or anything else, I know that You are a God of love and a God of mercy. And I’m not going to determine how I feel and what I think in the midst of this stuff I’m in. I’m going to derive my sense of life and value from my relationship with You.”
He says, “Good and upright is the Lord.”
Let’s be honest here. When you’re going through difficulties, or you see things in the world, we go, “Why would God allow that? Why would God let that happen? Why would God allow me to be stuck in life?”
David says, “Let me just go ahead and put it out there, once and for all. God is a good God. He’s upright. In fact, He’s so good and He’s so upright that He instructs sinners in the way. People that are walking away from Him, He arrests their heart and starts teaching them to walk towards Him. That’s how good God is.”
See, what I want you to see here, I want us all to see this, is that David is stuck in life. I mean, he’s got a lot of stuff going on in his life, but listen to the way he approaches life. It’s different, usually, than the way we would, or I would, when difficulties arise — when we’re stuck. He said, “Man, I know I need God. He’s good. His character’s good. I know who He is.”
He says, “He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way.”
You know, a lot of times when we go through difficulties, we’re anything but humble. Right? It’s like we start saying, “God, You’ve got to do this. You’ve got to deliver.” Rather than saying, “God, do You know what? Whatever Your hand provides, I’m open to it. I just want You to teach me. I just want You to show me because I know that You’re good, I know that You’re upright, and I know that You’re not going to let anybody who loves You and are Your children be put to shame. So, God, I can trust You.”
Big difference, right, than maybe the way we would get in the shower and complain to God, or in the car on the way to work, saying, “God, I can’t believe this is going on,” or whatever. That’s why this psalm is so important.
He goes on to say, “All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.”
He just keeps reminding himself who God is.
He says, “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.”
This is beautiful. This is a beautiful pause right here. As David is saying, “I believe. I need God. He’s a good God. He’s a faithful God,” he’s at least honest here with us because this is what happened. When we get in those moments where we’re trying to trust God, trying to have faith — it’s like the man who had the little boy that was sick. Jesus says, “Do you think I can heal him?”
He’s like, “Lord, I believe, but help my unbelief.” There’s always that moment where you’re trying to go, “I believe. I believe. I believe.” And then there’s something inside that’s like, “I don’t know. This is crazy.”
David, right in the middle, is like, “Hey, Lord. For Your name’s sake, pardon my guilt, for it is great. I’m saying these things, but I’m also, at times, feeling like it’s not going to happen. Help me here, on the inward struggle that I have, as I’m trying to live this life of faith out.”
He says, “Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way that he should choose.”
“See? I’m directionless right now. I’m lonely and I’m afflicted. I have all these things going on in my life. But who is God going to lead? He’s going to lead the one that fears Him and the one that trusts Him. He is going to.”
Even in the good and in the bad, when it’s all said and done, you and I will realize that God’s hand of providence was on our life in a way that we had no idea that it actually was. That’s faith. That’s trust.
He says, “His soul shall abide in well-being, and his offspring shall inherit the land.”
What is he saying here? He’s saying, “This life that I’m leading that people are making fun of, and I’m feeling lonely and I’m feeling afflicted, and life’s not going good for me, I still know it’s the best life. I know that, eventually, where this ends is in well-being, goodness for my children and their children and all of those things.”
He says, “The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant.”
And then he says this: “My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.”
Now, remember, the next verse is, “Turn and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.”
He just said, “My eyes are towards the Lord. He’s going to pluck me feet out of the net.” This is someone who is living in faith in the midst of the tragedy and overwhelmingness and being stuck in life. So, let’s take a break here for a minute because there’s a little bit more to the psalm that we’re going to finish up with in a minute. But let’s take a break here and let’s sort of recap what we have looked at and what we’ve seen so far in this psalm. I’m putting this under the umbrella of things to remember when I’m stuck in life. If you don’t take notes, this would be a great time to become a note-taker. If you want to take your phone and take pictures, you can do that. If you have a pen but no paper, just write it on your neighbor’s arm, and then you can take a picture of it, later, with your phone. Get it because God loves note-takers. The book of Hezekiah says so.
There’s no book of Hezekiah. In case you’re going, “Is that — I don’t remember that.” There’s no book of Hezekiah. That’s a joke. It’s funny. Anyway, the things to remember when we’re stuck in life. Okay? These are principles that I’m trying to give us all, so that when we’re stuck in life, we can remember these.
First one. Big one. God Himself is the answer that we seek. I need to unpack this, but I want you to write this down. God Himself, God, is the answer that we’re looking for. When we’re stuck in life, if we’re honest with ourselves — just be honest here. You can be honest if you’re watching via the internet or mobile app. If we’re honest, here’s the deal: Things we look for when we’re sort of directionless and stuck in life is we’re looking for answers, solutions, paths, doors. We’ll even take a window that’s cracked. Can I get an “amen?”
This is what we’re looking for. What I would like to suggest to you is these are not going to provide for you, in the endgame, the things that you need. The person that is what we need when we’re stuck in life, and it’s part of the reason why God lets us get stuck in life, is He wants us to learn to understand that if we have God, we have everything that we need. I want you to feel the weighty-ness of that because every one of us, when we’re stuck in life, want to use God as a means to an end, to get what we want, to solve our problems, when God is saying, “No, no, no. The answer to your problems is not that. It’s me.”
That’s why David says, “Lord, to You I lift up my soul.” He doesn’t say, “Give me an answer, open a door, create a path.” He says, “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. To You I give my life. Lord, O my God, in You I trust. I realize that all the answers that I’m looking for in my life...”
And we do it. We go from thing to thing. “If I could just get this, I’ll be good. If this would just work out, this’ll be good.” But it’s never enough because you just move from one thing to another. We all do this. God is saying, “All the things you’re looking for, all the answers that you’re looking for, all the doors that you’re looking for, they’re complete in me.” That is a life of faith that says, “God, You’re what I need.”
Second thing when we’re stuck in life. This is important. I’m going to have to expound this and explain this, so just hold on. Let me read it, and then I’ll explain it. Okay? The security in our walk with God is not determined by our obedience, but on the Lord’s steadfast love and faithfulness. What does that mean? What that means is this: When you and I are stuck in life, what we start doing is we start playing this mental game of, “Okay. I’m stuck in life. I need an answer. How am I going to get God to answer? I’m going to get God to answer by figuring out what I did wrong. Or I’m going to get God to answer by having a little bit more faith. Or maybe I need to go to one of those small groups that Pastor Chip said I need to go to so God will show up so I can get an answer. Or maybe I just need to come to the church and pray a little bit more. Or maybe I need to go to two services. Or maybe I need to do something.”
What we do is we start to get on this performance wheel, this hamster wheel, of thinking that it’s our obedience and how well we do that ultimately gives us the security that God loves me. I’d like to dispel that myth. There’s nothing that you and I can do to get God to love you and me. There’s nothing that we can do to earn our salvation. If we derive our sense of security and wellbeing from how well we obey the Lord, then what we have done is we’ve created a performance in our relationship with God. God’s not after your performance. He’s after you. He wants you. Because, see, if you understand that Christianity doesn’t start or become secure by what I do, it starts and is secure by what Jesus has done, then what happens is you’re drawing strength from the work of what Jesus has done in your life, and out of the love for what He’s done, obedience flows from there. Big difference.
In other words, salvation is not determined by your grip on God. Salvation is determined more by His grip on you. We so often look at all of these things based on, “I’ve got to do. I’ve got to do this. I’ve got to perform. I’ve got to do this.”
I’m not saying you just go out and live however you want to live, just say, “I love You, Jesus,” and then just go do whatever. The Scripture doesn’t say that at all. What Scripture does tell us is that we’re not going to get our security from how well we perform. We get our security based on what Jesus did for you and me. Was it a complete work? Did He create holiness?
Believe this or not, you are as holy as you’re ever going to be right now. You go, “Well, I feel more holey, Chip, than holy.” I get it. We do. But if you’re a child of God, you’re forgiven. If you’re a child of God, you’re one of His. If you’re a child of God, you’re righteous. If you’re a child of God, you’re all these things. Now, the fun part of living in this world is that where these things are true positionally in Christ, they’re not always what we look like practically in our lives. So, what we’re trying to do in life, sanctification, is to get those two things to measure up. But it doesn’t diminish the fact of what God’s done. Oftentimes, when we’re so bogged down and stuck in life, we get into this performance thing that almost makes it worse than what it was before instead of resting in God, which is what David says. He says, “Remember Your mercy, O Lord, and steadfast love. They’ve been from old. This is who You are. This is just who You are. You’re a loving and merciful God.”
I don’t do something for You to go, “Wow. Let me now give you grace and mercy.” That’s just who You are. In fact, this is a beautiful, beautiful thing to memorize. It’s not biblical. It’s not in the Bible. It’s actually from a Heidelberg Catechism, but it’s so true. It says this:
“In this life, even the holiest have only a small beginning of obedience.”
Let that sink in for a minute. If God is infinitely holy, how well do you think your holiness is and my holiness is compared to God’s infinite holiness? We would never get there. If it was based on how well I loved or forgave or anything like that, it would never get there because He’s infinitely that. I’m not. I’m finite. So, there’s no way I could ever measure up. That’s why Jesus came. That’s why He came for you and me. He came for you and me so that could be bridged. When we accept Jesus and we start to follow Jesus, all those things are given to us up front. 2 Peter says that. It says, “We’ve been given all things that pertain to life in godliness.”
Don’t get yourself stuck in life trying to get on a hamster wheel, performing, to get God to love you. Understand that He does love you. Let that flow into your life where you obey God, rather than trying to make it something that you’re doing to get his favor. Does that make sense? Good, because I think we struggle.
Third thing is this. Write this down. God is good. Now, listen to me. This is really important. When we’re going through difficulties in life, when we see difficulties in life, when we’re stuck in life, do you know where we usually go? It’s to start questioning, “Is God really good? Why did He let that happen? Why’s He letting this go on? Why is this thing happening to me in my life?”
What we do is we start to question whether or not God is good. That’s why David, even though he’s going through difficulties, says, “Good and upright is the Lord.” Let me tell you something. Listen to me and listen to me well. This may be really bad grammar, but it is good Gospel. I assure you that when we stand in front of God, He’s going to be way gooder than we ever even imagined. Amen? Hold on. Hold on for a second here. I want to have a Pastor Chip moment with everybody. I want you to listen to me. I want you to lean in here. This is important. Sorry, for those who watch via the internet and mobile app. It looks like I disappeared. “Chip was like Enoch. He walked with God and he was not.”
Anyway, listen to me. My kids, for whatever reason, don’t realize, from time to time, that when they go down the driveway, it goes out into a road. They like to get on their scooters and their bikes and they like to go flying down the little incline. I mean, there’s really no hills here in Florida. It’s like a ripple. But they go down. Oftentimes, they don’t see what’s going on. There have been times when one of them has been flying down the driveway, or at the old house out in the cul-de-sac or whatever, where there was a car coming, something was going on, or maybe one of the kids was going towards the other one and they didn’t see it or whatever, and I physically had to grab the bike, grab the scooter or grab them because they were going to hit something, or I thought that, maybe, something massive would happen in their life.
When I did that — not every time, but I’ve done it before where I grabbed a bike, grabbed a scooter or grabbed them, and rather than just keeping them from going where they were going, what happened was the scooter or the bike flipped over, they fall on the ground, they skin their knee, they skin their elbow, hit their head or whatever. They’re bleeding and everything. They look up and they’re like, “Daddy, why did you do that to me? Why did you do that to me?”
I’m like, “I just saved your life.”
You know? Do you know who Rodney Dangerfield is? Because I’m getting no respect. You know?
They do not have the aptitude or the ability to process more than the pain and the head hit and the skinned elbow and arm that they have. They can’t process that. So many of us — listen to me. You have been bruised, you’ve been scarred, your head’s been hit, your knee’s been skinned, your finger’s been broken, and you’re looking and God and you’re saying, “Why did You let this happen?”
Trust me when I tell you that when you stand before your Heavenly Father, you’re going to have that same moment where you realize when you have the ability to understand the data points, your Heavenly Father was way better than you ever thought. Way better. He is a good God. Don’t get stuck in life and question that. Just because I can’t or you can’t assimilate all of the data doesn’t mean He can’t and doesn’t mean He wasn’t looking out after you.
Number four: Most of our directionless problems aren’t in the knowing. They’re actually in the doing. When we’re sort of stuck in life and we don’t know where to go or what to do, we’re like, “I don’t know what to do. I just don’t know. I just don’t know.” Normally, it’s not really the knowing. It’s really the doing. We use the knowing to sort of paralyze ourselves from actually doing.
Let me explain this to you. There’s nothing — your marriage, God’s already talked about that. Raising your kids, already talked about that. “Should I actually be nice to that person?” He’s already talked about that. “Should I forgive that person?” He’s already talked about that. “Oh, I need to pray about it, Brother Bennett. I need to pray if I should forgive.” No. You don’t need to pray about it. You just need to do it. “Well, I know, but I want to be spiritual.” No. He’s already said. He has spoken to you and me in principle about every single thing that we need to do. It’s not a knowing issue. It’s a doing issue.
What happens is, though, is we want to narrow it down in such a way because, ultimately, we don’t want to take any responsibility. If we can blame it on God, that’d be great. That’s what Adam did. Right? He got a twofer. He said, “The woman You gave me.” He got Him and her. You know? She blamed the snake and we’ve been blaming everybody else ever since. I mean, it just cascades.
The reality is this. I’m just going to give you some good, good, good advice here. When you’re directionless in life — and maybe it’s a decision. You’re like, “I don’t know if I should go to this school or that school. I don’t know if I should go here or do this.” Here’s what you do. I’m just telling you this is what you do. If there’s something that’s biblically wrong about one or the other, then you know your answer. If both of them are biblically true, then what you do is you look at it and you go, “Which one do I like more?” And then you go find two or three people in your life that are a season or two ahead of you, that are smarter than you in the Lord, or know more about this than you do in the Lord. Ask them what they think. Ask them to pray with you. Pray and then make the decision.
And I’m going to tell you something, because I’ve done this. One of two things is going to be true about that decision that you just made. It’s either going to be a good one or a bad one. Listen to me. If you have honored God and you have done your best, God will be with you in the bad decision to help you, instruct you, and teach you in life to become more like His Son. If you make a good decision, you’ll still honor Him and do the things. You’re going to make some good and some bad because God needs you to make some good and bad. He needs us to do those things. What we don’t want to do is become paralyzed. That’s why David realizes that, dude, it’s me. He’s like, “Make me to know Your ways. Teach me Your paths. Lead me in Your truth and teach me, for You’re the God of my salvation. For You I wait all the day long.”
What David is saying is, “God, the problem’s not You. The problem’s me. I need help in doing these things. I need help in following through with these things.”
He says this in the midst of a difficulty. But, oftentimes, we jam up. We go, “Well, should I go to Publix? Maybe the Lord wants me to go to Trader Joe’s. Maybe He wants me to go to Whole Foods.”
Folks, go to the grocery store that you want to go to. “Should I use Aquafresh or Crest?” It’s like, “Use the one that you want to use.” He’s told you, O man, what He wants from you, but He’s also given you freedom, a mind and the ability to choose. He wants you to make some great moves. He wants you to make some mistakes. Not intentionally, but He uses that. When you’re living out your life for God, He will use both the good and the bad to teach you and to instruct you. Don’t get bogged down by the paralysis by analysis.
The fifth thing here, and the last one, is the life of faith, although not always readily understood — we don’t always understand what’s going on as we’re following Jesus. It’s still the best way. Of all the choices that you could make in life, following Jesus is the best decision that you could make. Here’s what David says. David says, “My eyes are towards the Lord. He’s going to pluck my feet out of the net.” In other words, “I know what the end game is.”
Can I tell you what the endgame is? The endgame is that for every single one of us in here, every trouble, every affliction, every problem, God is going to deliver you from them. It may be tomorrow. It may be today. It may be next week. It may be next year. It may be eternity. I can tell you I’ve read the end of the book. There’s a day where there are going to be no more tears, no more fears, no more wars, no more debt, no more sin, no more disease and none of that. The endgame is far better playing for than the immediate need right now.
Listen to how he ends the psalm.
“Guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”
When you read Bible stuff, usually they start with something and they end with something. The main point of the psalm here is deliverance. I don’t have time to get into all that. It’s more academic.
“Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you. May integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for you.”
Taking refuge, waiting and not being put to shame. David is saying, “Even in the life of being stuck in this world, this is the way I live. It’s the life of faith.”
He says, “Redeem Israel, O God, out of all his troubles.”
And He will. He will deliver every one of us out of those troubles. So, what we see here in this psalm is actually beautiful. It’s a man who is bogged down and stuck in life, but he teaches us the way of faith. He teaches us the way to embrace life with trust in God, God’s character and who God is in living that through. And I’ll tell you what: If we lived that way, everybody in our lives would be asking us what we’ve got, because they want it. And that’s the beauty of Psalm 25. But I know many of you are probably struggling in life right now and are going through difficulty. So, I want to do this. If you would, would you bow your heads with me and close your eyes? If you’re struggling in life, if you’re just like, “You know what? That read my mail today. That’s definitely not the way I’ve been doing it. I’ve been complaining, got all kinds of stuff and trying to figure out how I can get God to do this for me and everything else. What I just read today, man, that’s not exactly where I was at.”
What I want you to do is this. If you’re struggling in life, you’ve heard this today and it’s made you think and it’s challenged you a little bit, would you just put your hand over your heart? I’m not going to embarrass you in any way. Put your hand over your heart. Nobody’s going to come and visit you or anything like that. Put your hand over your heart. I want you to pray with me. You don’t have to pray these exact words, but you could pray something similar to this.
Just say, “Dear Heavenly Father, I’m stuck in life right now. There’s no doubt about it. I didn’t come in here by accident. I’m here for a reason. But Lord, I’ve not really been embracing my difficulties in being stuck in the way I just read this passage. But Lord, I want to. That’s where my heart’s at. Something spoke to me today. I want to live that life. God, I believe, but help my unbelief. God, build some faith in me. Build some character in me to trust You, to believe that You are all I need in this particular moment. You will deliver me. I could have faith and I can trust You, God. Let that be the case. Lord, I want to lay all this stuff on the ground here today as I walk out of here. God, I want to walk out of here believing that my eyes are ever towards the Lord and He is going to pluck my feet out of that net. I believe that, Lord. Faith is arising in my heart. Lord, I trust You right now. I believe in You right now. I know that You’re the God who spoke the world into existence and no problem is too difficult for You, Lord. I know that You can do exceedingly, abundantly above all that I could ever ask or think. Lord, I’m praying right now, in Jesus’ name, that I would start to live this thing out with a life of faith. Not a life of doubt, not a life of fear, not a life of anxiety, but trusting You that You are who and what I need, and I can trust You because of Your character. I can trust You because I know that You redeem all of us out of our troubles. Lord, let that be a reality in my life. Let that be a reality in the life of everyone here in this church. For Your glory and for Your honor.”
So, Lord, as we walk out of here today, I pray that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us. I pray that You would watch over us and protect us. I pray that You would bring you back safely to when we meet again. And I pray, Lord, that You would continue to help us as a church to stay focused on what You’ve called us to be, and that’s a church that reaches the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Lord, we love You, we thank You, we praise You and we honor You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”
Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.