By Meg Bucher, Crosswalk.com
“Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name” (Psalm 86:11).
Junior high is awkward. Growth spurts are revealed by embarrassing trips into lockers and embarrassing tumbles in the middle of crowded hallways. Growing pains hurt!
David wrote Psalm 86 as an outcrying prayer to God, and in the midst of it we find verse 11. It is a vow to praise God and a prayer for godliness (NIV). David pleaded for God to teach him how to rely on His faithfulness, and for an undivided heart to fear God’s name. Fear in this instance, and often in the Bible, means a deep reverence and respect for who God is. Salvation launches the beginning of an awkward stage of development, comparable to the physical adjustments we have to make to our bodies in junior high.
Our souls are wired to seek God, but our flesh battles for control. The world begs us to consider and adopt its policies, and a spiritual war wages beyond what we consciously see. Thankfully, the power of God trumps adolescent hormones and awkward growth spurts. As we grow in our faith, there will be seasons when we’re comfortable in our own skin, only to be met with another grow spurt. On and on, in a process called sanctification, from the day we accept Christ as our Savior until the day we arrive home in heaven for eternity, we are growing and maturing.
Not all of the lessons are easy to learn, nor are many of the growth spurts of our souls amiable to adjust to. We will trip and fall through life as we follow Christ because we are human. He knew it when He died on the cross for us, and patiently remains with us as we shake one earthly tendency after another off of our backs as we run the race He’s assigned us in this life.
Long races can feel lonely, especially when we lose touch with the pack. Stride after stride, we may feel alone and unable to continue. We may be tempted to stop because we feel no one would notice. Perhaps the brevity and depth of David’s prayer comes out of a moment when he himself realized the gravity of his waywardness – both his inability to keep up and the reality that he had lost touch with the pack. In these moments of our lives, this prayer is a powerful weapon to remind us who we are …and Whose we are.
“Teach me your way, LORD,” David prayed, “that I may rely on your faithfulness.” David knew he couldn’t rely on his own abilities to keep moving forward. Nor can we. We are constructed of the same weak flesh, however also given the same equipping power of the Holy Spirit. “Give me an undivided heart,” David pleaded, “That I may fear your name.” A divided heart trips over temptation.
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When we are young, our parents and caregivers use the power of repetition to teach us important lessons and to help us acquire basic knowledge. God has given us the instruction we need, repetitively throughout His word. An undivided heart is developed in those who repeatedly seek Him in His Word. The Bible is the Holy Word of God, alive and active in our lives. God promises when we seek Him with all of our hearts, we will find Him. “In order to begin to understand the sovereignty of the Lord,” Moody Bible Commentary explains, “it is essential to know Him better daily by obeying the instruction.”
To teach is to “impart knowledge or skill.” Good parents and caregivers make an effort to ensure their children are developing a good sense of wisdom to discern the difference between what is good and what is not. Our faithful Father in heaven provides us with everything we need, and providentially goes before us to ensure we have what we do not know we will ever need. “What would be the benefit if God were to save him from his enemies but abandon him in his own waywardness?” the NIV Study Bible explains. “David’s dependence on God is complete, and so is his devotion to God- save me from the enemy outside but also from my frailty within.”
The Author of our days and the One who knows their number is faithful to help us through awkward growth spurts. There is a reason I compassionately relate to the awkward trips, falls, and embarrassments of junior high kids. In my own life, I still endure many awkward moments. Times when I put my foot in my mouth, or wish I would have so I wouldn’t have let it run out of control. I trip and fall over obvious obstacles. We all experience the awkwardness of being human, every day.
We can smile and know God’s love for us never fades. Even when we turn from Him rebelliously, He patiently waits for us to turn to Him again with open arms. He always forgives, and never loves less. None of us can avoid the awkward growing pains. Instead of hiding in embarrassment, we can find camaraderie in the community of believers seeking Christ alongside us.
David’s prayer as it relates to us today is to become Christ-centered in the way we live our daily lives. When we aim to mature in our faith, we realize how faithful He is to bless our lives with a pack of Christ centered people to run the race with. In the gaps, when we feel we are running alone, keep striding on, knowing there is another pack we are assuredly closing in on. Keep going. Keep growing …with an undivided heart sold out to Christ.
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Meg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and golden doodle.