Smudge Be Gone!

“The enemy has pursued my soul;
    he has crushed my life to the ground;
    he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit faints within me;
    my heart within me is appalled.

I remember the days of old;
    I meditate on all that you have done;
    I ponder the work of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
    my soul thirsts for you like a parched land.

Answer me quickly, O Lord!
    My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
    lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
    for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
    for to you I lift up my soul.

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!

For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
    In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
    and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
    for I am your servant.” Psalm 143:3-12

The pale sky was smudged with charcoal, bad make-up on an otherwise lovely face of a new day. Why is it the grey gets all the attention, and threatens to darken my outlook with brooding? Isn’t life more pleasant when all is bright and clear and everyone is nice?

Mindset can be a struggle. The Lord has created us with intelligence, great sensitivity to our surroundings, and emotion to respond. Recognizing the enemy and acknowledging his efforts to upend us helps us know how to combat his wiles. Remembering our Lord’s past faithfulness and reaching out for his present aid helps to direct the path out of our shadows. We choose to lift our souls to Him or our hands in rage, to serve him rather than our feist and feelings.

With what do we regularly fill our minds? Responsibilities nag, and demand attention. Troubles niggle and take up space with worry. People pop in and out and dance the perimeter, taking big chunks of concentration, affection, and consternation. Every interruption, vista, and question pulls on another set of nerve strings. If we voice these concerns to our Lord, He hears, makes sense of them all, and returns to us a psalm to sing.

Smudge or no smudge, we can train our minds to be fixed on high. The discipline of heavenly-mindedness and setting our hearts with Christ on His throne will remove the shadows in daily perspective. Seeing everything that comes our way through the lens of our risen King flushes it with His sovereignty and graces it with His love. We begin to recognize His fingerprints, and think His thoughts. (Colossians 3:1-2).

“May the mind of Christ, my Savior, 
Live in me from day to day,
By his love and pow’r controlling 
All I do and say.

May the word of God dwell richly 
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph 
Only through his pow’r.

May we run the race before us, 
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus 
As we onward go.” ~Katie B. Wilkinson (1925)


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