When the Upright Get Uptight – Part 3

The Solution to It, pt 2
Psalm 37

1Fret not thyself because of evildoers, neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity. 2For they shall soon be cut down like the grass And wither as the green herb. 3Trust in the LORD and do good; So shall thou dwell in the land and verily thou shall be fed. 4Delight thyself also in the LORD; And He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.  5Commit thy way unto the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  6He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light And thy judgment as the noonday. 7Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; Fret not thyself because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.

Sometime ago I was watching television, and following the news there came on this little spot advertising the Unity religion.  Ever so often, they will come on television with a 60-second spot, featuring a movie star or some other celebrity.  They start by saying, today, the word from Unity is—and then there will be a word like attitude, or perseverance.  It is a little pop psychology.  This particular night, this movie actress came on and said, today, the word from Unity is joy.  She talked about joy, and how joyful joy is, and how important it is.  She finished with this statement:  If you have lost your joy, get it back.  I sat there and thought, old dumb me, that never occurred to me.  Why didn’t I think of that?  All I had to do is get my joy back.

Of course, the problem was that she didn’t tell me how to do it.  That is the problem with most advice.  The world tells us to fly but doesn’t give us any wings.  People say don’t worry.  Thanks a lot.  What is it that I’m not supposed to worry about?  It’s like the doctor saying, I don’t want you to worry.  That makes me worry.   Sometimes people find themselves in great distress and succumb to some real dark, black periods of depression and other people don’t understand.  They say, just get your act together.  Shape up, get with it.  I wish it was that easy.

One of the things I appreciate so much about the Bible is that when the Bible tells us to do something, it goes on and tells us how to do it.  One of the things that you and I need to remember is that the Bible never commands us to do anything that we cannot do.  When the Lord gives us a command, he imparts to us the ability to obey that command.

For instance, Jesus stood before the tomb of Lazarus.  He said, Lazarus, come forth.  Don’t you think that’s asking quite a bit of that fellow?  Lazarus is dead.  That’s an impossible command.  If Lazarus could have come forth, he would have done it before now.  He gave an impossible command to come forth, but Lazarus did.  Why?  Because when Jesus gave the command, he also imparted to Lazarus the ability to obey that command.

He said to man who was crippled for 38 years, take up thy bed and walk.  That is asking a lot of a crippled man.  But he did.  He said to the man with the withered arm, stretch forth thy hand.  That’s something you can’t do with a withered arm; you can’t stretch it forth.  But he did.  When the Lord commands us to do something, we ought to look upon that as a promise because God will not command us to do something that is beyond our capacity by his grace to do.

When I open this psalm and read these first words, fret not thyself, it is like saying don’t worry.  There is no more useless, impossible advice in the world than telling somebody not to worry, not to fret.  How do you do that?  The Bible doesn’t stop there.  It goes on to give us what I am calling some alternatives to fretfulness.  First of all, we understand that even though we are saved, we are subject to these things.  We do come to moments in life where there is an angry frustration in our hearts.  We feel there is a general uneasiness about our lives.  We get the idea that sometimes God is not answering our prayers, or God is not righting all the wrongs in our lives.  The Psalmist gives us four alternatives found in verses 3, 4, 5, and 7:

Trust in the Lord and do good.  Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give you the desires of your heart.  Commit your way unto the LORD.  Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for him.  These four are what I would call the alternatives to fretfulness.  In other words, the Lord is saying that he doesn’t want you to allow yourself to be carried away with fear and anxiety.  Rather…. trust in the Lord and do good.  Trust in the Lord includes them all.

We come now to these three which are the expressions of trust.  Trust is like a nut.  You open it up, and on the inside you’ll find delighting, committing, and resting.  They are the expressions of trust, the ingredients of trust.  God tells me to trust in him.  What am I to do?  Delight yourself in the Lord; commit your way unto the Lord, and rest in the Lord.
1)  Delight thyself in the Lord.

In verse 4 the Psalmist says:  Delight thyself also (The word also is very important because it ties it into what has just been said in verse 3:  trust in the Lord and do good.) in the LORD ( involved in this trusting is delighing thyself also in the Lord); And He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.

This is a famous promise, one that we love, and quote very often.  I think though sometimes we quote that verse like this:  If you will just delight yourself in the Lord, bless your heart, God will give you whatever your little old heart desires.  If you want a new Cadillac, delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you a cadillac.  If you want a new home, delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you a new home.  I’m not saying that’s not true.  I’m not saying if you delight yourself in the Lord, God won’t give you the desires of your heart.  What I am saying is that I think the Psalmist had something just a little bit different in mind when he wrote those words.  I don’t think he was saying here is an easy, quick way for you to get whatever you want in your life.  I think it goes deeper than that.  That is a superficial interpretation of that verse, and it goes far beyond that.  Delight thyself in the Lord, and he will give you a heart that is satisfied.  He will give you a heart that is at rest.  He will give you a heart that has its desires met.

There’s a question I have to ask about this.  What in the world does this have to do with worry?  What does this have to do with fretfulness?  The Psalmist is trying to help me not to fret, to overcome this frustration, anger and anxiety.  He says to delight myself in the Lord.   That leads to another question.  Why are you fretting?  Why are you upset?  Why are you uptight?  What is it that you are worrying about, and why are you worrying about it?

Isn’t it true that when we are uptight about something,  it’s because a source of our joy is in jeopardy.  After all, the only reason I’m worrying about this is that I know if it comes to pass, I can’t be as happy as I am now.   This is going to make me miserable.  There is a source of my joy, the delight of my heart that is in jeopardy.   So, he says you need to delight yourself in the Lord.  You need to find a source of joy that nothing can ever touch.  The reason I’m upset and anxious about something is because one of my wells of joy is about to run dry.  The Psalmist says you need to find a well of joy that will never run dry—even in the worst of droughts.

Let me show you what I’m talking about.  What are the basic things that gives us our joy in life?   I thought about this and came up with five.  You might come up with six or seven or more.  1)  The basic source of my joy is life—the fact that I’m alive.  I’m glad to be alive so that is naturally a source of joy.  2)  The second source of my joy is my health.  I may not have perfect health, but I thank God I’m healthy enough to be here today.  3)  My wife and children are a source of joy—one of the biggest wells of all.  4)  My parents.  My mother died a few years ago.  My father is still alive.  I would have to say he is a source of joy to me.  5)  My job, my occupation.  Thank God, it is always nice when you enjoy doing what you have to do.  I get a great deal of joy out of my vocation.  I don’t think I could be nearly as happy if I were not doing what I’m doing.  Wouldn’t you agree with me that these are pretty basic to all of us.  You feel like no matter what else goes wrong in life, if you have these, there can be joy.  The scary thing is that every one of those things is fragile.  I know I’m going to die someday if the Lord tarries.  I know my health is going to deteriorate.  My wife will die or divorce me.  My children are going to get married and go off.  I know my parents are going to die.  I will lose them.  One of these days I’ll have to retire, or maybe disability will force me to retire.

The scary thing about life is that one phone call can destroy everything.  Do you realize we are skating on thin ice?   That’s why I always say the scariest sound in all the world is a phone ringing after midnight.  I need to find a source of joy that’s not quite so temporary, not quite so fragile.  That is what the Psalmist is saying.  There’s not anything wrong in rejoicing in your life, your health, your family, your parents, and your job.  There’s nothing wrong at all in enjoying the things that God has given you. But,  God have mercy on us if these are the extent of our joy.  Every one of them is fragile and temporary.

The Psalmist is saying that you need to find your delight in the Lord.   You need a well of joy so that if all the other wells run dry, there’s one well that will not leave you without joy.  You’ll not be left without peace and contentment.    I have sat with many people who have suffered the loss of all things, and yet had this unspeakable, incomprehensible joy.  I don’t mean they were jumping up and down and laughing.  There was something that the thieves couldn’t break in and steal, something that the rust could not corrode, something that the moths could not eat through.  They had something that nobody could touch.

I always like to give this disclaimer.  I’m not saying that if you’ll come to these services and take notes and do what I say, you can go out of here and never fret again. No, it doesn’t come that easily.  You do not acquire the conviction of values by intellectual debate.  We grow into and learn these things.  I am not talking about push, pull, click, click, become Spirit-filled that quick.  I am not talking about little formulas that make your life different from then on out.  These are things that God wants to build into us.

My first recognition is that I do know I’m in trouble if I don’t have something more substantial to joy in than the things of this world.  I can be like the Apostle Paul, sitting in the Roman jail cell, not knowing if he will live or die, saying that I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content—satisfied—a heart at rest.

When Nelson Rockefeller died, a dear friend of his wrote an article in the New York City Times entitled, “A Sense of Incompleteness.”  He said that Rockefeller with all his millions, vice-president of the United States, governor of the state of New York, lived all of his life frustrated.  He died an incomplete man.  I thought that was a sad epitaph.  You would think if $700 million couldn’t make you complete, nothing could.

Then I read in Genesis that when Abraham died, he died full of years, and satisfied.  I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.  I’ve discovered something.  There is a well of joy that never runs dry.  That’s what the Psalmist is saying.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you a heart that is delighted and satisfied.

2)  Commit thy way unto the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.  First of all, delight yourself in the Lord.  Find in the Lord your source of joy because you can have all of God that you want.  You can’t have all of the money, health,  and years you want, but you can have as much of God as you want.  There is not anything that can affect that relationship.

We use this verse many times like this:  It’s a new day, and I have to go out and do my job.  Lord, before I walk out the door today, I commit my way to you.  That is a good thing to do.  Again, that is not exactly what the Psalmist is talking about.  He is talking about something far more than that.  Coming back again to the graphic picture of the Hebrew language, the word commit means to roll.  To commit your way unto the Lord is to roll your way onto the Lord.  It is the picture of a man who is carrying a burden.  This burden is so heavy on his shoulders that it is making him stoop down.  The Psalmist is saying that you have too big a load.  Take that load and roll it onto the Lord.  This thing you are carrying around is one of the reasons you are fretting and anxious.

I think the real key to understanding what he is saying is found in the word way.  It literally means a well-trodden path.  It’s not the way you are going to walk today; it’s the way you walk everyday.

One translation reads like this:  Commit your career unto the Lord.  Another reads:  Commit your reputation to the Lord.  My own translation and I think the word that best describes it is this:  Commit your lifestyle to the Lord.  He is not just saying the way you are going to walk today, the business you are going to do today (that’s included), but you need to commit your lifestyle, reputation, career, that well-trodden path, the life you are accustomed to living to Him, (we get our lives fitting like an old easy chair or a good pair of shoes that have been broken in—comfortable).    Why?  What does this have to do with worry?  What does this have to do with fretfulness?

Maybe we should ask another question.  Why are you fretting?  Why are you worrying?  Could it be that the reason you are worrying is that if this continues or comes to pass it is going to hurt your career, your reputation, make you change your lifestyle?  I don’t want to have to do that.  I like my lifestyle.  I have a comfortable way of living, and I wouldn’t want to drastically change it.

I’ll use a silly illustration.  Back in the 70s when they had the oil embargo, it made me nervous.  I knew when gasoline got up to the outrageous price of 45 cents a gallon, my lifestyle was going to have to change.  It upset me to no end.  When President Ford started talking about carpooling, and not driving your car around for pleasure anymore, I didn’t like that..  That made me uptight.  I was worried about high prices.  Why?  It was changing my lifestyle, and I didn’t want to change my lifestyle.  I like the way I’m living.  There are changes I would make, but when there is something looming on the horizon and it comes to pass, I am going to have to give up something.  The Psalmist is saying that I should try to become invulnerable.  Take all those things that are  vulnerable to the changes in this life, and do something about it.  Get you something that is not vulnerable.  Delight yourself in the Lord.  Commit your way unto the Lord.

Let me put it this way.  He says, take your reputation, your career, your lifestyle (you are uptight because it is in jeopardy), and say, Lord, you handle it.  You carry it for awhile.  Sometimes when we are worried about something, it’s not so much the thing itself that we are worried about as it is the effect that thing will have on my lifestyle, my career, or my reputation.

I was in the supermarket not long ago, and there was a mother doing some shopping with her little boy.  There is not anything little boys love more than to go shopping with their mother.  He was growing weary, and began to fuss.   He wanted to go home.  She tried to hush him up.  The more she tried to hush him, the louder he got.  Some of you know exactly what I’m talking about, don’t you.   I’ve had the same thing happen.  Bless her heart, I knew what she was doing.  Before it was over, there was murder in that mother’s eyes.  You could see it. That boy was screaming and making a fuss.  Everybody was looking.

Now, let me ask you a question.  What do you think was really bothering that woman.  That her boy was screaming?  No, he does that at home all the time.  She probably ignores him at home.  Do you know what was really making her angry?  Everybody’s looking.  What kind of mother do they think I am?  I know what they are saying:  you can’t handle your own child.  You and I have said that, haven’t we?  When somebody comes over to visit, and they bring a child along who jumps on the furniture, you  say, I would like to get hold of that child.   They can’t handle their children. Am I telling the truth?  It’s not so much the things itself, the situation or circumstance, that has us uptight; it’s the effect that it will have on our reputation, our career, our lifestyle.

Several years ago I was in a meeting in a church I’d been in before.  One night a mother came up to me and asked to talk to me.  We visited, and she told me her husband had abandoned her, left her a number of years ago, and she had been left alone to raise her boy who was then about 16 years old.  This was back in the early 70s when the long hair was popular, and he was strung out on drugs.  Her boy was doing the whole thing, and she was heartbroken over it.  I told her I would be glad to talk to her but she really needed to talk to her pastor because I would be gone in a few days.   She said she had talked to him and he told her if she had been the kind of Christian mother she should have been, her boy would never have turned out this way.  That must have been a real blessing to her.  The unfortunate and ironic thing about this is that about two or three ears later, the pastor’s son did the same thing.

When that happens, one of two things can happen.  It can either humble you, which is good, or it can humiliate you, which is not good.  In this case, it humiliated the pastor.  Do you know what he did?   He quit the ministry.  I knew him.  I’m not saying that man was not concerned about his son.  What I am saying is that the thing that destroyed him was not so much the problem of his son, but the effect it had on his reputation. What made him uptight and frustrated to the point of anger was his concern about what people would think about him.

The Lord is saying your reputation is a heavy burden to be carrying around with you.  That will make you uptight.  Why don’t you just let me handle that?  There is a special promise attached to this one.  There is a promise attached to all of them, but this one has another one that takes up a whole verse.  In verse 6 he says:  He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the light and thy judgment as the noonday.  Do you know what he is talking about there?  Vindication.  He is saying, commit your way unto me, trust also in me, and I’ll bring it to pass.  I’ll bring forth your righteousness as the light and your justice (what you are due) as the noonday.  I’ll see to it that everybody knows how righteous you are.  Don’t fret.  Don’t get yourself tied up in knots because you are afraid of what may happen to your reputation.  I will make your righteousness as the light and your justice shine as bright as the noonday.  You commit your way to me, and I’ll see that you are vindicated.

3)  Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.
Verse 7 says Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him.  So we have these four statements:  trust in the Lord, delight thyself also in the Lord, commit thy way unto the Lord, and rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him.  Again, the word rest means to be silent unto the Lord and wait patiently for him.

I want to put all this together, and paraphrase it to bring out what I think the Psalmist is saying.  Here you have a situation that is causing you to be fretful, fearful, and anxious.   Don’t fret.  Instead, trust in the Lord.  Delight yourself in me.  Roll your reputation, your lifestyle over and give it to me.  Be quiet, and give me a chance to work.  That’s a little harsh, but basically that is what he is saying.  Trust that thing to me, start trying to find delight in me, and commit the whole thing to me.  Then be quiet.  Quit your griping, murmuring, and complaining.  Quit telling me how to do it.  Be quiet, and give me a chance to work.  Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for him.  Give me a chance to do my work.

The real key there is to wait patiently.  I was afraid he was going to say something like that.  I always do real well on all these until I get to this one.  I don’t want to sound like a dictionary, but these words are so important.  The word translated wait patiently here means to turn in a circle.  It means to writhe and twist in pain.  Do you know how this word was originally used?  It was used for a woman in labor.  God has some sense of humor to take that word and use it for the word wait patiently, because there is not anything more painful in the world than waiting patiently.  Actually, waiting isn’t hard to do.   I guarantee you that if God delays, you are going to wait.  It is waiting patiently that is the key, the trick.  In the Bible when it talks about waiting patiently, it means waiting with anticipation, waiting with expectation.

We live in Irving, Texas, which is right next door to the DFW Airport.  What a blessing that is to us.  I can leave my house, and in ten minutes I can be checking into any major airline in the country.  It has been a lot of help to my wife to be so close.

When I am coming in on a late night flight, Kaye doesn’t have to drive an hour and a half across town.  I was coming back a few years ago on a flight from up north, flight 214, to arrive at midnight.  Kaye came to the airport, parked the car, went to the gate and waited.  Twelve o’clock came, but the airplane didn’t.  No big deal.  They are late ever once in awhile.  She waited  about thirty minutes, but still no flight 214.  The monitor had not changed information, so she went over to the man behind the desk and said, I am here to meet flight 214 that was supposed to be in at twelve o’clock.  It’s not here.  When do you expect it?  He said, oh, it will be another 30 minutes.  Check back with us later.  She waited another 30 minutes.  Now the plane is still not there and is an hour late.  She goes back to the man at the desk.  She said, I’m still waiting for flight 214.  When is it arriving?  He said, it looks like it will be another 30 minutes.  Check back with us.  She waited another 30 minutes, and it still wasn’t there.  Now it’s and hour and a half late.  She goes back to the man and says, when are you expecting flight 214?  The man said, well, I’m sorry but we can’t give you that information.  Check back with us later, please.  That sounded odd to her.  She went back to him and asked when flight 214 had left.  The man said, I’m sorry but we can’t give you that information.  Check back with us later, please.  You know what she was thinking, don’t you?  She knew that plane had gone down.  They had lost it on the radar and weren’t telling anybody.  Kaye doesn’t do well in that kind of situation.  She went backto the man.  By now he knew her.  She said, listen, flight 214.  I don’t want to know when it is going to get here, and I don’t want to know when it left.  Can you tell me one thing?  Is it in the air?  The man smiled and said, yes, it’s in the air.  Do you know what Kaye did?  She waited patiently.  Why?  She knew it was in the air.

There have been some times I’ve said to the Lord, can you tell me when my fight is going to come in?  Can you tell me when this is going to be over?  And he says, I’m sorry, son, but I can’t give you that information.  Well, Lord, can you tell me when this started and what’s going on.  He says, no, I’m sorry, but I can’t give you that information.  Lord, can you just tell me one thing?  Is it in the air?  And the Lord always says, yes, it’s in the air.  Then I can wait patiently.

Psalm 130 talks about waiting for the Lord.  It says:  those that wait for the Lord are as those who wait for the morning.  Two things about waiting for the morning:  sunrise.  One, you can’t rush it.  There is no way you can make it rise more quickly.  Second, it does rise.  It always rises.  Those that wait upon the Lord are like those who wait for the sunrise.  You cannot rush it, but you never wait in vain because the sun always rises.  When you wait upon the Lord, you never wait in vain.

I believe that God can take these things, beginning today, and build them into your life.


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