If you have never learned about the Ibex, this video is stunning and very helpful in understanding the Psalms’ prayer that God would give him hind’s feet.
Wasn’t that video from the BBC video amazing. Deer that can literally walk on the side of mountains. While I was in Israel, I was able to see the type of deer in the Middle East that have a similar ability. The deer are much more like a Ram. The Ibex. Here is a photo I took of one in the middle east. Imagine having the ability in life to jump and handle such rugged Terrain:
A Stable Footing Comes from an Unstable Craving
What do you have that can give you strength in unstable times?
Your parents relationship is deteriorating
Your health has some uncertainty
Your kids are not obeying like they used to.
Your spouse has changed since having kids… Since empty nest.
You feel stuck between raising teenagers and trying to find time to care for your parents who can’t drive and need help with the essentials.
You have a big deal that took a bad turn
You got a subpoena to appear in court.
You find yourself in new territory of temptation that is really drawing you in.
It’s during these times of instability, we long and look for something to anchor ourselves into. What can we anchor ourselves to that will sustain us, strengthen us, and help us in difficulty.
God offers us a stable footing in times of instability.
Let’s look at both aspects, a Stable Footing and an Unstable Craving.
I. A Stable Footing
Psalms 18:33 He makes my feet like the feet of deer, And sets me on my high places.
Here David described how God prepared him for battle, giving him strength, agility, and efficiency; how God gave him victory over his enemies, pursuing, crushing, and destroying them The predominant thought throughout these verses is that David attributed every ability and victory of his to the LORD. Everything he had done and everything he now enjoyed was due to the Lord’s enabling.
The picture above comes from En Gedi, the very area David wrote many of these psalms as he was hiding from Saul. He literally was hiding and lurking in the mountain caves hiding from an enemy out to get him. As he looked at the mountains all around him. All the jagged edges and points, David thought, “This is what life is like!! Tough, Rough, Difficult… I could ask God to “flatten the mountains in my life…” But Instead I am praying for Stable Feet. I want the ability to walk up cliffs.
Perhaps you remember the story of Terry Anderson from the Lebanon hostage situation…. He found that God and having others “suffering with him” was the secret to survival in the book SURVIVOR’S CLUB. God gave him stable footing in the most difficult situations.
The gun at his ear was the first clue, followed by a rough shove into the backseat of the green Mercedes. Terry Anderson remembers thinking: I am in deep shit. I am in real bad trouble. And it’s not going to be over soon. His instinct was absolutely right. The Associated Press correspondent in Lebanon would be blindfolded, chained to a wall, and held hostage for 2,454 days. Early on the morning of March 16, 1985, Anderson had just finished playing tennis with a friend in West Beirut. On a narrow road, he encountered three scruffy men with guns. “Get in. I will shoot,” one man said, pointing the pistol at his head. He hurled Anderson to the floor and threw an old blanket over him. After a short drive, Anderson was bound in tape, blindfolded with a filthy strip of cloth, and interrogated. Later he was chained to a steel cot with his hands and feet in shackles. He could not stand, let alone sit up straight. He was forced to relieve himself in a putrid plastic bottle next to the bed. After twenty-four days prostrate on the metal frame, Anderson thought he would go mad. He told one of his captors: “I can’t do this anymore. I’m not an animal. I am a human being. You can’t treat me like this.” “What do you want?” the guard asked. “A book. A Bible . . . You must loosen these chains. I will go crazy.” The next day, Anderson’s restraints were relaxed, and they brought him a brand-new red Bible. They let him take off his blindfold to read for thirty minutes. He savored the smell of the fresh ink, the new binding, and the first words of Genesis: In the beginning . . . When we speak, Anderson is finishing a home-cooked lunch of pasta and salad. He’s drinking a glass of South African pinotage, a red wine. He keeps seven hundred bottles in his cellar, and there’s room to grow. It can hold three thousand. He lives on a 250-acre ranch in Athens County, Ohio, where life is good.* He boards and trains about a dozen horses. Earlier in the morning, he tried to teach some manners to a two-year-old Missouri fox trotter named Scheherazade. Now he’s looking out over a two-acre pond, horse pastures, stables, and paddocks. I ask him how he and the other hostages survived all those days in captivity. “We all had to reach inside ourselves to ?and whatever we had,” he explains. “It is extraordinary what people are capable of doing.” A marine in Vietnam, Anderson was a correspondent on three continents and reported on every kind of natural and human disaster. In his long career in journalism, he regrets that he didn’t write more about ordinary people doing extraordinary things. His most fascinating laboratory was his captivity in Lebanon, where he met nine other hostages. He’s kept careful track of the others over the years. Of roughly twenty long-term hostages who made it home, Anderson says, one went straight to a mental hospital and never emerged while another spent ten years in and out of institutions. “All of us were damaged in some ways,” he says, “but I believe we have recovered well..” “Survival is one thing,” he continues. “Survival with grace and dignity is another.” Anderson believes one of the greatest surprises of his ordeal was the way his fellow hostages got through the very worst without compromising their decency and humanity. He remembers some of his worst days when he wanted to give up, when he couldn’t face any more abuse, isolation, or the revolting bowls of fatty lamb and rice. “I can’t do this, God,” he would say. “I’m finished. I surrender.” “But at the bottom,” he writes in his powerful memoir, Den of Lions, “in surrender so complete there is no coherent thought, no real pain, no feeling, just exhaustion, just waiting, there is something else. Warmth/light/softness. Acceptance, by me, of me. Rest. After a while, some strength. Enough, for now.” Anderson believes that he reached this state of grace once or twice. “A few hours later, it fades, and the anger and frustration and longing are back,” he writes. “But the memory is there, the sense of presence. And sometimes the place is reached again, briefly. Not often, but sometimes.
“Meanwhile, the hours are endured, the days gotten through. And the nights are spent in prayer, and thought, and the effort to get back to that place.” We all can find this kind of power in ourselves, Anderson believes. It’s there. Inside us. Waiting to be released.
Terry found that God’s word and God’s promises were the power he needed to have a stable footing. That is exactly what David is speaking about in this Psalms when God delivers him from an out of control jealous father in law who has been hunting him. David says that God’s word and way helped him know what to do
Psalms 18:28 -30
For You will light my lamp; The LORD my God will enlighten my darkness. For by You I can run against a troop, By my God I can leap over a wall. As for God, His way is perfect; The word of the LORD is proven; He is a shield to all who trust in Him.
David says that he can run against armies and leap over walls when he follows God’s way. Why is this so key… David has been hiding in a cave, Saul who is trying to kill him comes into the cave to use the bathroom. Talk about vulnerable. David pulls out his knife. His men give him the hand signal that says, “KILL HIM KILL HIM.” But david wants to do things God’s way, even in his difficult situation. He reaches out and -instead of stabbing Saul- he cuts off the corner of his garment. As Saul returns to the army, David will come out and say, “Look! I could’ve murdered you. I could’ve taken revenge. I could’ve been bitter for how you’ve treated me…. But I didn’t. I showed you grace by sparing your life. I gave you mercy. I did it God’s way. I am trying to operate my life according to God’s way and his will… And that is giving me a stable footing. Ironically, Saul had lost his way for not following God’s plan and instead held on to hatred and jealousy. The reason David cut the corner of his garment was very intentional. For a Jewish leader, they knew that obeying God meant that they were under the protection of God often described as being under the corner of his garment. David was saying, “you are not under God’s corner of protection by the way you are living.”
We all have something we look to for our footing. It’s the “thing” we go to for rest, comfort, and a sense of identity. We all sacrifice and lean in on everything. . There are people in the room who are saying, “I don’t want God. I want to be free” Don’t kid yourself. We all live for something. We sacrifice for it. You have to live for something. You are in service to something.
If our career is the footing, it will drive you into the ground.
If the love of one person is the security.. But if they fall apart.. it will devastate you… If they reject you, you fall apart.
If you say, “I am independent person” I don’t need God. I don’t need anything. You for my stability but myself. That means you are living for, and sacrificing for yourself. “I don’t give my heart to anyone and I belong to myself.” You will die lonely and will sacrifice to the altar of your own independence.
If you say, I live to help others and be a good person. What a great thing… But is that a stable footing? Are you good enough some of the time? All the time? Do you really live up to your own standards? If your footing is your good works, you’ll feel like a good honorable person at one moment, and then when you are not good, you’ll either be crushed, or you’ll justify your bad behavior, or become a perfectionist, or control freak, or give up from the pressure of trying to turn good works into a stabling footing.
General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) was an outstanding figure in the events during and after the Second World War. In early 1942, when leading outnumbered United States forces in the Philippines, General MacArthur prayed this prayer for his son Arthur many times during his morning devotions: “Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, and brave enough to face himself when he is afraid; one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory. Build me a son whose wishbone will not be where his backbone should be; a son who will know Thee and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge. Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail. Build me a son whose heart will be clean, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past. And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of a sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously. Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength.” DOuglas knew the importance of building into his son the importance of a STable Footing.
Grace from God is THE stable footing. God is infinitely kind, wise, and loving. And when your security and identity is anchored to Him. When you see that Christ died for you, gave you the gift of a new identity and acceptance before God. Now, let me clarify what the Bible says to make sure you hear how RADICAL it is. When you become a Follower of Christ, God accepts you RIGHT NOW as if you were perfect in his eyes. God doesn’t TAKE SAINTS, He makes saints. The Bible says that RIGHT NOW you can be seen as a saint in God’s eyes. God gives you the GIFT of sainthood. As weird as this might sound, Right now, I know God sees me as a saint. That gives me incredible footing, confidence, and boldness in my life. And yet, if I am tempted to get arrogant, egocentric, or take credit, the same gift immediately humbles me and says, “It was a gift, you were incapable of it on your own.” This is the stable footing that tells the person who is beating themselves up and has a bad self image that “Christ was beat up enough for you… You can stop.” Yes, there are bad things you’ve done that are probably worthy of being beat up for… But he took it. So be free from fear, self-hatred, and self loathing. you can be accepted RIGHT NOW based on Christ’s work. Do you see how stable, confidence and powerful this is. You have hind’s feet. You “stick” to the mountain because you know God is with you… Not in a “God is with everyone way” but a “God is living in me” because I invited him to way. You have hind’s feet because you don’t know “god loves everyone” so he loves me… That won’t change your heart. That’s a big yawner. You know this God died for you, chased after you, pursued you, and now lives in you because you received his gift of adoption, peace, joy, and death on the cross.
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