I’m not a fan of rhyming unless I’m writing a song but I thought perhaps it would add a tiny amount of amusement to a semi-morbid post on depression. Okay… So maybe it’s not as funny as I thought it would be.
This morning I listened to Mike Bickle’s message on encountering God in depression. I think most of us have experienced times of despair and depression… or maybe I’m just saying that to make myself feel better. Just imagine a really crappy modern scenario and you might begin to understand what David was feeling when he hid in the cave of Adullam. Imagine you ran from your murderous wife and all of your friends have abandoned you because they’re too scared she’ll come after them with a butcher knife too! On top of that you’ve been fired from your job and there is little hope that your career as CEO of the most powerful company in the world will be renewed. Your house was foreclosed on and now you are living in a cardboard box in Bedford Sty and your only friends are a band of raggedy, wild hobos who have been discarded by society and no one… absolutely no one understands what you are going through… well except for God, of course. But does He really understand? Because you haven’t been feeling Him around lately. You haven’t heard any direction from Him. You haven’t heard Him speak words of hope to you in a long, long time. His presence doesn’t seem to be a part of your daily routine anymore. So maybe He doesn’t understand. Oh happy day!
Who wouldn’t be depressed after something like this? I have to say, I have had a few moments in my life similar to this and I have to consider that God might be using these situations to train me and strengthen me for greater things. In Psalm 142, David is clearly depressed. This Psalm sounds like a great big complaint. A list of whines to God. But as Mike says in his message, it’s better to complain to God than complain to man. When we complain to man it’s sin but when we complain to God, it’s called prayer. Throughout his Psalms David repeats over and over who God is to Him, even in the midst of terrible events. He cries out to God to deliver him from those that are pursuing him and finally, he declares his future promises over his own life.
Because of Saul, David wonders if his promise to be king will ever be fulfilled. He wonders if God has broken his promise as Saul doesn’t seem to think David will ever be king while he’s alive. In the midst of pain, depression, and despair don’t allow ANYONE to tell you the promises spoken over your life are not from Him. In fact, during these moments use those promises and prophecies to keep you pushing forward. That’s what prophecy is for! And most importantly, say out loud who God is to you. He is your refuge, your strength, your deliverer, your defender, your high tower, and your peace. Pour out your complaints before Him and watch as He meets you in the center of them.
Fear is probably the most dominant struggle I have in my life. Having the fear of man has become so extreme that it has begun to rule many areas of my life… much to my chagrin. After reading my previous post, I realized that I sounded a bit trite when talking about difficulty and that maybe I sounded as if turning to God during painful seasons was a SUPER easy thing to do. Well let me explain further that it is NOT one of my greatest skills. But I have also learned that if I continue to put off turning to the Lord during difficulty and try to take matters into my own hands, my spirit begins to diminish and my heart will become weak.
I think most of us can understand the pain of the pressure that comes from fear. I remember feeling pain from others that was so great at times that I gave into relieving myself from it in a way that was just as ungodly as their behavior towards me. King David did this as well when he ran from Saul. When the prophet Gad told him to go to Judah, David didn’t remain there because of fear but instead found refuge in Gath, an enemy city. Instead of using the pressure of fear to drive him into the arms of Abba, David fled to a much more unsafe place, thinking Saul’s own fear would keep him out of Gath. Instead, David found himself in more trouble… just because He did not trust in God’s faithfulness and justice.
I can describe some of those moments, like the one I had last night, where I knew that my only choice in moments of distress was to cry out to God for answers… to acknowledge my own inadequacy and brokenness before Him. I had to make a choice to trust Him instead of turning to ungodly slander (which I haven’t even come close to succeeding in previously) or some other method that would bring me comfort. I had to have the fear of the Lord that I would be disciplined for lack of obedience if I did not come under His righteousness. And finally, I had to learn to enjoy Him in the process of restoration. All of these things I am still coming to understand and just beginning to learn how to walk in.
So I’m challenging the rest of you out there to do the same. Take the opportunity, in moments of fear, to turn your face toward Him, to cling to Him with all of your strength. Don’t run to the TV, your many social networking sites, or your cell phone and start texting a bunch of gossip. Take hold of Him!!! When you feel that discomfort or accusation from others, acknowledge your fear to Jesus and ask the Holy Spirit who lives inside of you to rise up and take over your heart. He is faithful to conquer and to comfort all fear!
During the Jesus Movement, my dad, who had been saved for probably two years at this point, would go down to the local park where all of the homeless hippies would gather and live. He would minister to them, talk to them about Jesus, and invite them to a Bible study at his house where a massive move of God was happening. My grandparents basement would have upwards of 500 hippies every Thursday night who were hungry for Jesus. At this particular park there was a warlock (male witch) who would walk around, intimidate and harass the people in the park. Most of the hippies were scared of him and the supposed power he held.
One day this warlock confronted my dad. “This is my territory. You need to go,” the man said.
My dad responded , “this is a public park. You don’t own it and you don’t have authority over me.”
At this point, a crowd began to gather around the two, literally opposing forces. “If you don’t leave, I’m going to put a curse on you.” This guy wasn’t playing. He was known for putting powerful curses on his enemies.
“You just try. Greater is He that is in me than He that is in the world.” My dad looked him in the eye without flinching, standing his ground. The man immediately backed up and ran for his car. As he drove away he stuck his head out the window chanting and doing strange things with his hands. The crowd, in the meantime, cheered and clapped that this scary person was finally gone from their park.
One week later the man was arrested for dealing drugs. Two months after that he died in prison. That’s what happens when you come against the people of God, I guess. It might not happen immediately but believe me… it’s gonna happen.
I thought about this story as I was listening to Mike’s message on the Spirit of Might which you can find HERE. One thing that struck me about David was that his courage flowed from his relationship with God. It really was a powerful spirit working in David to kill the lion, the bear, and then eventually Goliath. This strength wasn’t derived from David’s own ability. It wasn’t courage drummed up by his own pride and arrogance. It wasn’t fueled from bitterness or his flesh. It was pure God which gave Him the power to defeat his enemies.
When we know who we are to God and we are confident in how He feels toward us, lack of courage will not be a problem. We will know when we hear from God to confront our enemies and we will know when our boldness is truly from Him.
God doesn’t see as man sees. Imagine yourself as an older brother with several runts below you in age and stature. A famous prophet comes to your parents home looking to anoint a new king. Of course, you’ll get the title. The king is ALWAYS the firstborn. Everybody knows this. There is no question that you are the most qualified. But instead the prophet comes, sizes you up, and moves to the next oldest brother… then the next… then the next… then the next. After he has made his way down the row (and you are still seething that he did not choose you at first glance) the prophet asks where your very youngest brother is. The puny little brother, David. This is the brother that is so below you that his job in the family is to hang out with the smelly sheep all day, which was almost equivalent to a slaves position in that day. You try to rationalize why in the world God would choose David, of all people, and you finally come to the conclusion that the only reason David is chosen is because he’s a good-lookin’ kid… which makes you even more angry. So what do you do to make yourself feel better? You accuse him of pride and arrogance. I mean who does he think he is? He thinks he’s soooooo spiritual hanging out in the fields singing to God all day. He really thinks he’s something else. Spiritual pride. That’s what David has.
…… and this is the reason God did not choose Elia, David’s older brother. In fact, Elia had the same spirit as that of Saul, the current wicked king. What a train wreck Israel would be if Elia had gotten the position that he had wanted. He was full of jealousy and pride, himself… and God knew exactly what the state of his heart was.
David, on the other hand, had qualities that his family refused to acknowledge. But God saw them and chose Him because of these qualities. God looked at David’s heart and his family rejected him for it. God saw that David’s desire was to please Him and Him alone. His desire was to be holy… to not trust in his own accomplishments or talents but to trust that everything he had was given to him by God. David sought the Lord instead of the power and prestige of man. God chose David for His own pleasure. He knew David loved to sit under the pleasure of God and He knew David was grounded in the identity of His delight. This is what God looks for in a leader.
Over and over I have seen God choose those that others have rejected. In fact, in most cases, God chooses on purpose, and anoints those that have experienced rejection… at least the ones that refuse to have a bitter spirit. I have seen it in my own family, in fact. My great-grandfather, John Turner, was rejected and kicked out of his own home… he was ostrasized from His family as David was because of his true encounter with the living God. God went on to choose my great-grandfather to be the first spirit-filled missionary to northern India where the Lord used him to bring many to Jesus. Joseph, in the Bible, was rejected by his family and accused of pride. Every single one of the true prophets of Israel were rejected because of their rebukes to the leaders of Israel and accused of pride… and often murdered for speaking truth.
Bob Sorge in his book Dealing with Rejection and the Praise of Man, says that if you have a prophetic call on your life, chances are you will be rejected time and time again by religious leaders. Rejection is a training period for those who have a prophetic identity.
I know in moments of rejection in my own life… and I am currently still dealing with some of it that has happened recently… I have to really run to the Lord to learn how to walk out love and to continue to position my heart before the Lord, being careful not to grow bitter or to allow offense in my heart. It is rather difficult and I have repeatedly messed up but I know that without allowing the Lord to change my heart and help me to grow in love, I will not be pleasing to the Lord.
So I’m beginning a series that Mike Bickle taught on the Life of David. You can find these teachings HERE. I’m putting my Jeremiah studies on the back-burner for awhile because I feel that I am in a season where I could learn a lot from this great King of Israel. So though I am going to get right back into Jeremiah when I’m done, I felt like this study is a necessary precursor.
I think a lot of times we can see something that is truth… but our reaction will still not be a godly reaction because our heart is not aligned with His. In his first session, Mike talks about how David first and foremost had a revelation of God’s heart and an understanding of what God’s heart is like. And because of this, He had a desire to obey God’s heart. That makes sense, you know? Before we can be really obedient to God, we need to really understand how God feels and what His heart is for the situations and people around us. An understanding of His heart is the motivation we need to remain in obedience. If we don’t carry ourselves with the heart of God, even though we may be walking in truth, we can do more damage than good in some cases. I know I have been guilty of this. It’s human nature and that’s why our lives have to be a constant discovery of the facets of who God really is.
Saul and David were two very different characters in the history of Israel. As Bickle explains, Saul was a form of judgment on the nation of Israel for walking outside the will of God. They demanded a king before it was time for them to have a king and thus were rewarded with a demonized king. God already had in mind to put David on the throne because He knew that David had a heart after Him. However, God used the tyranny of Saul as a training period for David to be the best King he could be. Good leaders are often bred under situations like David’s. How absolutely terrifying this truth is! The trick here is to make sure that our heart for the Lord remains the same as David’s does during those awful periods of time. David made a lot of mistakes during this time but when he made mistakes his grief was more about how he had offended God than how he had been exposed… which was very unlike Saul’s reaction who really just cared about preserving himself.