consider the lowly

Though I am lowly and despised,
I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is everlasting
and your law is true.
Trouble and distress have come upon me,
but your commands give me delight.
Your statutes are always righteous;
give me understanding that I may live.

Psalm 119:141-144


(the lowly sea cucumber, aka the lollyfish / Rosemary Beach / Julie Cook / 2019)

In the pecking order of the sea, I would imagine that a sea cucumber would be pretty much the lowest
of the low.
More slug than fish.
More bottom dweller than swimmer.
Living life on the ocean floor filtering out all the residue from one’s fellow creatures…

Wash up on the beach and you might be mistaken as the excrement from something else.

Not a glamours creature by any means.

We would never consider ourselves to be anything like a sea cucumber.
Lowly and ugly.
A bottom dweller.

But the introduction of sin has made man much lower than that of even a poor sea cucumber.

Pride may cloud the eye of man but sin clouds the sight of man from the eye of God …

“…the hyphenated sins of the human spirit.
They are not something we do, they are something we are, and therein lies both their
subtlety and their power. To be specific, the self-sins are these: self-righteousness, self-pity,
self-confidence, self-sufficiency, self-admiration, self-love and a host of others like them.
They dwell too deep within us and are too much a part of our natures to come to our attention
till the light of God is focused upon them. The grosser manifestations of these sins, egotism,
exhibitionism, self-promotion, are strangely tolerated in Christian leaders even in circles of
impeccable orthodoxy. They are so much in evidence as actually, for many people,
to become identified with the gospel.
I trust it is not a cynical observation to say that they appear these days to be a requisite for
popularity in some sections of the Church visible.
Promoting self under the guise of promoting Christ is currently so common
as to excite little notice.”

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

Sinfulness masking itself as self-promotion… or even worse…
masking itself as the seemingly self-righteous promoting of Christ when in actuality it is
an act that is merely self-serving…
an act that consists of self-promotion at the expense of Christ himself.
Merely using Christ as a tool for our own sense of selfishness, ego, and pride.

A sinful nature that makes us lowly…

And yet, it is in that lowliness where our hope is to be found and where it rests. …
hope in the lowliness of an open and admited humility…

Only in God is my soul at rest
In Him comes my salvation
He only is my Rock
My strength and my salvation

My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be afraid at all
My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be moved

Only in God is found safety
When the enemy pursues me
Only in God is found glory
When I am found meek and found lowly

My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be afraid at all
My stronghold my Savior
I shall not be moved

Only in God is my soul at rest
In Him comes my salvation

Lyrics by John Michael Talbot based upon Psalm 62

lowly

“Only in God is found safety
When my enemy pursues me
Only in God is found glory
When I am found meek and found lowly. . .”

Lyrics Only in God by John Michael Talbot
based on Psalm 62

DSC02507
(tiny toadstools / Troup Co / Julie Cook / 2015 )

DSC02506
(tiny toadstools / Troup Co / Julie Cook / 2015 )

How often do we as Christians, who are in this world yet not of the world, find ourselves in need of a source of strength, of a place of refuge or even a sanctuary of solace?
Most likely we have a church body, or a bible study, or a group of committed friends who are often our spiritual mainstay—the meat and potatoes of one’s faith.
Yet, for some of us, that is not the case and we may find that we are more alone than not, cast adrift as it were, floundering on the seas of the tempest of temptation and struggle.

No matter where we may find ourselves along our Christian journey, chances are we will find that there are those moments and times when we need, when we desperately long, to retreat inwards.
We yearn and need to seek a time of quiet—-a time for reflection, a time of prayer and a time of meditation.

For me it has been those stolen interludes, here and there over the years, of solitude when I could lose myself within the music of John Michael Talbot. Ever since I was a senior in high school, I have been drawn to the songs–to the lyrics of this rather unassuming musician.
A man whose soothing voice, as he is accompanied usually by only his guitar, would / could worshipfully sing the psalms.

There has always been a pinpoint accuracy to his simple songs of worship, adoration, imploring and lamentation. . .
Reverence, honor, genuineness and honesty.
Singing the psalms, as I imagine them to have been sung by a lone cloistered monk or nun in his or her cell, alone, lost in deep thought before both Savior and God.

I have written a previous post about John Michael Talbot and his music, as well as the impact it has had on my own spiritual journey.
https://cookiecrumbstoliveby.wordpress.com/2013/05/18/o-divine-master/

John Michael Talbot, who is more monk than anything else, is a Third Order Franciscan who lives, along with his wife, in a Catholic Community– The Little Portion Hermitage in Berryville, Arkansas.

http://littleportion.org

An odd place to find a cloistered community of both lay and religious folk alike who live in a place named for St Francis’s original cloistered community in Assisi, Italy—yet it is a comfort knowing that there are such places that exist in this ever maddening world of ours.

Psalm 62 has always been one of my favorite psalms as it speaks so rawly to my own inner struggles with the unseen God of my Salvation.
It is truly in Him where I find my rest.
It is to Him I run when the world has had its way with me–leaving me battered and bruised.
A stronghold and anchor in which I may tether myself as I wait out the storms of life.
He is always greater, while I am reminded that I am indeed, forever smaller.

Yet even in all of His greatness, He not only sees and notices, but He actually knows. . .me.
And it is during such times that I am often reminded, rightfully so, that I am indeed less than.
That I can separate myself from the world—a world that so often puffs up its inhabitants steeping them in arrogance and self-centeredness.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for those who feel their worldly importance to ever humble
themselves to the Creator of all of Creation.

John Michael Talbot’s simple yet powerful rendition of Psalm 62 has always helped to recenter me—as it has always had a way of bringing me back to the beautifully complicated relationship I have with the Creator of all of Creation. . .

Truly my soul finds rest in God;
my salvation comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
How long will you assault me?
Would all of you throw me down—
this leaning wall, this tottering fence?
Surely they intend to topple me
from my lofty place;
they take delight in lies.
With their mouths they bless,
but in their hearts they curse.
Yes, my soul, find rest in God;
my hope comes from him.
Truly he is my rock and my salvation;
he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.
My salvation and my honor depend on God;
he is my mighty rock, my refuge.
Trust in him at all times, you people;
pour out your hearts to him,
for God is our refuge.
Surely the lowborn are but a breath,
the highborn are but a lie.
If weighed on a balance, they are nothing;
together they are only a breath.
Do not trust in extortion
or put vain hope in stolen goods;
though your riches increase,
do not set your heart on them.
One thing God has spoken,
two things I have heard:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward everyone
according to what they have done.”

Psalm 62