[WARNING LABEL: This blog post is long. Hope it’s still worth your time to endure to the end.]
It was during a rather troubling season of life and ministry a few years back that two verses from Psalm 18 caught my attention. My internal inspiration swelled as I read:
“You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
With my God I can scale a wall.” (Psalm 18:28-29)
During this time, I felt like I had hit a wall that was far higher and more imposing than any I had previously faced. Enlightened and encouraged, I wrote out these verses on a note card and dutifully prayed daily that God would “turn my darkness into light”. Since these verses are strategically placed in the middle of an epic Psalm of miraculous proportions, I figured my divinely appointed rescue was probably just around the corner.
Not quite. Actually, not at all. My many days of praying this verse turned into many, many months of praying this same verse over and over. Honestly, laying it out before God each day was getting increasingly painful. Where was my miraculous rescue? Where was my epic salvation from God?
In the time since I started praying these verses, another verse in this same Psalm has also caught my attention. Consider the simple phrase of verse 34:
“He trains my hands for battle . . .”
Training for battle is not easy. It does not go quickly. The more skilled in battle one wants to become, the longer and more grueling the training must be. Am I fully trained now? Oh no– not even close. Yet these multiple years of praying these verses taught me that in order to become the follower of Jesus I am destined to become, it will take years and years of sustained effort for God to tenaciously strengthen my mind, heart and soul.
You might be praying for an epic miracle in your own life. Please don’t stop. But also recognize that God may be using this time to build up your internal strength so you’re more fully prepared for a public victory.
Some commentators believe that David wrote this Psalm after a single epic victory. Other scholars conclude that it was written at the end of his life. I’m going with the later option. It wasn’t an epic victory that David was celebrating–I think he was commemorating an epic life.
For what it’s worth, I’ll take an epic life over the one epic victory. I’m just going to need God’s long, sustained rescue effort to make it happen.