I was praying with the Jesus Prayer this morning:
Jesus, son of God, Savior, have mercy on me.
While I was sinking into contemplation, my attention was invaded by an old song lyric. That isn’t unheard of, but it seemed unusual. I turned my attention away from it and back to the breath of life I often experience in the Jesus Prayer. But the lyric would not go away. So I followed it:
Hear my cry, O God;
…..give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint;
…..Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a refuge for me, — Psalm 61:1-3 (NASB)
I used to sing this song on the way from San Diego to Pasadena for my last year of seminary at Fuller. I about wore out the 4-track tape. The song, based on Psalm 61, often arises when I need it the most.
I searched myself to figure out why I had been led to that old path. I did not feel like I was in danger. I was not faint. My heart was actually full, affirmed by many voices during the Sunday meeting, among other things. So the usual uses for the song were unnecessary. So I searched the psalm again and this line caught my eye:
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
The original song is a prayer for help from the God who provides a stronghold in the face of the enemy. The Candle song is a sweet plea, full of yearning and assurance, knowing that Jesus is that refuge.
I decided the one line that caught my attention was about all the ways I had experienced “spiritual” or “good-hearted” people weighing down conversations with their immanent frame [see the end of this post] — people with no rock higher than the one they can learn, label or own. I discovered how weighed down I felt from recent experiences with:
- Evangelicals schooled to pray right, to pray for things and to suspect relating to the Spirit who is unbound by their theology and emanating from, not trapped in, the Bible.
- good-hearted poets finding spiritual experiences in nature without the Spirit, luring the unsuspecting into their salvation by aesthetics.
- psychology researchers leading people to solve their grief by accepting ambiguity and relying on their capacity to choose something better than meaningless suffering.
I don’t think I realized just how weighed down I was under the pressure of the anti-Christ movement in our polluted air. I was going with a flow that did not feel joyful. The Spirit was gently leading me toward recognition and renewed hope.
I am sure you may feel hemmed in by lies, by confidence in illusions, by outright hostility undoing love every day. I feel hemmed in by Christians with a morality of anger who are willing to kill relationships for their righteousness, both left and right. Thank God for this sweet, humble song, ancient and new, which quietly lifts up a faint heart from the end of the earth to Someone greater than their heart and larger than the understanding of humans.
There is a rock higher than than mine, a love wilder, a truth larger and a hope eternal. In Jesus we meet such love in our history and by the Spirit he is even larger, reaching to the ends of the earth and into my meditation.