“HELP! I’ve fallen…and I can’t get up.”
Did you ever quote this commercial? I know plenty of people who have used this line to elicit a giggle or two from others at a gathering of friends.
But seriously, have you ever thought about the many ways there are to fall?
Down. Out. In. Across. Through. Around. Between. And more.
Have you ever fallen or identified with the lost of this world?
Have you been influenced by what you see on social media, TV, magazines, in your neighborhood or where you wished you lived, or while shopping with friends or eating out?
Face it – at times, we idolize the things of this world.
In Psalms, we meet just such a believer, Asaph. He was a talented musician. No doubt he spent time with David, talking about the Lord and composing worship songs.
But he was struggling.
You see, Aspah had a longing. He envied the arrogant and the prosperity they experienced. He liked what he saw and he wanted what they had.
He tells us of his dilemma in Psalm 73.
Here’s his honest list as he viewed the lives of the lost around him. They had:
…pride, worn like jewelry
…hatred against injustice
…hearts full of malice against others
…tongues strutting with diatribes against oppression
…easy and luxurious living
…and even the approval of God’s people, who “turn to them and drink it all in” because worldly lives look so convincingly wonderful (vs. 10).
Asaph was struggling big time, and wanted to have what they have. Do we struggle too?
I admit, sometimes, I do.
But, take heart! Let’s learn from Asaph and rise above.
For full effect, I challenge you to read Psalm 73. (This translation, the Evangelical Heritage Version, connected me to this psalm like never before. See what you think!)
As you read, observe what happened with his discouraged heart. How did he break the cycle of envy, return to his senses, and to the Lord?
First - he thought about his obsession and what it meant for his life: “Have I kept my heart pure for nothing?” (verses 1 – 15)
Next - he tried to understand his emotions. “When I tried to understand this, it was very troubling to me,” (v. 16).
Third - he went to church. “until I went to the sanctuary of God. Then I understood their end.” (v. 17).
Do you see the nugget? Attending worship was his strategy.
While in God’s sanctuary, he got his answer! The Word of God led him through some steps to straighten out his thinking as God revealed the final destiny of those he envied.
Remember, God gave him understanding while he was worshipping. All I can say is, “Wow.”
So, what recovery steps did Asaph go through?
The five stepping stones are recorded in Psalm 73:21-25.
1. He C - CONFESSED his envy.
“Yes, my heart was bitter, and I was torn up inside.” Psalm 73:21
2. He R - REALIZED and REPENTED his unbalanced emotional and mental condition.
“I was unthinking and ignorant. I was a dumb animal before you.” Psalm 73:22
3. He O - OBEYED the Holy Spirit’s prompting to turn away from sin, and remember his connection to God.
“Yet I am always with you. You hold me by my right hand.” Psalm 73:23
4. He S - SPOKE of where God guides his children.
“With your guidance you lead me, and afterward, you will take me to glory.” Psalm 73:24
5. He S - SOUGHT the Lord for comfort and security, not those influencing him.
“Who else is there for me in heaven? And besides you, I desire no one else on earth.” Psalm 73:26
Looking back at Asaph’s progression to trusting the Lord, I see an acrostic buried in the path he took:
Do you see the hidden word above? CROSS.
The same path Jesus took to pay for Asaph’s sin of envy, and ours. It’s hidden in this marvelous way of dealing with encroaching sin.
The ways of the world around us may be enticing, but in the end, NOTHING is more desirable than Jesus.
And if we fall?
The path back to real living is always open through the cross. The adjustment of heart led Asaph to his final conclusion:
Asaph’s discovery during worship is worth remembering. It’s all about Jesus…
…who rescued us from the deathly influence of the world,
…who gives us faith to turn away from evil desires and trust him instead, and
…who will lift us up forever, soul and body, perfect and whole, on the last day!
Five steps to back away from the ledge. With Asaph and countless other victorious believers, we might sing:
“NO DOUBT ABOUT IT! I’m fallen…and by God’s grace, I will rise.”
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for our victory in you. Lead us to the cross when we envy any pattern of this world. Help us to see only you, our risen Savior. Amen.