The Lifter of My Head

Psalm 3:3

But You, O Lord, are a shield for me,
My glory and the One who lifts up my head.

 

I’m bad at references,and my Bible doesn’t have every single reference for every single word in its concordance. But I had this verse on my mind the other day, and fortunately the word “lifts” in the concordance refers me to Psalm 3:3, which is exactly what I was looking for.

I’ve not had the greatest few weeks—two Fridays ago, I got my nose hit by a softball, then a few weeks later the display on my phone broke, and then the day I was frantically looking for this verse, I had been rear-ended by a semi on the interstate. Let me caveat this by saying a few things first: these are ALL—each and every one—simply inconveniences. I don’t mean that in some pious, I-have-a-great-perspective-on-everything way. I mean that my nose wasn’t broken and it just hurts from time to time; my phone was broken as a result of my own frustration and I got my old phone back and working free of cost; and the only damage was to my trunk, and it’s not broken, just bent. I was fine, didn’t have whiplash or anything of the sort.

But these things are definitely setbacks and frustrations. On my way home from lexington, I was listening to music and I found that I just had to stop. I needed to talk to God about all this. I explained how frustrated I was—this was going to cost me money to fix, and I had to worry about how my parents and friends would respond, especially since I couldn’t just call them because I don’t have a phone—and did my best to ask for help not to focus and stress about all of these little things. God’s response was simply this:

“I am your glory and the lifter of your head.”

I began to think about why God want Himself known as the lifter of my head. Obviously our first instinct is to believe that that means that God is an encourager, and that’s true. You tend to tell people who are feeling down on their luck or hard done by to keep their head up. But let me just say—I can keep moving forward even if my head’s down. I can even lift it a little bit to see what’s in my way.

I don’t think that God wanted to simply describe Himself as an encourager, because I don’t think that’s enough.

God isn’t a motivational speaker or a fitness trainer whose message is, “you can do it!” Now before you think I’m a heretic, let me explain what I mean—

 

God wants us to get our eyes off of us and onto Him. I firmly believe that God wants to lift our heads to see Him so that we can stop looking at ourselves all of the time. I believe that He is our encouragement, not just our obscure encourager. I believe that the hope of this life is that this life isn’t everything, in fact it is naught but a vapor. It’s far too easy to keep my head down, not so much in discouragement, but in self-pity and frustration that things aren’t going my way—to keep my head down so that I can create a solution in things around me that I can see, instead of looking up to see God.

 

I see it like this: when a son falls off of his bike and scrapes his knee while his dad is walking beside him, he will cry. He will scream and be in pain, but a good dad will have his son look at him and not his wound, telling him, “son, I’ll carry you, I’ll take you home, and we’ll get this patched up. Don’t worry.

 

Matthew 6:27

 

Which one of you by worrying can add a cubit to his stature?

Why do people reject Jesus?

I was having a conversation with a friend this morning and mentioned somewhat jokingly that I wished a particular person I know was a Christian. Actually, I’ve often thought that about people—mostly celebrities—I thought about what that person would be like if they knew Jesus. What baffles me even more is that in America, we often don’t have the issue of people not knowing who Jesus is. It is very rare that a person has not heard of Him, which means that at some point, the majority of people have made a decision about Jesus.

If the message of Jesus Christ is true (which I believe it is,) then by simply putting faith in Jesus Christ, believing He is the Son of God, that there is a sin problem in humanity and Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection dealt with it, and that salvation comes from Him alone, one can be saved from an eternal destiny of suffering to one of extravagant joy and enjoyment of the God who created the universe, Who stands outside time and space. So who on earth would anyone reject that?

One idea is that people have been hurt by Christians and don’t believe that the church accurately represents who Jesus is. I reject this idea because it attempts to absolve oneself of the responsibility to make a decision about the Gospel by blaming the reason for their decision on someone else.

Another is that they don’t believe it to be true. They DON’T believe those doctrinal things about Jesus—that He was the Son of God, that He was sinless, born of a virgin, etc.

From this point on, I hope I say what I mean well and accurately…

I believe the opposite is true. Not the opposite of the doctrinal statements, but I think that people are afraid of what those doctrinal truths imply. For one, people don’t want to admit there’s a sin problem, because as my favorite lyricist Dustin Kensrue articulates it: the gospel comes against our pride.

I think that the reality is, people know how dangerous Jesus is. Not eternally dangerous, but He’s dangerous to our comfort. You can even see that in the Bible.

When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he needed to do to enter into eternal life, Jesus told him to sell all his posessions and follow Him. Matthew provides an important detail: the rich young ruler was sorrowful. Why? Because he had great posessions, and he had to make a choice. He would have been happy to keep his riches and follow Jesus, but he didn’t appear to be happy to choose one or the other.

In Matthew 8, Jesus outlines the costs of discipleship: that while others may be comfortable, a life with Him isn’t necessarily (He uses the example of being homeless to illustrate.) Shortly after, He casts demons out of two men, and the demons themselves beg Jesus to let them go into a herd of swine, and they then run away. They knew Jesus—the light—is dangerous to darkness. Then after that, when the town hears of the news of the two men, they beg Jesus to go away! Why? We’re not told, but I’m of the mind that He posed a threat to the way things were: the comfort and normality they enjoyed. When darkness is exposed, it is uncomfortable.

It’s a theory for the time being, and I’d welcome discussion, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that the Holy Spirit anoints the preaching of the Gospel, alerting the hearers to the consequences and rewards of believing it, and that people make the choice to avoid having their pride come under attack with the humbling (albeit comforting and relieving) truth of the gospel.