Shaken into Alignment and Joy in His Presence
 

by Kathi Pelton

LORD, You have assigned me my portion and my cup; You have made my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the LORD, who counsels me; even at night my heart instructs me. I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will You let Your Holy One see decay. You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.-Psalm 16:5-11

Shaken into Alignment

The above verses from Psalm 16 have provoked much thought and meditation in me over the past months. If you have read my articles over the past year, then you are aware that the Lord has had me in a time of testing and preparation through what many refer to as a "desert experience." Through this process I have had times where I was on a spiritual mountain top, but also many times I went through deep darkness where I found myself tempted to despair. In those dark moments, I must admit that I felt "shaken." Yet, in verse 8 of Psalm 16 we read:

I have set the LORD always before me. Because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

The shaking that I experienced were signs to me that some of my life was in need of greater alignment. But knowing there is misalignment, and being able to identify it, can be two very different things. As I began to meditate on Psalm 16, I discovered some key places where alignment was necessary.

Let's look more closely at verse 8.

What does the first line say? "I have set the Lord always before me." Here was my first place of alignment. On those days of shaking I can look back and say, "I did not set the Lord before me!" On those days I allowed circumstances and fear to be set before me, leaving the Lord hidden by my own shadow and the shadows of looming circumstances. I might even go as far as to say that I set other "gods" before Him. If the circumstances were financial, then I was allowing money to be an idol before me rather than allowing the Lord to be always before me.

One of my biggest struggles has always been laying down my childhood dream of having just one home-the kind with a white picket fence that looks like Christmas year round, where I could live out my life and raise my children. But instead, my family and I have followed the Lord's leading and ended up living in about twenty houses (and only one with a white picket fence). This little dream of mine has, at times, been an idol that overshadowed the Lord's presence.

I do not speak any of this in self-condemnation, nor is there condemnation for any of you who have dealt with similar issues, because the Lord is merciful and kind to us even in our weaknesses. I am hoping to help others with issues of alignment so that you will not be shaken in times of hardship. Remember, if the Lord is always before me, then whatever I face must go through Him to get to me. He is not moving away from me, but I am turning my face away from Him when I turn to any idol. Are my dreams wrong or bad? No-but when they become larger than my desire to follow Jesus, then I am opening myself up to the shakings of this world.

I do not want to be shaken when the world is shaken, or when I am tested, and I am sure that you do not want to be either. I do not want to waver in my faith and joy simply because my circumstances are not turning out the way that I dreamed they would. It is in God's amazing mercy that He has allowed these "shakings" so that we can be aligned in order to stand firm in the days ahead. I want my faith and my joy to be firm at all times, not just when things are going the way that I want them to go. As Believers we should always believe for things larger than we can do in our natural self. We should allow our faith to be stretched for the impossible at all times, so why are we shaken by mere finances or circumstances beyond our control? Remember, faith is not in what we can see but in what we cannot see.

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.-2 Corinthians 4:16-18

My Portion and My Cup

Probably the hardest realization for me during this season was becoming aware that I had become resentful of "my portion and my cup." It was a very sad moment for me to realize that I had not honored the Lord with a joyful heart regarding this. I wanted so much to live in the house with my husband, kids, and a puppy in the window. I never dreamed of traveling or speaking before people-leaving the husband, kids and puppy at home-and I never dreamed of writing or "being known."

I am not complaining, because one of the greatest joys in my life has been meeting so many wonderful people and sharing life experiences with them. But, in my heart, I had allowed my dream of life on this earth to become bigger than the blessing of the portion and cup the Lord had set before me. For this I have repented, and though I still have my dreams, I will rejoice that I have been honored enough to represent the Lord in the areas He has set before me.

I believe that the Lord is aligning many of us in this way. There may be someone reading this and thinking, "What is her problem? She's living my dream while I've been stuck in the same house and same town all of my life!" The alignment isn't about the content of our dreams, but becoming thankful and joyful about what the Lord has set before us. This is an issue of the heart, because as the old saying goes, "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence." If I had been given my dream I probably would have been dissatisfied for some other reason.

Unshakable Joy

My alignment throughout this time has really been all about what we find in Psalm 16:11:

You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.

Our joy is to be found in His presence. I think that at times we all struggle with trying to find our joy in the things of this earthly life as our main source. But deep, inner joy that is unshakable is found in His presence alone. This is why Paul could speak of the contentment that he found in Philippians 4:11-13:

...for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.

The very day that I realized I had been trying to find my joy in temporal things was a day of great freedom. One would think that someone walking with the Lord for as many years as I have would quickly identify this, but it was a very deep issue that wasn't forming as thoughts or even actions. It was, rather, an attitude of the heart. Outwardly, I was obeying, but with a part of my heart I was resentful for what the Lord was asking of me. I was still waiting for my joy to come from seeing my earthly dream come true.

I have been amazed at the freedom I have found as I awaken each day and know, whatever my situation, that my joy is secure because it is not in anything that can be shaken or anyone who will disappoint me...it is in Christ alone. Jesus is my portion and my cup and this has truly made me aware that all my boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places. I have a delightful inheritance that will never end or decay!

Conclusion Prayer

If this article has spoken to your heart and helped you to identify an area of alignment that needs to take place, then pray this prayer with me:

Lord, thank You that You are my portion and that You will never abandon me or leave me in the grave of my own making. Thank You for the mercy, kindness and compassion that You show me in the midst of my journey and in my weaknesses. I want to live in Your presence, where You are the source of my joy. Right now I ask that You would be before me, that You would be before anything else in my life. Overshadow me with Your presence and wash me in the joy of knowing You.

Forgive me for placing other things such as dreams, relationships, or material possessions before You. Forgive me for every god that I have put before You. I ask that You come and be King over all of my life. You are my King, You are my portion, You are my counselor and You are my joy. I willingly ask for proper alignment in every area of my life, my heart and my desires. May I be able to say like Paul that whether in need or in plenty, I have found my contentment secure because of Your salvation.