First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 16

Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge.
(Psalm 16:1, NLT)

God has a funny way of not letting me acquire mere head knowledge.

Instead, He desires to change my heart with His transformational truth.

When I first read Psalm 16:1, I automatically ascribed it to physical safety.  You know, “Please God, keep me safe today.  And my family, my friends.  Protect us from car accidents.  And house fires, plane crashes, school shootings…”  The kinds of things we see constantly covered on news stations.  I cry out, “keep me safe, O God.”

But when I sat down to write this devotional, another kind of safety came to mind.  The kind of refuge we need for our hearts.  Because our hearts are often broken and in need of a safe place to go.  So, I wrote about crying out to God to protect our broken hearts.  I tied in other Scriptures having to do with the heart.  I provide my thoughts on keeping our hearts safe.  It was pretty good.   I thought.  Not good enough, apparently.  The Spirit compelled me to wait in posting it.

Then He asked me, “do you get it?”
Get it?  Of course I got it.  I wrote it, didn’t I?
He asked again, “do you get it?”
Maybe He thought I didn’t get it.

And, as He often does, God let me live it.
He allowed my heart to be broken.

Not a huge break.  But enough.

Enough so, that I didn’t come back to this verse for weeks.  I did not want to return to the devotional.  Because all my contrite comments, my well thought out answers, my nicely wrapped up Scriptures, were suddenly put to the test. I wrestled. I complained. I mourned. I raged.
And I came to the point where I had to ask:
What should I do with the disappointment?  the heartache? the hurt?

They don’t go away quickly.
So I turned again to Scripture.  His word says “When I am hurting, I find comfort in Your promise that leads to life.” (Proverbs 119:50)
I definitely was hurting. But was I finding comfort in His promise?
The Psalmist cries out, “Comfort me with Your love, just as You have promised.” (Proverbs 119:76)
Was I allowing Him to comfort me, or was I wallowing in my own self pity and woundedness?
Or worse. Was I entertaining unforgiveness or harboring resentment?

Would I be willing, like the Psalmist, to say “Look deep into my heart, God, and find out everything I am thinking.”  (Psalm 139:23)

His word definitely has a way of cutting deep, exposing thoughts, revealing sin.
Yes, I was wallowing, entertaining, and harboring.

So, how would the Lord have me respond?  Confession, for starters.  Choosing to forgive, of course.  But neither of those things guarantees relief from the pain.

They do however, set me on a path of healing and peace.
They give me a place to put the disappointment, heartache, and hurt.
They provide the means to work change in my heart with His transformational truth

I’d like to say I finally get it, but it’s more of a I am getting it.
As He provides a refuge for my heart.

Father, keep my heart safe.  Comfort me with Your love.  Give me transparency and vulnerability in the truth of Your word.  May it always illuminate and intervene where needed.  Expose my innermost thoughts and desires and let your Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes.  Let me always bring it to You for refuge.

grace & peace


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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