In The Presence of Tsarar
"God doesn't need to vanquish your enemies, because He's greater than your enemies." As soon as the words came out of her mouth something deep within me groaned, "Yes." I quickly came out of my child's pose and scribbled the words onto the notecard sitting next to my yoga mat. As I wrote them another part of me rose up in rebellion against each letter.
He's God, he can take it away, so he should take it away. He can change it, so he should change it. But, oh, how quickly that argument fell void.
Then she referenced a section in Psalm 23 that I had never liked before and suddenly it clicked. This half-sentence that always felt out of place to me suddenly felt at home. An overwhelming feeling overcame me, the feeling that I had fallen at last into the words I needed.
"You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies..."
I looked up that word for enemies when I got home, it's tsarar. Though it is most often translated as enemy, it is sometimes translated as distress, afflict, vex, trouble, bound, or bind up. So, these things that bind me, that I'm stuck with, that wrap around me and hold me captive, these troubles, these afflictions, the things that cause me distress, my enemies, God prepares a table for me in the midst of them. Right there where they can see me and I can see them. In the presence of my enemies.
At the beginning of class we were asked to set an intention for the summer, to ask God for a word that we could hold intentionally for the coming weeks. I knew the word that was mine before she had even finished speaking, it came fast and hard and I didn't quite understand it. "Stay," it said.
A few weeks ago another woman had asked me to sit quietly with God and ask Him for one word to describe my ministry at this time, that word had also come fast and hard and I rebelled against it with every fiber. "Wait," it said.
At the beginning of the year I had asked God for a word for the year and the word I couldn't shake, that followed me around like a lost puppy wanting to be mine, was "Hope."
Today in class all these words came flooding over me. They were richer, fuller, deeper.
Stay here. Just sit here. Stay in the hard places, in the presence of trouble, in the presence of enemies, in the presence of things you don't want and didn't ask for. Stay. Keep waiting. Keep hoping. I know you are tired of waiting, tired of hoping, tired of surrendering, tired of these enemies. But, I'm right here with you. And I'm not tired. I have a table for you, a kings table, a sacred table, filled with bounty and goodness. And I offer you this table right here, in the presence of your enemies.
"When you are ready, come into chair pose." She spoke the words from the front of the room and slowly we all bent our knees as if sitting in imaginary chairs.
"Sit down at the table, friends. Pull up a seat. God has prepared a place for you." I heard the words and couldn't keep the tears back. The water rose from deep in my heart with a loud rumble, but the tears fell silently down my cheeks.
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever." Psalm 23
Rejoicing in the journey, Bethany