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Psalm 18: The Rescue is Yours



For a few days, I had been listening to a "Green Room" podcast where Steffany Gretzinger was a guest. I had turned it on as background while I worked. The topic that caught my attention was about asking the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus.


The podcast as a whole was deeply meaningful, but there was this one section where Steffany was emphatically responding to a question from the host. He had asked about how to best invite a young believer to the deep places of the Lord while they were reliant on the experience of others. He spoke of how they/we have our perfectly curated music playlists and YouTube hero's of the faith that we rely on to "feed" us spiritual ideas and thoughts.


Steffany responded, "If they go shut themselves into a room and I hand them a Bible and say 'ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus to you to teach you what this means,' he's going to show up. And he's not going to show up because I had a, b, and c for them to do. It's like when you pray, go into your room and shut the door, and pray to your father, who dwells in secret, and then your father, who dwells in secret, will reward you openly with what? Himself. He is the reward, he is the answer, he's the solution, he's everything... "


God himself is the reward. Wow.


I recall my fervor as a young believer, and then many years of later, a spiritual retreat with a group of men that I now call brothers that restarted my deep longing of God's fatherly affection and care. The excitement of pouring through scripture and having it come alive by the Spirit of Jesus was palpable. The words leaping off the page and entering my heart only further fed this faith. His presence was the greatest element of these sweet times with God.


But that was 10 years ago. And a lot of life had been lived in that span of time. So here I was, looking for a rescue that I didn't really know I needed. I was in need of the presence of God that I knew was available to any who would ask.


Go into your room and shut the door, and pray to your father, who dwells in secret, and then your father, who dwells in secret, will reward you openly with what? Himself. He is the reward, he is the answer, he's the solution, he's everything... —Steffany Gretzinger

So, taking her words, I began to lean into what my heart had been longing for and invited Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus. I wondered, "Am I seeking an emotional experience? Do I just want to 'feel' something?" Perhaps, but the truth is there's an encounter available with God that only comes when you open the scriptures and they are actively quickened or brought to life by the Holy Spirit.


I think that was what I had been seeking for a while. It was as if I was longing for an experience like that of the two disciples walking to Emmaus with the "unseen" Jesus. In the account, He was hidden from their recognition, speaking with them about himself and the "recent" events in Jerusalem, revealing glimpses to their burning hearts of the Jesus they had walked with, learned from, and watch die. The Jesus that they longed to walk with again as they journeyed with just his memory. Yet he was there with them! He was walking and opening the entirety of scripture, showing them how everything they had seen was revealed throughout ancient history, that Jesus was indeed the Son of God and had lived and died fulfilling the plan of humanity's rescue. And the passage said, "Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?"


I longed for an Emmaus road experience, a profound encounter with God that would set my heart to ”burn within me” and take me to a new place with God.


The Next Step


Like many, I have YouVersion of the Bible on my phone. But I was looking for a physical copy of the scripture because, in the podcast, Steffany encouraged us to put away technology or a favorite music set. She mentioned we needed to enter the Holy space on our own, not using what worked for other people. We need to ”take and eat” the bread of life for ourselves each day; Jesus being the manna for that day, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not someone else’s manna…but our own manna from heaven for this day.


With that in mind and a physical copy of the Bible in hand, I asked, "What do you have for me today, Lord?"


The Whisper


Psalm 18 seemed to be highlighted. Just a gentle entrance of the words "Psalm 18" came to my mind and heart. This portion of the Bible speaks in beautiful poetry about God's rescue of David. David wrote this poem after he had received God's rescue from King Saul.


I love you, Lord, my strength.

The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;

my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,

my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,

and I have been saved from my enemies.


These words began to sink into the hardened soil of my self-protecting heart. I looked toward the rock, the fortress, my deliverer, and recalled a piece of art I had lettered several years before about the storms of life and the Rock of Ages. The truth of rescue was beginning to flow over me.


Then, these verses stopped me in my tracks.


The cords of death entangled me;

the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.

The cords of the grave coiled around me;

the snares of death confronted me.


I stopped and began rolling this concept around in my heart. As someone who has nearly drowned, these words sent a chill to my core. I KNOW what it is like to be sinking underwater, just below the surface, the panic, the helplessness, the breathlessness, the desperation, the utter sense of impending doom. Abject fear.


The idea of cords coiling and knotting around my arms, of seaweed wrapping around my feet, seemingly pulling me deeper into the depths and darkness. It was chilling.


As someone who has nearly drowned, these words sent a chill to my core. I KNOW what it is like to be sinking underwater, just below the surface, the panic, the helplessness, the breathlessness, the desperation, the utter sense of impending doom. Abject fear.

The Rescue


Just as soon as the trauma of that memory grasped me, I was grasped by a verse further down the page.


He reached down from on high and took hold of me;

he drew me out of deep waters.

He rescued me from my powerful enemy,

from my foes, who were too strong for me.


And there it was. The very words I was reading were illuminated brightly by Holy Spirit; opened up in front of me was the revelation of Jesus the rescuer.


My memories of drowning were overlayed with the reality that God is the rescuer. At the moment of my drowning, feeling the grasp of the rescuer who is bringing me back from the brink was both surprising and relevant. In the moment of aloneness under the waves, feeling the "other" reach, grab, and pull me up and out was life-changing. Without the rescue, it would have been over. With the rescue came a new lease on life...life where it was meant to be lived...the new perspective.


The Response


I celebrated this fresh view of Jesus as my rescuer and took to my iPad to sketch the moment I envisioned. The one in desperate need is tied-up below the waves by coils of rope, seaweed swirling around their arm while they frantically reach for the surface for rescue. And this upwardly forceful gesture is matched only by the forceful plunge from above of the resurrected arm of Jesus, a nail scar indicating His identity.



The scene is the nano-second before the rescue. The point in time just before heaven crashes into earth, bringing safety and salvation. The rescue is real, people. I know, because it happened to me.


So here I sit, trying to cobble together some words that accurately represent all of these experiences. Watching a podcast, being moved by the podcast to believe that God wants to show himself to me, taking that word and believing and acting on it, receiving a direction to read a portion of this gigantic book and finding Jesus reaching down to rescue me, to walk with me, and to show me how these verses written so many years before he walked this earth pointed to his heart of rescue for me.


If I can leave you with just one thing, it would be what Steffany shared in her podcast.


Sit down with your Bible.

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal Jesus in the words on those pages.

And allow your heart to burn within you at the revealing that God provides.


Because ”All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness."

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