Psalm 107

Let me give thanks to God
For She is good; Her love endures forever
Let me remember and tell myself always
The story of my recurring redemption
How Lady Wisdom comes to me again and again
To defeat my dark tendencies
To bless my poor efforts
To gather my scattered thoughts
I wandered in my desert wasteland
Of darkness, despair, doubt and depression
I could not find my way to Her city of light
I was hungry for peace, thirsty for comfort
My hope faded
Lost, I cried out for rescue, for Lady Wisdom
And She came, with good news and the Way
She delivered me to the gates of Her city of light
Where my thoughts could settle
Where my darkness was banished
So I thank God for Her unfailing love
For Her wonderful help
For satisfying my hungry longings
For quenching my raging thirst
But then again I sat in darkness
In utter darkness
Prisoner in chains of my own making
I forgot God
I made my own plans, lived my own life
Went my own way
Until I stumbled, until I broke
Blindly, I cried out for rescue, for Lady Wisdom
And She came, with light and the Truth
She brought me out of darkness
Out of the utter darkness
She broke my chains
So I thank God for Her unfailing love
For Her wonderful help
For breaking the steel gates of my selfishness
For cutting the iron bars of my ignorance
But then again I became foolish
I left God
No dramatic rebellion but I left
Wandered away into other preoccupations
Into the tempting world
Until I felt like death, not even warmed over
Sickly, I cried out for rescue, for Lady Wisdom
And She came, with healing and the Life
She restored my faith, my hope
So I thank God for Her unfailing love
For Her wonderful help
For finding me
For curing me
With prayer and praise, with songs of joy
I give thanks
Yet again I was cast adrift
Scared and overwhelmed
Storms of doubt raged around me
Towering waves of despair crashed over me
I could find no lifeboat, no life preserver
Surely God’s anger would weigh me down
Drowning, I cried out for rescue, for Lady Wisdom
And She came, with power and Love
She stilled my storms of doubt to whispers of faith
She calmed my waves of despair
She guided me to Her safe haven
So I thank God for Her unfailing love
For Her wonderful help
I will join the great cloud of witness
In exalting and praising Her
I am God’s creation
No less when my faith dries up
Than when it flows freely
I am God’s creation
No less when my hope shrivels
Than when it bears fruit
I am God’s creation
She turns my desert doubts into pools of faith
She turns my parched faith into flowing spring of hope
She shows me where to sow my hope
Where to plant my faith
With Her, I harvest the sweet fruit of love
She blesses me, and my comfort increases
My terrible Ds diminish in power
And yet, again, and again, and then again
I grow proud and am humbled
I grow careless and am brought to sorrow
I grow ugly and wander lost in anger
Until I know, again, how needy I am
How afflicted I am, on my own
Then She lifts me, again
Then She saves me, again
Then She reminds me again
That She is the Way, the Truth, the Life
She is Lady Wisdom
She is Helper, Sustainer, Consoler
She is God
Let me be wise, please God
Let me remember
Let me ponder the loving deeds of God
For me – again and again. Amen

Advertisements

Psalm 106: Nevertheless She Persisted

Praise God!
Give thanks to Lady Wisdom
For Her love persists forever
Can I ever thank God enough
Praise God enough
Wouldn’t it be wonderful
If I lived my whole life
Praising God
Giving thanks
Acting justly
Doing what is right
Ah yes, then I would deserve reward
Then I would merit saving
Then I wouldn’t need saving
But here’s the sad truth
Time and time again
I forget
I wander
I grumble
I close my eyes to Her light
I stumble in my darkness, my blindness
When I feel enslaved by my own selfishness
I forget God is with me
When I wallow in my own doubts
I forget God drives those doubts aside
When I wander lost in the wilderness of despair
I forget God feeds my spirit
When I give my time, my worship to unwise pursuits
I forget the peace I find in God
When I sacrifice love to anger
I forget God’s gentleness with me
When I live a half life, married to trivial things
I forget the fullness of life with God
When depression captures me
I forget God’s power to free me
With the psalmist I look back
I look back on the long history
Of God’s enduring love
To a faithless people
A doubting people
A grumbling people
A wicked people
A captive people
And I see myself
But I see God too
Her love
Her splendor
Her power
Her forgiveness
Her persistence
As always, for all people
She sees my distress
She hears my cry
She remembers me
She loves me
She saves me
She gathers me in
That I may give thanks to Her holy name
That I may glory in Her praise
Praise be to Lady Wisdom
Sovereign God of Israel
My God
From everlasting to everlasting
With that great cloud of witnesses
I joyously whisper shout, AMEN!

Forgiveness

I continue to be led to think about forgiveness. My thoughts this morning are that forgiveness is grace: unmerited favor. Often, when I feel that someone has wronged me, I focus on trying to understand the why of it – I go over and over it in my mind, twisting and turning it, trying to see it (as I was taught to do) from their point of view. Too often, those efforts just intensify the hurt for me, lead me into lengthy internal “dialogues” with the person who hurt me – dialogues that I always “win.” None of that leads easily to forgiveness.

This morning I have been thinking about Jesus’ interaction with the woman caught in adultery. He was not interested in her reasons, justifications, mitigating circumstances. He forgave her and asked her to do better in the future.

I am a long way from that but this morning I am thinking that forgiveness is not about understanding or excusing, but about willingness to continue to love the offender and to believe that the future can be better. Faith, hope, love and grace are needed to forgive – a tall order.

P.S. I also posted this on a closed Facebook group that I belong to. One of the women in the group took the time to write a long comment that ended with this:

Forgiveness is more a gift to yourself (via God’s grace), a firm decision not to let the harm caused by the other stop you from being free.”

I want to print this large and frame it, keep it before me always.

Psalm 105: Make Me Your Own

Let me start by giving thanks to God
By reminding myself of God’s greatness and power
Power used for my benefit
Let me quietly, silently sing a song of praise
Praise for God’s presence
In my life, in my heart
Let me glory in God, in naming God as my own
My own Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
Lady Wisdom, as my own
Let my heart rejoice in God
I come back here again and again
Back to my psalms
Back to my prayers
Seeking God’s presence
Needing God’s strength
Reminding myself of God’s power
Power to save me
Here and now, and at the hour of my death
And for eternity
Power for God’s chosen people
Descendants of Abraham and Sarah
And I am one of them
Lady Wisdom, make me Your own
God is powerful and faithful
God is righteous and just
God of Sarah and Abraham
God of Rebekah and Isaac
God of Leah and Rachael and Jacob
God of the great crowd of witnesses
Welcome me, please, among them
Chose me, pick me
Make me Your own
Protect me
Keep my demons from defeating me
Keep my distractions from ruling me
Make me Your own
As You sent Joseph first into Egypt
Though as a slave
As You made Joseph strong and sure
Honored and safe
Make me Your own
Free me from the bondage of my will
Strengthen me to do the good I want to do
To help those who need help
Free me from own preoccupations
So that I can better do what is needed
Make me Your own
As Joseph fell and rose and served
As Israel came first to Egypt to be nourished
Then stayed as slaves
I rise and fall in my faith
I find success and pleasure and pride
Only to fall again into darkness and depression
Despair and doubt
As You sent Moses and Aaron and Miriam
To rescue Your people in Egypt
Rescue me
Make me Your own
I know I rebel, I know I doubt, I know I despair
Help me to know that You purchased me
Not with silver and gold, but with Your blood, Your will
Guide me through my desert times
Feed my hunger, quench my thirst
With Your everlasting waters
Help me to remember Your promise
Your faithfulness, Your loving kindness
Make me Your own
Bring me into Your peace
Give me the only wealth I crave
The wealth of knowledge of You, sureness of You
That I might sing with joy
That I might live as You would have me live
That I might praise You
As You made Israel Your own
Make me Your own. Amen

The Midwife

Ruth, the innkeeper’s daughter, came for me
Sarah, her mother, had sent her
“Mom says she thinks
The young woman will need help soon”
So I went.
The innkeeper
With a worry frown
Called his wife to the door.
Sarah came with a lantern
And led us around back
To the caves
There we found the young woman
Her eyes wide with fear and hope
Leaning against her husband
As they sat on a blanket
Stretched over the straw
I knelt next to her, spoke gently
Let my hand rest for long moments on her huge belly
Sarah sent Ruth back to the house with instructions
I took the young husband’s place
And set him to heating water
At the courtyard fire
Ruth returned with Leah, the serving girl
Their arms full of cloth
Rags and sheets and swaddling
We replaced the good blanket with old sheets
We waited, we comforted, we encouraged
We had the whispering girls ready a bed for the baby.
When it was time
Sarah and I got her onto the low stool
Sarah behind her, supporting arms around her
One last gasp, groan, push, gush
And I gently guided another wet baby
Out of another mother.
Thank the Lord the night is mild
The young mother is strong
The baby is healthy and crying loudly
Even before the placenta is birthed.
Sarah spoke quietly to the young mother
“Praise and thank the Lord, a healthy boy
You have done well.”
I tied and cut the cord
Cleaned and swaddled the baby
We kept the girls busy helping to clean up
When we left
The young mother lay on the blanket
Stretched again over clean straw
Suckling her newborn son
Her husband at her side
Stroking his firstborn’s head
Holding his wife’s hand.
I told them I would return later in the day
To check mother and child
He shyly asked about my fee
I told him to rest, to enjoy
We would talk about that later
Sarah said she would send Leah back
With bread and hot sweet tea
They smiled their weary thanks
We left then
Sarah, Ruth, Leah and I
Tired but pleased
The baby was healthy
The young mother was strong
The girls had learned more about birth
A good birth
That was all I ever asked of the Lord
Praise and thanksgiving for a good birth
Such a birth always made a night’s work
Holy work

Psalm 104

The psalmist blesses God, Creator of the world
The psalmist worships God by naming God’s creations
Extolling God’s achievements
God is honor and majesty and bright light
God created everything
Heavens and light, clouds and wind
Fire and flame
The strong foundations of the earth
The deep waters of the seas
The edges and boundaries
Mountains and valleys
Water to quench thirst
Branches to shelter birds
Grass and food plants
Wine “to gladden the human heart”
Oil and bread
Trees, the psalmist’s beloved cedars of Lebanon
The psalmist goes on and on
Reminding God of this incredible creation
Storks and goats and rabbits
The moon and the sun
Lions and their prey alike
How ecstatic is the psalmist
Verse after verse
Creation after creation
“In wisdom You have made them all”
Earth and sea
Creeping things and Leviathan
God gives and God takes away
Blessed be the name of God
God creates with God’s own spirit
God takes away breath, and we die
And return to dust
“May the glory of God endure forever”
May God rejoice in Her works
In wisdom, in glory
Yes, but, my mind whispers
The God of the cedars of Lebanon
Is also the God of the plagues of Egypt

The God of wondrous creation
Is also the God of famine and flood
Disease and disaster
Pain and suffering
The Creator of everything
Is also the Creator of me
My generous intelligence and my unruly emotions
My comforting faith and my persistent doubts
My supple joints and my easy bleeding
My grand aspirations and my foolish distractions
My gracious loves and my unreasonable hates
My gains and my losses
My companions and my aloneness
My children’s love and my children’s withdrawal
My achievements and my disappointments
How I want to praise God as the psalmist does
Without reservation, with easy joy
How I want to accept
Life and death, good and bad
Giving and withholding, revealing and hidden
God, Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer
The unknowable lover
The unreachable parent
The often forgotten ruler
How I want
To sing with the psalmist
To sing praise to God as long as I live
May my meditation be pleasing to You, my God
Let my sins, my doubts, my not-enoughs be consumed
Let my wickedness be no more
Let me shout with the psalmist
Bless God, O my soul
Praise God. Amen.

Psalm 103

Bless God, O my soul, and all that is in me
Bless God’s holy name
Bless God and make sure to remember
All that God does for me
God forgives me
God heals me
God redeems me
God crowns me with Her own steadfast love and mercy
God satisfies me with good all my life
God renews me
(And yet, and yet, so often
I feel unworthy
I feel sick
I feel abandoned
I feel unloved
I feel old and worn out
I feel, even, that my faith is but a delusion)
I return to the psalmist who tells me that
God brings vindication and justice to the oppressed
God’s people know God’s ways and acts
God is merciful and gracious
God is slow to anger
God is abounding in steadfast love
And I can claim all, all for myself
This is why the psalmist blesses God’s holy name
(This is what I sometimes do with my whole heart
And sometimes struggle to believe it even a little)
I go back again to the psalmist who tells me more
God will not accuse me
God will not be angry with me
God will not deal with me according to my worst
God will not exact vengeance for my doubts
God’s steadfast love, love for me
Is higher than the heavens
God’s forgetfulness and forgiveness of my worst
Encompasses my whole world
Separates me completely from my failings
(Really? Am I then still me?)

As a parent loves and knows the limits of a child
God loves me and knows my limits
(Though sometimes my fear is not fear of God
But fear that God does not exist)
Ah, but God knows, better than me
That I am but dust
(And you can’t expect too much from dust)
My days are like grass
Once I bloomed strong and bright like a flower
But the wind of my days blows ever faster
My flower droops
The psalmist says, so what
You may fail, but the God’s steadfast love
Is from everlasting to everlasting
God’s righteousness is mine to claim
All the days of my life
While I try to keep God’s covenant
And love as God commands me to love
God is sovereign over all
So with saints and angels
Let me bless God
Let me be among those who do God’s bidding
Let me listen to – let me hear – God’s Word
Let me join God’s hosts, God’s ministers, God’s faithful
Let me join that great crowd of witnesses
Let me join the universe, God’s creation
(Oh, please, with the humble peace that passes feeble understanding)
Bless God, O my soul. Amen