Psalm 71

You are not going to leave me to my worst tendencies, now that I am old
Are You, God?
I have nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to who can help
Who can save me from my worst tendencies
Only in Your righteousness can I hope for delivery and rescue
Only if You hear my complaints, my need, my anger, my regrets
Only if You become the rock of hope I can cling to
When the flood of negatives sweep over me, trying to drown me in despair
Only if You become the fortress of peace I can retreat to
Out of reach of the raging, crashing, hurting, killing negatives, the terrible Ds
Rescue me, O my God, from myself, keep me from being unjust and cruel
Be my hope; be all that I trusted, all that I hoped for in my naïve youth
Just 3 weeks after I was born, I was baptized
Throughout my childhood, I learned of You
I was taught to praise You – and fear You – always
Oh how the nuns loved me then, but not so much later
Until much later – when I was long grown and utterly abandoned
I turned around – my own metanoia – and You were still there
You became, once again, my refuge from grief and hatred
I struggled, I was lost in disappointment, despair, despondency
Until I began to teach Sunday School
I didn’t know what I believed when I started
I just knew that it felt good to be with children
And that, time and again, I found words, I found belief, I found joy
Beyond all expectations
And so You led me back and my days were filled with Your glory
Then Gordon died
And so much stopped for me
Struggle and doubt, depression and darkness
Marked my days again
But You didn’t let me wallow: You sent the Johnsons and Mom and Norma
And others who needed me as I needed them
Now, again, my life has turned: You sent Woody
So now, although I still struggle, I believe You will not be far from me
You hasten to help me (though it doesn’t always seem like hastening)
You deal with my doubt, depression, despair, darkness
You deal with all my death-dealing thoughts and feelings
So I will hope continually – in You
I will praise You yet more and more
I won’t take credit myself but will give You credit
Because my righteousness is only borrowed from You
As You have saved the countless numbers, so You have saved me
And so I will praise Your mighty deeds for me, in me
I will praise Your righteousness, Yours alone
Let me remind You, if I may, that You ensured I learned of You in my youth
You were with me and led me to wonder at Your power and glory
Now that I am old, white-haired, I know that You will not forsake me
You will help me to continue to learn and teach of Your righteousness
From the depths of depression and doubt, You will bring me up again
You will comfort me, protect me, rescue me, save me, once again
And in return? Well, I promise not to try to praise you with the harp or lyre
And although I will sing, it will not necessarily be sweet music
But I will remember, always, that it is You who rescues me
You and You alone who can keep me safe
You and You alone who defeats my own self-defeat
So I will keep writing, keep teaching,
Keep telling of Your righteous help. Amen

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