Psalm 77

“I cry aloud to God…that God may hear me”
I am troubled so I seek God, but not for peace but for rebuke
“My soul refuses to be comforted
I think of God and I moan”; I try to pray and I fail.
Please and Praise
I try
Is it You, God, who keeps me restless and troubled
Is it You who keeps me focused on regrets and failures
Is it You would keeps me asking if You exist
And if You do exist, why do You seem not to care for me
Not to help me, not to let me feel, let me know
Your steadfast love, Your promised redemption, Your salvation
Your grace, Your mercy, Your compassion
Why do I feel oppressed by Your demands, Your displeasure
Please, Please, Please – I try to praise
I try to believe that it is me and not You
Who has failed in belief, in love
Help me, please, to remember all the times You have rescued me
Help me to remember all the times of peace I have found in You
Help me to remember and believe Psalm 1
Help me to meditate on Your power, Your might
Your ability to conquer my demons
Help my mind to follow Your holy path
To rejoice in Your greatness
“You are the God who works wonders”
You are MY God, my God who has proven Your power in my life
Time and again
You have redeemed me, not once for all, but over and over again
Saving me from drowning in my doubts
Saving me from the torrents of my despair
Saving me from the arrows of depression
That pierce my peace of mind
Overpowering the whirlwind of my feelings of defeat
Lighting up my darkness with Your faithfulness
That carried me through the raging seas of my doubts
So often I fail to see You, to recognize Your saving grace
Yet always You lead me, gentle my spirit
You give me Your saints
To guide and encourage me. Amen

TCOG

God “is our father; he is father to us all, whatever religion we are. We are all created by God, we are his children.” Mother Teresa

I think I make a mistake when I think of myself as a child of God. Because I think of myself as an ADULT child (much like I am an ACOA – Adult Child of an Alcoholic – I think of myself as an ACOG).

But I suspect it is closer to correct to think of myself as a TCOG – a toddler child of God. Like a toddler, I can cooperate or resist, but I can’t control my own life – and, more often then not, when I try to do so I get myself in trouble. I can control and manipulate my “toys” but for safety, security and all that is essential to my growth and well-being, I must rely on and cooperate with my Parent.

Psalm 78

For seventy-two verses
The psalmist recounts God’s faithfulness
To the unfaithful
God gets angry, She punishes, She casts away
But returns again and again
Her love stronger than anger
Faithful to the unfaithful
Finding the lost, saving the good
Defeating the powerful, discarding the evil
With plagues, She freed Her people from slavery
Opened the closed sea for their safe passage
Closed the open sea against their pursuers
Through the desert She led them
With cloud and fire, miracles and commandments
Despite their doubts and complaints
She quenched their thirst, satisfied their hunger
In the promised land She established them
Preserved them despite their failings
Despite their desertion again and again
Through defeat, even in Her anger, She loved them
After the winnowing, with the remnant, for the good
She established Her sanctuary
Brought Her people back to Jerusalem
And always She gave them
Moses and Miriam, David and Naomi, Jesus and Mary Magdala
All Herself
Shepherding Her people with truth and skill
I am Her people
I am Israel’s daughter
I follow until I wander
I believe until I doubt
I trust until I despair
I love until I become distracted, indifferent
I crave peace until I am hurt, angered
I am satisfied until I am envious
I laugh until I forget joy
I worship until I ignore my blessings
And still, always,
When I have flayed myself into pieces
When I am defeated, discouraged, depressed
When I have forgotten God
She remembers me
She rescues me, believes in me, loves me
She gathers the pieces of me
Saves the good, discards the rest
And brings me back to Her. Amen.

The Persistence of Notness

It’s so loud
Deafening, hurting my ears
The not hearing

It’s so hard
Bruising, hurting my body
The not touching

It’s so bright
Blinding, pressing my eyes
The not seeing

It’s so foul
Rotting, wrinkling my nose
The not smelling

It’s so bitter
Filling, fouling my mouth
The not tasting

It’s so complete
Crushing, pressing close
The not here

It’s so powerful
Shaping, twisting life
Death

Psalm 79

O God, I need help. My worst faults are defying my best efforts
Too often, I feel ruined, defiled, fit for nothing
I try, but I never seem to succeed for long
I feel scattered, drained, used up
Not really living but yet not dead
It feels like the more I try, the more defeated I become
How long, O God?
Won’t You help?
You can do what I can’t, but I do get tired of waiting
What am I waiting for?
Do I expect to wake up one day and be perfect?
All my struggles, all my trials, behind me?
Ah, that would be heaven.
Ha, yes, that would be heaven, only heaven
Never here on earth, never while I live here
But please, forget my failings and help me forget them
At least have compassion and help me have
Faith, Hope, Love
Help me, O God of my salvation,
For the glory of Your name
Deliver me and forgive my sins
For Your name’s sake
Else I am surely defeated
Restore me, free me,
Give me faith in life everlasting
Scatter, at least for a while,
Those faults and failings that preoccupy me
That hold me prisoner, smothering my hope
Restore me, free me,
So that, knowing myself to be Yours,
I can spend my time praising You
Rather than fighting myself. Amen

Psalm 80

Renew my faith, oh Conqueror Wisdom Woman
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

Hear me, see me, save me
You are Ruler, Leader, Guide, Savior for everyone
So stir Yourself for me
I know You have saved me – once for all
But knowing is not enough
I want to believe it
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror Wisdom Woman
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

I’m crying here, do You see my tears?
Do You know my fear, my despair?
I am so scared of the worst of me.
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror Wisdom Woman
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

I am baptized, educated in my faith
Bible-reading, devotion-doing, psalm-writing
I pray, I do good works, I care about social justice
I go to church, I go to Bible Study, I read the saints
And still I despair. And still I fail. And still I struggle
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror Wisdom Woman
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved

I always expect more from You and from myself, don’t I?
I look to You to defeat my enemies
Not believing that You already have
Like the psalmist, I bargain with You
Conquer my enemies, my fears, my problems
And I will never turn back from You
Give me life and I will call on Your name
How stupid, how foolish of me
To forget that You have already done it!
Renew my faith, oh Conqueror Wisdom Woman
Let Your light conquer my darkness
That I may see that I am saved.
Amen

Psalm 71

You are not going to leave me to my worst tendencies, now that I am old
Are You, God, my sweet Lady Wisdom?
I have nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to
No one else who can help, who can save me
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 sweeps 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 three 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

Psalm 72

In God alone – Creator, Redeemer Sustainer Wisdom Woman God
Is there justice and righteousness
Power to defeat my enemies
God alone can I trust to judge me with merciful righteousness
To have pity on my poor efforts
With God, my mountain-top gladness will be gladder still
With God, my oppressing valleys will be filled; my poor efforts will be blessed
I will be delivered from my worst troubles
And so may God be the sun and moon of my life, my eternity
May God bless my parched soul with Her own sweet water of eternal life
So that through all my days, I may live in God’s righteousness and peace
May God have dominion over all of my life
Waking and sleeping, highs and lows
Triumphs and disappointments, strengths and weaknesses
May my terrible Ds bow down before God because God can do what I cannot
God can ground my terribleness into dust
May I remember to give God the praise for my best
Let my worst – darkness, doubt, despair, doom-saying
Depression, disgust, deceit – fall down before God
For God delivers me when I am needy and call, when I am down, when I feel alone
Without help or hope for redeeming my worst mistakes: God delivers me, redeems me, renews me, loves me even
God takes pity on me and saves my eternal life
From my oppressive faults, my violence to myself and others, God saves me, redeems me, renews me, loves me
Long may God live in me, in my mind and heart; long may I give glory to God
Long may I turn to God in prayer and in thankfulness
May my life be turned around, yet again – one more time – and then again, so that I turn from the dark to the light, so that my days may be filled with peace and blessings for others, so that I may enrich God’s world
May God’s name endure forever in my heart, may God’s fame continue as long as I live under the sun
May I always – in all circumstances – bless God
Blessed be Lady Wisdom, the God of Sarah and Ruth, Esther and Mary
Who alone does wondrous things for me
Blessed be God’s glorious name forever, may Her glory fill my whole life.
Amen and Amen.

Psalm 73

Truly God is good to me – and sometimes I even manage to act like I deserve it – act like I am upright and pure in heart
But then, I stumble into doubt, slip into darkness
I stop valuing goodness and peace and start desiring prosperity and power
I want power, success, wealth; I imagine a better body, fewer problems, more self-confidence, more control is what I need to be happy
I fantasize about being better than others, above mundane problems, above heaven and earth
I imagine the praise and adulation I would have from others
They would look to me; their envy would sustain me; my success would quiet my doubts
Otherwise what do I have? What is the good of humility, godliness, innocence? What has it gotten me? What good has come of all my efforts?
No good, no good at all. I cannot quiet my demons, I cannot create my peace
Trying just wears me out
Only in Your house, only in Your grace, only in Your wisdom do I find peace
Only in You do I find the true power that destroys all the false gods that I worship, that I envy, that I think will be the answers I need
I wake to Your grace and my phantom gods disappear and shrink to small ugly things
Here I can do no better than make the psalmist present:
When my soul is embittered, when my heart is pricked with envy
Then I am stupid and ignorant, no better than an unthinking beast
But even then, even when I forget Your love, Your power, Your grace
Even then I am always in Your love, even then You hold onto me
Even then You wait for me to remember, You wait to welcome me back
Again and again
Whom have I in heaven but You? What should I desire but Your peace
All else fails, but You are the strength of my heart forever
Every mean and small part of me, all my terrible Ds, will perish
You will put an end to all my wrong-headedness, my false heartedness
You will keep me close, You will be my refuge, You will open my heart and my mouth to tell of Your power and grace. Amen

Psalm 74

Here is the psalm of my distress; here is my nightmare
Where is my peace? Where is my God? Does God exist?
God’s place in my heart, in my life, in my confidence
Is looking pretty damn desolate, destroyed, debased
Where is God’s holy place in my interior castle
Where has that great cloud of witnesses gone
Oh the imagery of the psalm is the imagery of my soul
The imagery of my deepest, darkest fears
My life, my belief, my trust, my faith and my hope
Line by line, verse by verse, this psalm limns my despair
My peace is hacked to anguished restlessness
My faith is hammered to dust
My hope is smashed, shattered
My life is ashes
The worst in me out shouts the best
The darkness in me blinds the light
Why does bitterness not start with a D?
God, oh God, where are You? Are You real?
How am I to go on believing, hoping, trusting
The psalmist has me turn to God’s creation
Seas and streams, night and day, crushed monsters
The psalmist may be impatient but never in doubt
Fearlessly, she calls to her God
Reminding her God of the power and the promise
Bold enough to command God
Do not forget the life of this poor person forever
So I turn to the psalmist
Though my world is dark and full of the violence of disbelief
And I borrow the courage of the psalmist to command God
Rise up in my mind, rise up in my heart, rise up in my spirit
That I may rise again and praise You. Amen