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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Psalm 72

In God alone – Creator, Redeemer Sustainer God – is there justice and righteousness; power to defeat my enemies

In 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 God’s 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, deceipt – 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 Yahweh, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things for me

Blessed be God’s glorious name forever, may God’s glory fill the whole earth. 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 power 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

Psalm 75

Thank You, God, for the times I feel You near
Thank You for the times I remember all You have done for me
Help me to remember that You will judge me
More fairly, more lovingly, than I judge myself
Help me to remember that it is in You that I find
Peace and security, though my world trembles
Please and Praise
Help me to remember that I cannot help myself
I cannot defeat my demon-enemies
The ones that are of my own making
The ones I carry inside
Not by insight, not by pills, not by counseling
Not by family, not by friends, not by accomplishments
Not even by prayer
Not I but You – You can put down the worst and lift up the best in me
You can poison all that poisons my peace
Then I will be able to rejoice forever
I will be able to sing Your praises, with that great cloud of witnesses
Help me to remember this
In You, all of my wickedness, all of my darkness will disappear
In You, because of You, my righteousness will shine. Amen