Thursday, March 20, 2014

Psalmody Psunday (errr, Ptuesday) -- Psalm 71

So Jenny and I have started this new bloggy thing--full explanation here. And yes, I'm posting two in one night, but I wrote the first at Jenny's kitchen table two weeks ago, and the second two days ago, waiting for my plane out of LAX, so I'm not quite as much of a slacker as it might seem. (And we did allow that while the alliterative fun of Psunday was too good to miss, we'd give ourselves all week to write, just in case.) 

Just in case you wanted to verify the facts.

This Week's Psalmody Psunday:
Psalm 71

I love how human this psalm is. A silly thing to say, I suppose, but I try to remind myself as I read Scripture that it is God-breathed but written by plain old normal humans. In this psalm (and many others), you can nearly see the shake in the psalmist's hand as she wrote. (Yeah, I said it. Prove me wrong.) I love the psalms for this reason, perhaps above all: that they come from a human--and thus broken--place. (That's not to say they don't speak truth!) And maybe I say this only because I have written this psalm in my head and out loud a hundred times, and all-too-easily recognize the pendulum swings:

      1) Brave--but surface-level--hope: "You alone are my hope. I've trusted you, O Lord, from childhood..." (v. 5)       2) Gut-wrenching--but honest--fear: "Don't set me aside. Don't abandon me when my strength is failing." (v. 9)      3) Deeper-than-gut promise: "But I will keep on... All day long I will proclaim your saving power" (v. 14-15)      4) Quiet, residual rest: "Then I will praise you...because you are faithful to your promises, O God." (v. 22)

This is a pendulum I know well. So well it might seem I carved it myself: scraping it down with fingernails, varnishing it with tears. I know this psalm because I have lived it, and because I still do. Like the psalmist, I've known of God since early childhood, and have every reason to rely on him wholly. But this fear, this certainty that at some point You will run out of rope for me, that I will exhaust You, become too much or not measure up, still lingers. I can point to my history and see too many places where this has been true, where human hands have lifted and left. And with hindsight I know Yours have remained--but the fear is there, too. And the fear can rip through me, can rupture me until I don't even remember where it started--like leaving an empty island only to be overwhelmed by open sea. But a simple prayer--a psalm--and the waters calm, lower, part. Sometimes I can cross them back to home on dry land, sometimes I have to swim, flailing, but every time the pendulum falls: fear will swell but faith soothes--because faith stands rooted in truth. It is the sea floor. It is the path home. The waters recede, and like Noah, like the psalmist, I find music is the only thing that hopes to answer well enough. A soul-cry of praise--this truths started with remained through the fear. I start to say the truth was immovable, but that is not at all true--it came to seek me, find me, save me.

[Drafter's Note: I wrote this psalm before I got some gut-wrenching news. Nothing to be shared on the blogosphere, but as I reread and edited this, I was washed over by this psalm again. Swing, pendulum, swing.]

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