Archive | April, 2020

That Day of the Psalms Pandemic Aha

27 Apr

I have a confession: My spiritual life has been a little inconsistent during this pandemic. 

Am I the only one?

It’s not for lack of trying. I have been consistent in attempts.  I have started off nearly every day of this stay-home business with the posture and intention of spending time praying, reading the Bible, deepening my relationship with Jesus. 

I sit in my “queen spot” in the front room, the chase lounge part of the sectional sofa. It looks out to the east, the morning light streaming in as I sip my coffee and seek to connect with the Lord.

Some days, I do. It’s awesome. Some days, though, not. Even with all the available tools and helps for prayer, worship, and meditation, I have struggled. I mix it up — sometimes starting off with a scripture meditation app (Abide); other times my focus is the “homework” for one of my two Bible studies; other days I seek inspiration from various devotional books, like “Jesus Calling;” and then there’s the “classic” just reading the Bible (in print or via app or website).

Rarely, though, do I start with just plain old reading the Bible – reading along until I have an “aha moment” and then camping there for a while like I used to. In the current life climate, I seem to have trouble staying focused for an extended period (ok, for more than 10 minutes!) and I have a need for the structure and accomplished feeling of having an “assignment” for the day and then completing it.

Until this week, that is.

My church started a series on Psalms, an Old Testament collection of divinely inspired poetry by several authors, encompassing every human emotion — from deep, anguished lament, angst, and regret, to sheer joy, thankfulness and exultation. Oh how timely! (And, for the “assignment need,” there’s a cool calendar chart that has a reading schedule to get us through all of the Psalms in the course of a month. Check lists are my new love language.)

Truthfully, though, the first few days in the Psalms, I felt like I was just going through the motions (to check off the reading boxes).

This past week ended on a really rough note (a blog post for another time). Saturday morning, I awoke feeling depleted, mentally and emotionally exhausted, and anxious. I decided to continue with the morning Psalms devotional time even though I was yearning to run away from my feelings and start prepping for our interior paint project. (When you can’t control anything else, control your environment, right?)

I did not approach God with an enthusiastic heart. Grudgingly, I sat in my spot, opened my Bible and began reading that day’s Psalms. 

Psalm 3….check

Psalm 33…check

And then…Psalm 63 — specifically verses 5-8 (English Standard Version).

“My soul will be satisfied…

my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 

when I remember you upon my bed

and meditate on you in the watches of the night;

for you have been my help and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. 

My soul clings to you; 

your right hand upholds me.”

Wow. Wow. Wow. One of our pastors said that while we may have read the Psalms before, as I have, with each reading, the Lord could meet us in a new place, depending on what we are experiencing at the time. Such is the Living Word of God.

As I read, and reread, a great swell of encouragement engulfing me, I played out this conversation in my head:

Me: When things are up in the air, in limbo, God, I feel anxious (did I mention I like to check off boxes???) 

God: praise me with joyful lips and you will be satisfied.

Me: I can’t fall asleep because my mind races and I fret about what is to come and what has already happened (I’ve got all day to think about what happened 20 years ago….why must I do it at 11:30 at night???)

God: Remember me upon your bed and meditate on me. 

Me: But I don’t know what’s going to happen!

God: Remember that I have been your help.

Me: I’m scared of the unknown and what might be.

God: Just rest in the shadow of my wings.

Me: I feel I need to do something, but I don’t know what to do.

God: Sing for joy.

Me: But are you really there?

God: Yes. My right hand upholds you.

Me: What about when I feel worried?

God: Reach for me. Your soul can cling to me.

And just like that, in Month Two of a global pandemic, with both internal and external events challenging me to the core, I am reminded that I am not alone, that God hears my cries and knows my anxious heart — and he’s not surprised about it. He’s got me, just like he’s got all who rely on him, just like he had Moses, Abraham, and David, who wrote this Psalm.

God has been faithful to his people throughout the generations. Why would he stop now?

Thank you, Lord, the living God, my Savior Jesus.