In the Lord I put my trust; How can you say to my soul, “Flee as a bird to your mountain”? For look! The wicked bend their bow, They make ready their arrow on the string, That they may shoot secretly at the upright in heart.
Many of us worry and live in fear. Yes, we are to be wise in our comings and goings; we shouldn’t recklessly put ourselves in dangerous situations. But, often, I think we shy away too much from situations when we don’t trust the Lord. How many of us think, or even say “I don’t want to go to that part of town” when it’s in just “that” neighborhood that people need to hear the Gospel.
Others are preoccupied with stuff and with socking away money for retirement. I don’t recall reading about any of the saints in scripture retiring. We fell prey to the “building bigger barns” syndrome when we bought a house that was larger than we really needed just because we could. And then it was a struggle to maintain.
In this election year, many struggle with the issue of our future as a country. I can’t even begin to wrap my head around all the strange and scary things I read and hear daily. Truly I have to lay this all at the feet of Christ, for I can only pray and trust. I don’t understand the whys, but I know it’s in His hands. Always has been.
Verses 3-4 of Psalm 11 say:
If the foundations are destroyed, What can the righteous do? The Lord is in His holy temple, The Lord’s throne is in heaven; His eyes behold, His eyelids test the sons of men.
This is how Dale Ralph Davis puts it in The Way of the Righteous
in the Muck of Life: “Despair is managed by keeping Yahweh himself in the center of your vision.” I thought this was a great summation.
And let me leave you with this one last quote from Davis: “You have not seen Jesus yet you love Jesus. Christians are such conundrums.”
….there are seasons in a believer’s life – and sometimes the seasons change suddenly…Faith is perplexed and yet goes on pleading. The psalmist does not use God’s baffling him as an excuse for disengaging with God but as an incentive to press on with him. from – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
I don’t know just what season I’m in right now. It’s like the rainy season – sprinkled with showers of doubt; covered in clouds of despair. But sometimes, the clouds will break up and the sun will shine through and I am reminded that God is still there, always there, even when I doubt.
The Psalm begins this way in verses one and two:
Why do You stand afar off, O Lord Why do You hide in times of trouble?
The wicked in his pride persecutes the poor; let them be caught in the plots which
they have devised.
Why? I’m always wondering why. I find myself too full of questions and doubt. But, the psalmist sees that God is good in verse fourteen:
But You have seen, for You observe trouble and grief, To repay it by Your hand.
The helpless commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.
And again in verses 17-18:
Lord, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart;
You will cause Your ear to hear, To do justice to the fatherless and the oppressed,
That the man of the earth may oppress no more.
My prayer for myself is that God would change my whys into words of trust. That I would
trust in Him to shelter me in the days of darkness and give me joy in the rays of His grace.
“ …in tight places you have made space for me.” – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
David was almost killed by a javelin thrown by Saul, his house was watched by Saul’s henchmen, he was let down through a window and escaped; yet in all this he pleas for and relies on the grace and mercy of God. Oh to have the faith of David!
I can’t say I’ve had the experiences of David. We all have our own trials and temptations, but God knows this. He knows our needs even before we do. I do know that God has relieved me in many distresses but I also know I have clung to crumbling walls and fretted over failures instead of giving my burdens to Him. My prayer today is for mercy.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” – William Wordsworth
photo by photouten
This is good advice to someone who has something to say and has a knack for saying it well. I’m not talking about stuff like, “Good morning! Today I am doing to have decaf instead of regular coffee…. blah blah blah”. That’s okay for a morning conversation with your cat, but it’s not the breathings of your heart.
I’m thinking poetry, or personal reflections of a somewhat serious nature. If you are willing to share some of your soul with others, I can guarantee you there is an audience out there longing for your words. No, not everyone will want to read your thoughts, but someone will. Someone may need to hear what you have to say to help them get through a hard time. Your words may be just the right ones at just the right time that could make a difference to someone.
Even if no one does read your words, just the filling of the paper can do wonders for YOU. And, who knows? That practice of getting your words down may be just what you need to encourage yourself. It may lead one day to sharing with the world.
Rebecca Curtis, author of Twenty Grand and Other Tales of Love and Money, says a writer should be “willing to write drivel in a notebook every day, with the idea that not everything you write should be for the purpose of publication.”
Writing in a notebook everyday is good advice. I keep a notebook in my purse and use it for all kinds of writing, from story idea lists to sermon notes in church to what I need to get at the grocery store.
One thing Curtis said that I thought was really good advice is that not everything you write is suitable for publication. Really, I don’t want to hear about your problems with pooping or how much sugar someone puts in their tea, UNLESS it is woven into a tale worth telling.
Use each word in the line (or lines) as an end word in your poem.
Keep the end words in order.
Give credit to the poet who originally wrote the line (or lines).
The new poem does not have to be about the same subject as the poem that offers the end words.
For example, if you pull a line with six words, your poem would be six lines long. If you pull a stanza with 24 words, your poem would be 24 lines long. And so on.
I chose this excerpt from Emily Dickinson:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
As long as you are alive there is hope That’s what I say there is That is the thing, the Only thing I’m left with Hope and feathers What is that? There it perches Tell it to come in To come in the soul, in the Soul And Listen as it sings It sings the tune, the Tune Within, without Without the words, the Words Without the music and Music that never Stops That’s where it’s at That is all
“Mace, did you ever think that all those people in those cars have a whole separate story to them, that it’s just as important to them as our stuff is to us, and we don’t know anything about it. Maybe sometime we’ll run across somebody and two years ago they were driving past us on the highway and we never knew it.” – Tex to Mason from Texby S.E. Hinton
I often find myself thinking along the same lines as Tex. I look at crowds of people and I wonder what all their stories are – where they are going and what they are doing and thinking. I think about what little specks we are. I even have these thoughts about old buildings. I wonder about the history of the building; what it was originally and what changes it’s been through. I think about all the people that have passed through its doors. I am curious if there is something hidden behind the walls.
I also think about how cool it would be to go back in time. Oh, the things I would do differently. But, sometimes I’d like to go back as a bystander – to see how what I remember really compares to what transpired. And I’d have a notebook to record all those wonderful stories that have slipped away forever from my mind.
“I learned much later – after he was dead, in fact, the time when we so often learn fundamental things about our parents…” – from One Writer’s Beginnings by Eudora Welty
Why is it it takes so long sometimes for us to understand each other? Why didn’t I understand as a teenager that everything Dad threatened was not actually what he would do? I didn’t appreciate what a challenging task he faced in trying to parent when he barely remembered his own father. I didn’t appreciate how difficult it must have been to be a good father when he’d been brought up without one. It must have been especially hard to know what to do with me, his only girl. I can’t remember him saying “I love you,” until after I started college.
I didn’t realize how much he wanted me to succeed. He supported my desire to go to college and I wanted to follow in his footsteps, so I majored in marketing. He didn’t say a lot when I got engaged after two years, and got married instead of returning to school. Except for right before he walked me down the aisle. My hand was in the crook of his arm when he turned to me and asked, “Are you sure?”
He always seemed to struggle with showing his concern. Sometimes he was too hard on me. Sometimes, because he worried, he didn’t say anything at all. He didn’t show excitement when I got pregnant, but then he would warm up to the idea over time, or maybe he became resigned to the fact that there was nothing he could do about it. By the third pregnancy I decided I wouldn’t care what he thought, and by the fourth I think he realized we were going to be okay. But, no matter what, he was there or on his way to the hospital with each birth. He was happy to be a grandpa.
I missed him so much when, after having four kids, I finally walked across the stage to receive my degree in Elementary Education. I wish my children had been able to spend more time with him; to grow into the special nickname he had for each one of them. My oldest was 15 when Dad died. He wasn’t there for any graduations, or the wedding of that oldest, or the birth of his two great grandchildren.
I tell my husband and my son “Happy Father’s Day” , but I wish I could still say it to Dad.