I Feared the Psalms

I’m in the process of working my way through a Chronological Bible for my devotions.  Just in case you aren’t sure, a Chronological Bible does its best to present the events of Scripture in the order they occurred – at least in the opinion of the editors and/or scholars responsible for that Chronological Bible.  The one I have is also divided up into daily readings so that if you want you can get through the Bible in a year.

It’s been going ok so far.  Laws and genealogies always present a challenge for me as a reader as my mind wanders easily.  But I recently arrived at the part of the Chronological Bible I feared the most: The Psalms.  Allow me to explain.

psalms

The Psalms that are known to be linked to specific events have been included chronologically with those events in the Bible.  So they are spread out – which is good.  But there are a number of Psalms that aren’t linked to one specific event so the editors of this Bible simply created a space to insert the rest of the Psalms.  So there I was – facing a big pile of Psalms.  I’m talking at least twenty three days of Psalms to wade through.  Sometime more than one Psalm a day.

For some this may not seem like a daunting assignment but for me it is.  I am not now nor have I ever been any good with poetry.  Reading it – not good.  Understanding it – not good.  Appreciating it – nope.  Enjoying it – no.  Getting anything out of it – negative.  You get the picture.  Judge me if you must.  But read on because something happened as I made my way through the Psalms.

The way the writers talk about God is refreshing and very challenging.  They are honest with how they are feeling – brutally honest.  And they talk to and about God in ways that moved me.  Like He was real in their lives.  Like they expected Him to show up and be at work.  Like they could tell Him anything and everything.  And sometimes they talked about situations I couldn’t relate to (to my knowledge I’m not currently being hunted by my enemies).  But often I could relate because they talked about God in the midst of real life even everyday mundane life.  They found ways to recognize and celebrate God in every part of life.

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I want my talks with God to be more like that.  And I want my talks about God to be more like that.  Not the poetic part (still not my thing).  But the real life stuff.  I want to be honest with God instead of feeling like I have to be all proper and formal when I talk to Him.  I want to pray and think and dream with a bold faith that expects God to be present because He is present.  I want to notice and celebrate what God is doing in me and around me all the time.  Even in the mundane.

And I want this for all of us.  Too often we settle for routine, safe, lifeless prayer.  Too often we fail to celebrate or notice what God is up to in our midst.  Let’s help each other change that.  Let’s notice and celebrate God.  Let’s live lives of praise and thanksgiving and relentless obedience.  Let’s run to Him at every opportunity whether that is to cry out for help or to say thanks.  Let’s find ways to express and share the love He has shown to us.  Let’s find ways to use what He has given us to serve all the people He has placed us around.

We will need each other for this.  We will need to build very specific relationships for that to happen.  I can’t do it alone.  This “Psalm life” stuff will require more harmony living than solo living.  But that’s what God intended.  That’s His plan.  Let’s take Him up on that.  What a beautiful song we could make together.

Marc McAlister

Director of Church Health, FMCIC

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