“I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord.” (Psalm 104:33-34)
As we look toward Christmas next week, and the start of a new year after that, I look forward to new experiences, to celebrating the birth of Christ, to the new year, to Lent, to Spring, to Good Friday, to Easter, to the summer. My family has had a lot of changes in the past year and a half, passages spent, seasons gone: my husband lost his mom; my dad passed away; we lost two dogs – one younger, one old; we gained two kittens, now cats; we gained a new dog, full of energy and life; we had a couple of memorable, life-giving vacations; we sold our house in Southern California, quite the ordeal; our son and daughters each have had crossroads in their lives, each on his or her own journey (I’m proud of each of them); my mom gave us her property in Oregon, where I grew up; my husband had too many skin cancer surgeries but was otherwise healthy; some of our church family has had some serious health issues; we moved to a new building to worship in; we’ve made new friends; our family will be together again for Christmas.
One thing that hasn’t changed is God – “Jesus Christ is the same today and yesterday and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
One thing that hasn’t changed is his Word – “Forever, O Lord, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89)
I’ve been reading recently about the book of Psalms, how it was Jesus’ daily songbook, and how it’s ours. NT Wright’s book The Case for the Psalms: Why They Are Essential is wonderful. It has inspired me to look at the psalms in a different light, and to put them on my daily Bible reading list. He talks about how they relate in time, space and matter, and are full of emotion; how reading them can change us in how we relate to God, can grow us as we take root, just like the tree by the stream of water in Psalm 1.
Throughout the book, he highlights different psalms. His favorite is Psalm 104; CS Lewis’ favorite was Psalm 19. But there are so many good ones, as Wright points out. Who can do without Psalm 139 when we need to remember that God is always with us and knows us intimately? Where would we be without praising God together in Psalm 150 and so many others? When we feel deeply downcast, we can read Psalm 42 and know we are not alone in this strong emotion. Psalm 51 gives us words to repent. Psalm 62 tells us to wait for the Lord, and Psalm 73 gives us hope, for God is our portion.
The Afterword alone is worth the price of the book, where NT Wright talks about “My Life with the Psalms,” giving some life examples of when the psalms helped him, when he felt connected to God through them. He gives a few examples of how God spoke to him in certain incidents, using the psalms – some with humor, some with encouragement, some with deep empathy.
What are some incidents in your life where God used his word to bring you closer to him? Write them down or tell someone; these times are encouraging to others as well as ourselves. I sometimes recite Scripture to myself if I’m in a trying situation, like a couple of months ago when I was having root canal. I started out with Psalm 34, since it’s a song …
I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise will continually be in my mouth…
I had to stop! I didn’t think it was possible for me to feel this way in a dental chair, but I had to stop myself from physically laughing, so they could continue with the work! God and I had a good (inside) laugh together.
God is good. His promises are sure. He is for us and not against us. He never leaves us. He helps us. He is worthy for all our worship. He loves us completely and infinitely. He is unchanging, throughout all of our changing seasons. I don’t think I need anything else for Christmas, I’ve got it all! Merry Christmas!
Kelly can be reached via email.