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Tell of His Deeds: A Community Post

 Psalm 75

We praise you, God,
    we praise you, for your Name is near;
    people tell of your wonderful deeds. – Psalm 75:1 (NIV)

 

Today I thought we might do something a little different. Some days, it’s difficult to feel that God is near. Some seasons, it’s difficult to find words to speak about God’s deeds, because His actions don’t seem all that great.

 

One of the most beautiful aspects of the Psalms is that they were sung and read in community. People walked through difficult prayers together and uplifted praise together. Arm in arm, they pushed forward and reached up and journeyed through life with God on their lips.

 

I wish we did a little more of that in our world today.

 

So I wonder about doing that in response to today’s Psalm. I wonder about sharing our stories with one another. The little and big ways we see God’s deeds today. The times in which we have felt Him come near.

 

If you are a reader, but not normally a commenter in this space, would you consider leaving a note today? Would you share a bit of yourself with me and with us? Would you tell us why you could find words of praise on your lips today? And if you are normally a commenter, would you share the same thing?

 

Whether your comment is small or grandiose, eloquent or simple, it doesn’t matter. The point is not to impress one another. The point is to help each other.

 

Maybe we can loan each other our eyes if only for a few moments, to see how God is good and active and pouring His grace out upon the world.

 

Let’s tell of His deeds. Let’s talk of His mighty works. Let’s give each other examples of His nearness.

 


That was my reflection on Psalm 75. Please link up with your reflection below. And don’t forget to leave a comment here! Then join us next week for a reflection on Psalm 76.

 

Measuring yourself and finding true

“Measure twice, cut once.”

 

Whenever doing a project, this is the mantra to repeat. Because unless you get things lined up, level, square, and correct, the project won’t turn out. The end result will be frustration. It’s tedious and annoying and oh so important.

 

It’s important to make things true.

 

That’s the word chosen to describe this process. Things are true when they fit. When they are lined up. When they are where they are supposed to be.

 

True.

 

I often cut myself without measuring first. I compare, I rush, I seek accolades, without first defining who I am and what I was put on earth to do.

 

I am created by an artistic God. I am cared for by a loving Father. I am rescued by a beautiful Savior. I am strengthened by a powerful Spirit.

 

This is how I need to measure myself. Twice, three times, or more, in order to find my trueness. The way that I fit in this world.

 

Anything else puts me off-kilter, crookedly hanging on the walls of life.

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: TRUE.

Singing about the breaking point

The breaking point.

 

It comes at different times and various places, but most of us reach it at some point in our lives. The feelings of anguish, grief, and I-just-can’t-take-it-anymore frustration burst out of us.

 

A rant, a sob, the violent brushstrokes of tortured art- somehow or another, an outlet must be found before we choke on that which we can no longer keep down.

 


 

psalm 74The people of Israel reached the breaking point.

 

The Promised Land never really was the paradise they expected. There seemed to be a “but God, didn’t you say?” question with each battle and each disappointment that came their way. Their leaders waxed and waned in their faithfulness to Yahweh, which led to cycles of idol worship, sin, battles, and repentance among the people.

 

But still, God seemed with them. For them. Still leading them to a time that would be different.

 

Yet at the end of the tunnel, they didn’t find light. They found destruction. A take-over by an enemy people who destroy their sacred temple and lead them away to exile.

 

They reached the breaking point.

 

Asaph’s response was to write Psalm 74.

 

For awhile, this Psalm dances on the sharp edges between anger and despair, the quiet pleading of someone who has been shattered by life.

 

O God, why have you rejected us forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?

 – Psalm 74:1

We are given no signs from God;
    no prophets are left,
    and none of us knows how long this will be.
How long will the enemy mock you, God?
    Will the foe revile your name forever?
– Psalm 74:9-10

 

Then, in strange contrast, the words make turn. The song marches on into a tribute to God’s faithfulness.

 

But God is my King from long ago;
he brings salvation on the earth.
– Psalm 74:12

 

You are the King. You bring salvation.  It was you who split the sea. It was you who created this earth. It was you.

 

I wonder if these words were sung through gritted teeth. What does praise in the midst of splintered emotion sound like? I hear him shouting, “It was you who did these great things! I think I still believe that, somewhere underneath this rubble. Yet that makes me wonder all the more… where are you now?!?”

 

God, where are you now, when I am at my breaking point?

 

Rise up, O God, and defend – Psalm 74:22

 

Help me. Please. I am broken and desperate and buried in my misery and need you. Rise up from wherever you are hidden.

 


 

Sometimes I forget that the Psalms are a sort of hymnal, recorded in the words of the Holy Scriptures.

 

These are words that would have been sung by the people when they gathered together for worship.

 

This breaking point Psalm would have been sung together by the people of Israel, years after they returned from exile.

 

Their hymnody, their liturgy, their songs of praise to their God, chose to remember the bad along with the good. The lyrics were complex and raw and aching with the reality of life.

 


 

I wonder what would happen if our modern worship songs reflected the kind of heartache that echoes in the Psalms. What if we chose to sing about the times God let us down right before singing about the 10,000 reasons we have to praise Him?

 

I wonder what they would feel like to a visitor, walking in off the street, wondering if church is worth it, if the people can be trusted with his pain. Would the accessibility of those songs bring some relief to his heavy heart?

 

What if our worship became a place of hope for the broken? What if our songs projected the hope that we are a people who have experienced loss and are ready to walk in the mess beside those who are in pain?

 

It seems to me there is value in singing about our breaking points as much as we sing about our highlights. Maybe that is a lesson the Psalms are meant to teach us.

 


 

That is my reflection on Psalm 74. Please link up below with your own thoughts, and read the words of others. Then join us next week for Psalm 75.

She walks in beauty

she walks in beauty“She walks in beauty…”

 

The opening line of Lord Byron’s poem is on repeat in my thoughts. The words linger and sink low. They weigh me down with a deep sense of longing that cannot be satisfied.

 

I want to be that woman. The one who would inspire poetry by simply walking in a room. Beauty and grace floating with her like an aura. Unavoidably knitted into the fabric of who she is.

 

I believe that looks do not define a person. I know that I am loved unconditionally by my Creator. I understand that I am not an accident.

 

And yet… and yet… it’s so easy to burn with jealousy towards those who seem so flawless. Who can stumble out of the house with a messy bun and a five minute make-up routine and still turn every head when they stroll down the aisles of a store.

 

Is it the brokenness of my own heart or the influences of our culture that cause my eyes to magnify my own flaws and see only the stunning perfection of others?

 

(I ran out of time, and had to leave this post unresolved. Just keeping it real today, I guess.)

 

Five Minute FridayThis post is linking up with Lisa Jo Baker’s Five Minute Friday. A weekly prompt with strict instructions: write for 5 minutes and post. No over-editing. No do-overs. An practice of freedom. A way to let go of perfectionism. An exercise for some not often used writing muscles. Read more posts or link up over there. Today’s prompt was: SHE.
(Full disclosure: I write the post in 5 minutes, but I take a little extra time to create a graphic to go with it. I think that’s still okay according to the rules…)

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