Lizzie Reynolds continues a new series of reflections on the Psalms. This week, Lizzie will lead us through Psalm 38.
Welcome Tyndale. Welcome to Abide. A journey through the Psalms, and today our meditation will be on Psalm 38. A Psalm of David, a petition.
I hope you've been able to find a place in your home, or wherever you are, to be still and to be quiet. To pull away from the hustle and bustle, of your week, of your day and to be able to close the door, and to bring your gaze inward. Where the father waits for you and waits for me.
So grab your blanket, and let's begin to pause and to be still.
Taking a nice deep breath in through the nose, and then exhale out, just releasing any tension in the body in the mind and the heart that you're carrying. Let's do that one more time. Inhale through the nose, and exhale out nice and slow, extending that exhale just making sure you're releasing any burden, any extra thinking about what you just did, or what you're going to do after this prayer time, just allow it to rest at your side right now.
Today's gratitude practice we will begin by using our five senses, and I realize that many of us, our five senses are working very well, but there are others where maybe we don't have five senses working. Maybe only four work well. Maybe even three work well.
And so, as we walk through this gratitude, practice, may you be present with your body and with your experience, and what's not your experience that I am sharing. Just allow my voice and thoughts to fade away, OK?
And so we’ll begin this time in gratitude for our eyes, and for our sight.
I want you to just think about the things that your eyes have been able to see in the last 24 hours, or maybe it'll even be in the last 48 hours. Have you been able to see a snowfall gently? Sun rise or set? A bright moon or star? What about seeing faces of friends, even if it be over zoom? Have you been able to see a tidy room or a space around you that you're proud of? Or a bookshelf you've recently organized, that you can say, wow, that looks really good!
What have your eyes seen, and share that gratitude and that beauty and peace to the creator of your eyes. I really believe the Lord speaks to us through our senses so that we can experience him more deeply, more right at home within our very grasp.
What about our sense of smell? What have you smelled in the last few days? Some fresh clean air? What about a scent of a soap or a lotion or anything that just makes you feel calm? What about freshly laundered clothing that's clean? The smell of a meal being prepared, or one that you're preparing.
Speak to God, the creator of your nose and of the art of smelling, about what you have experienced in this way.
Taste. It says in your word “Taste and see that the Lord is good”. Tasting things is pretty amazing. So whether you've tasted a really rich coffee or a tea. Even clean water. What about a meal that's full of flavours from different spices and herbs? So amazing, all that we can taste. Speak to God, our creator, of how you've experienced his presence and his provision. Through your sense of taste.
Our sense of touch. I know recently for me just putting mittens and a scarf and a hat on has made me feel warm in the midst of these very cold days, knowing that I have that warmth around me is so encouraging, or putting on boots so that you can be safe from all of the salt and snow.
What about when sun shines through your room even while you're on a zoom call and it falls upon your face, or maybe you're back, and you're warmed by it. You can feel that, what it feels like. What does it feel like to sit in a comfortable chair or in a comfortable bed that's supportive? Or the feeling of your pet, or of a hug of someone who lives in your home.
Spend time now speaking to God about your sense of touch and how he has reached out to you in this way to communicate his love and his protection.
And Lastly, hearing.
Have you been able to hear the wind, or wind chimes? What about the voice of a family member that you can't physically be with, but you can hear over the phone? What about a piece of music, that hearing it makes you weep or rejoice? Or the sound of laughter. Or maybe it's just sounds in the kitchen of putting dishes away or getting pots and pans out for dinner to be prepared. Just the sound of life happening.
Spend this last bit of time in gratitude with your hearing.
Oh Lord, thank you that experiencing you can be really simple. We can just awaken our senses and know that you are here. And from this heart space Lord we transition into reading your word. Open our hearts to be awake to these words. May your spirit guide these words into our souls for healing, for awakening, and just companionship on the journey.
Psalm 38, a Psalm of David, a petition. Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Your arrows have pierced me, and your hand has come down on me. Because of your wrath, there is no health in my body. There is no soundness in my bones because of my sin. My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear and my wounds fester, and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. I am bowed down and brought very low. All day long I go about mourning. My back is filled with searing pain and there is no health in my body. I am feeble and utterly crushed, and I grow in anguish of heart. All my longings lie open before you Lord and my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart pounds and my strength fails me. Even the light has gone from my eyes. My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds. My neighbors stay far away and those who seek my life set their traps. Those who would harm me talk of my ruin and all day long they scheme and lie. I am like the deaf who cannot hear, like the mute who cannot speak. I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. Lord, I wait for you. You will answer, Lord my God, for I said, do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip. For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity. I am troubled by my sin. Many have become my enemies without cause, and those who hate me without reason are numerous. Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, and though I seek only to do what is good. Lord, do not forsake me. Do not be far from me, my God. Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Saviour.
This Psalm is challenging to read. It's intensely personal, a plea of David, a plea of forgiveness. Where he deeply acknowledges his sin, confesses his sin. Explains how sin has taken a heavy toll on him physically, spiritually, emotionally, socially. He is at the end of his rope.
Have you ever been here? Where David is? He seems unable to speak, only able to wait on the Lord, and finally, in the depths of despair, he confesses and asks for help.
This is a very vulnerable Psalm. Maybe one that we're all not very comfortable to be in for too long. I heard it said once, as a species, we should never underestimate our low tolerance for discomfort. David is very uncomfortable. He's ashamed and he's in the presence of his Father, his lover, his friend and he is deeply wounded, humbled, at the end of his rope. And so we're going to take some time to gaze within ourselves where some of this might pertain to us today.
Verse 4 says my guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear. My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly, and I about I am bowed down and I'm brought very low. I'm feeble and utterly crushed.
I wonder if we could take a little time to open to God around our sin and our separation from him. I know for me these days I've said to God I've made plans God and I've had expectations and they've all been crushed. And I'm grieving and I'm broken. I have foolishly expected things and expected experiences to just happen, because they've happened to others. What do I do and how do I live without all my goals and without my plans? I realize I'm hurting because I'm not able to receive all the things I planned.
And yet they were not promised to me, or set in stone, and yet I have foolishly gone ahead and made my own way. I seem to have lost the ability to really just live. To live in a day without plans.
Teach me, Lord, how to live in a day and not feel the need to look ahead and have it all set before me. Forgive me for planning my own life and then crying about it when it doesn't happen. Thank you that you hold us tenderly in our disappointments.
Verse 17 says “For I'm about to fall in my pain is ever with me. I confess my iniquity, and I'm troubled by my sin.”
I realize Lord, in my sorrow I have turned to things that that hurt me, that hurt my body. I've clung to relationships that that do not satisfy, and I've required those relationships to fill me, and they never will. I confess there's addictions that I cling to that hurt my body, and can leave me sick and broken. Lord, I'm so humbled and I'm vulnerable before you in how I deal with my own sin.
Grow a spaciousness within my heart to come to you with my hurts and my failures and my weaknesses and, which give me wisdom to make nourishing choices in the midst of that vulnerability, and not to make choices that would further hurt me, or hurt others.
Verse 13 says “I am like the deaf who cannot hear, and like the mute who cannot speak, and I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply.”
Lord, in my sorrow and in my sin, I have become blinded. It seems as though I so long to be with friends and family that I can't be, that I have forgotten the precious ones that live in my home. I've forgotten about the beauty of the faces and the places that I am able to be in.
Oh Lord, open my eyes to have loving gracious, grateful Heart for the people that are in my space, my home, my apartment me. I realize how precious they are, and not always be dreaming to be with others.
I confess, Lord, that I read books and listen to podcasts just to get another idea for a paper or a talk or a prayer or a sermon. I’ve forgotten how to just read your word and allow it to enliven my heart. To enjoy and soak in your words. With what I read in my courses, or in my lectures that I get to hear, I've lost the ability to wonder and to love and to be appreciative of these words in the way I'm learning, without just being burdened by another paper or a reflection.
Forgive me Father. Open my eyes to the people around me, open my eyes to the words that I read. May these objects awaken me to see all I have, all the people around me. Have mercy, I need your help for this God.
I'm going to read through the Psalm one more time in a translation I've read before by Nan Meryl, and as we've experienced David opening himself to God with such vulnerability, and we too now have had some time to be vulnerable with our sin, with our hardened hearts, with our own weaknesses and sorrows.
Made this reading wash over us and allowing these words to even go deeper, into our opening to uncomfortable words and feelings, and yet, knowing in this discomfort brings a spacious heart. One that can go more intimate with you, Father.
Help us to be brave, to explore these places in ourselves. Knowing your love is there.
All beloved in your mercy, forgive me, and in your compassion raise me up, for arrows of fear pierce my heart, and guilt weighs heavy upon me.
I live in confusion, fear and despair because of my illusions. My body responds with illness because of my stubbornness. Ignorance casts me Into Darkness. I grope in every direction, searching in vain.
Because of foolishness, my heart has turned to stone. I am utterly bowed down, overcome with remorse.
I spend my days in mourning and pray for mercy throughout the night. I acknowledge my weakness, O loving presence. Illness has taken over me. My energy is depleted and my spirit crushed. I groan under the tumult of my heart.
Beloved, all my longing is known to you. My sighing is not hidden from you, my heart throbs endlessly, and my strength fails me.
Even the light of my eyes, it also has disappeared. My friends and companions have no time for me, and my family stays at a distance. The tempter knows well my weakness and lays a snare in my path. Those who choose the darkness are ever at my door seeking my company.
Like someone who is deaf, I do not hear. Like one who is dumb, I do not speak. Yet, yes, I pretend not to hear because I'm afraid to rebuke those who lead me astray.
For you alone, beloved, do I wait. You alone, oh gracious one will answer my cry. I pray, be my strength, uphold me when I am weak and paralyzed with fear, for I seem ready to fall and my pain is always with me.
I confess my shortcomings and I'm sorry for my transgression. No longer will I listen and follow the ego's wily ways. They lead me only to despair and separate me from love. I feel like a child again, ready to learn life lessons of peace. I choose to walk in the light.
I no longer feel separated from you, oh, beloved. I know I am one with all. You have rolled away the stone from my heart.
Oh Lord, my beloved friend. Lord, help us to take the sacred space of vulnerability of sharing hard things with you. Let us open to this space because this will be a practice to our dying day of coming to you with our shortcomings, and yet in that we receive your forgiveness. We receive that intimate love, in Grace.
We take this reflection. We take this intimate connection with you into the rest of our day, and we say Glory be to the Father and to the Son, and to the Spirit. As it was in the beginning, as it is now, and as it ever shall be. World without end.
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