Wednesday, June 17, 2020

A Year in the Psalms

I finished up my year-in-the-Psalms book in May. It was a bittersweet ending. Sweet, because I've  rarely summoned up the discipline to complete a year-long devotional commitment. Bitter, because as I neared the end I didn't really want it to end. When I started, I little guessed that the already-long-and-dark valley I was traveling would only grow longer and darker in the coming months. 

But God knew. It's no accident that I started this book when I did, after it had been languishing on my shelf for about a year (there were even a few entries from not one, but two failed attempts to start it). At the time, I knew that I needed to commune with Him, but I couldn't have known just how much I would need that communion in the coming year -- my heart already heavy with loss, I carried and grieved three more babies as I journeyed through those pages. 

God met with me in the Psalms. In the depths of my grief I began to understand lament, which had always seemed a bit foreign before. When I couldn't express the intensity of pain or praise, He gave me words. The Word.  When I would have lingered -- wallowed, even -- in the darkness, lines penned by divinely-inspired ancient poets drew my eyes back to His steadfast love, His faithfulness, His nearness. God met with them, too, when they traveled the darkest valleys of life. Their raw honesty resonated with my soul. Their passion for God and His law humbled me. 

As I neared the end, I knew that I wanted to keep reading the Psalms regularly. Much as I loved the little book that's been my companion through so much joy and grief, it's not ideal for re-use (and the way it was divided up was sometimes clumsy). I'm certainly not ready to part with this book yet, because it has all of my notes and reflections inside! But it was time to move on to something that would lend itself to years of study. I chose the ESV Psalms Illuminated Scripture Journal, which is both lovely and inexpensive. It has plenty of space for journaling, and the blank pages have a grid of faint dots so that you can write or illustrate neatly (this isn't an ad, by the by! I just love good books. *wink*). 

The Psalms have become a familiar and necessary rhythm in my life. Because unlike physical food that satiates as it's eaten, consuming God's Word leads to deeper cravings. The more I know Him, the more I want to know. There are so many facets of His character in the Psalms, glimpses of His glory like the rainbow hues cast by a prism. He's there when we're grieving and when we're rejoicing. He's there when we don't understand "why?" Always faithful, always loving. Always Himself. 

You have said, "Seek My face."
My heart says to You,
"Your face, LORD, do I seek."
Psalm 27:8

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