Wednesday, June 13, 2012
I'm currently at a Starbucks trying to wake up with some coffee, as for the past three days I've been at our annual Student Venture Conference in Myrtle Beach. Conferences can be deadly for people like me, as I'm easily overstimulated, don't like crowds, loud music and basically think of it as a carefully crafted hell in religious guise. I'm pushing for a silent retreat, but we'll see, maybe someday soon...
But this morning, as I'm trying to push through the fog stemming from sleep-deprivation, over-processing, teaching weariness and then all my funky-thinking that comes at times like these, I actually opened my Bible. I'd been resisting, as I felt like I'm in processing over-load and really didn't feel like I have the energy to read.
So I opened to the passages that are the easiest for me, the Psalms. And it's interesting, I'm not a big believer in the "open your bible to any passage" strategy, but as I flopped to Psalm 31 my wheels began to turn in some positive ways.
Just getting to Starbucks was hard for me this morning. A fellow leader had parked it in the parking garage but had mumbled when he told me where. So I spent about half an hour wondering the parking garage and feeling a little negative. Sort of stuff like, "You moron, you always loose your car. This is so typical..." Being in a state of real trauma (I'm being dramatic) like these, I cried out, "God heal me."
So back to flipping open my bible expecting God to magically guide me. He landed me did on Psalm 31. The Psalm where I hear Jesus' cry from the cross.
Tim Keller was talking a while back about reading the OT and mentioned that as the NT authors interpreted the OT, so should we. That might not have been exactly what he said. Remember my brain is on Conference. But this was in my mind as I read the passage.
My guess is Jesus probably had the rest of this Psalm memorized, so along with "Into your hand I commit my spirit" would have been the words "I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place." Jesus was clinging to words of comfort in the midst of the greatest personal trauma the world has ever seen.
Now back to me in my little trauma of a foggy brain, getting lost in a parking garage and fretting over how sinful and in need of healing I am. This Psalm is mine! I so totally own it. This Psalm is for people like me, precisely because of Jesus.
Perhaps Jesus spoke the words to be heard by his followers, I don't know. Perhaps he wanted to show them how to cling our "rock of refuge", "strong fortress", and to remember with him to chant the words "'You are my God.' My times are in you hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!" It's the trajectory of his cry.
So if your personal struggles are like mine, demons that seem to lurk, just waiting and chomping at the bit for me to lose my car in a parking garage (that smells like urine btw), so they can unleash on me all my self-loathing and sin, maybe we should look to what Jesus did. He took words that had been written centuries before and owned them for himself in his very particular situation.
I'm thinking that even though my "crisis" may be as peculiarly small as a parking garage wed to sleep deprivation, just perhaps, I'm allowed to repeat the same words with Jesus and hope, as he might have been hoping: "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!" I think I have it from a good source.