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One of the great joys of my life is a writing workshop that I teach called The Pen and The Page. Writers of every age and stage come together, anyone who enjoys the art of chasing their thoughts on the page, and we explore the practice of writing as a way to understand ourselves better, to let our words find fresh life and meaning, and for many of us, to talk to God and let him speak over our stories.
I call it worship.
Every single weekend feels like a feast of new friendship, words, and authenticity. There is something magical that happens when the pen meets the page, and I believe that the Spirit of God shows up.
I teach this practice of exploring the Psalms and making them your own by looking closely at the beauty of Psalm 136.
First, take a moment to read and reflect on this psalm:
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
to him who alone does great wonders,
who by his understanding made the heavens,
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
who made the great lights—
the sun to govern the day,
the moon and stars to govern the night;
to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
and brought Israel out from among them
with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
to him who divided the Red Sea asunder
and brought Israel through the midst of it,
but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever. . . .
He remembered us in our low estate
and freed us from our enemies.
He gives food to every creature.
Give thanks to the God of heaven.
Oh, my friends, these words get me every time.
Do you see that bumpy road in the left column? This is not all sunshine and daisies, all good days to remind us that God’s love endures forever. No, this God who paints the mornings and poured the oceans is the same Maker who divided the Red Sea into a walking path and swept Pharaoh and his armies right into it. He hung the moon and named the stars, and he remembers us in our darkest nights. His love endures forever.
Take a moment (or many moments) to imagine your own timeline.
Imagine a long line from the left to the right, stretching across the horizon of your life. On the farthest left, the day you were born. On the farthest right, today. Let it play out before you like a movie reel of your best—and worst—scenes.
Make a list of your life’s headlines.
You don’t have to go into detail; just use a few words you can recognize. Consider people who came in and out of your life, births and deaths. Write down a move into or away from communities that grounded you or wounded you. Include any marriages, their beginning or ending. Jobs awarded and eliminated. Wandering career paths and the mentors you picked up along the way. Health victories and losses, maybe some that only you and God know about. Consider each year of your life, and bring your timeline right up to this day.
And now, one headline at a time, write your psalm of praise to a God whose love endures forever.
This is what mine looks like, pulled from the season of Psalms and Starbucks:
I was born six days past the anticipated due date, on July 24, 1979.
Twenty-two months later, my brother was born,
My first friend and the sunshine of my life.
I had many teachers in my life, some who loved me, one who didn’t.
I became a teacher, my life’s goal.
I married Robb on July 22, 2000.
We lost our first child the day before Thanksgiving,
when there was no heartbeat on the ultrasound screen.
My first son was born.
We lost a second child during pregnancy.
My youngest son was born.
I stayed at home with my little boys, changing diapers and reading stories
and making lunch and folding laundry and feeling tired.
Robb and I nearly lost one another in the tyranny of raising small children.
Then we found each other again. Just in time.
Then he died in my arms.
It was so hard and so sad for so long.
The Lord became so real to me, my faithful companion.
I could not get enough of him. He is all I wanted.
He is near to the brokenhearted. He is close to those who are crushed in spirit.
In that original psalm, and in my adaptation, I discovered something: God’s timeline continues, and his mercies to his people are a great continuendo from the beginning to the end. How I wish I could sit with you and listen to your timeline, your headlines, your poetry. His love connects the dots from your constellations to mine.
Take a moment to write out your own timeline.
• What are some of the key events on your timeline?
• Where have you been reminded that “His love endures forever”?
• How does writing a psalm allow you to connect more deeply with God’s Word?
I hope you have enjoyed this journey through the Psalms. On this journey, we have looked at why the Psalms matter and how the Psalms minister to us in all the days of our lives. I hope you’ll take the time to open your Bible and read through the Psalms in its entirety. Maybe it is a few verses a day or one chapter a day. Allow God’s Word to wash over you and find rest for your soul.
Let’s keep the conversation going.
Select a link below to view all news items from a specific year.
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