Tag Archives: psalms

Landmarks

“…be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me.” (Psalm 31 2b-3 NIV)

This is the Psalm I read this morning. I wondered what rocks and fortresses have to do with leading and guiding. Then an image came to me of a large rock, big enough to serve as a fortress, sticking out from the terrain around it.

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Even if you are in unfamiliar territory, as long as you can see the rock, you know the way to safety. The rock acts as a landmark. You need only to go in the direction of the rock to be sure you are on the right path. If the trail deviates, or obstacles block the way, you can re-orient yourself towards the rock once you have passed the obstacle.

On occasion, my husband and I have visited a shopping mall that is unfamiliar to us. My sense of direction is terrible and I am always afraid that I will get lost and won’t be able to find the way back to the car. What works for me is to spot a memorable shop where we emerge from the parking area. Then when we are in the midst of side passages and different floor levels, we can follow signboards to the shop we noted or even ask for directions.

In the same way, if we keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, we can see the way to safety and shelter. Sometimes obstacles do come along and obscure our view and we might find ourselves heading in the wrong direction. When that happens, we need to get a clear view of our Rock as soon as possible, even if it means following signposts or asking for help. Paul says, “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the crossConsider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrew 12:2-3 selected verses NIV)

My Prayer

Lord Jesus, I have a fear of getting lost. Please help me to have a clear view of You, even when obstacles impede my progress and distractions fog my view. Be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Amen.

Reflections and Memories

Today we took my car in for a service. The official agent for Chevrolet is Williams Hunt, which is now located in Fourways. It took us just over an hour to get there this morning, with peak-time traffic leg-shackled by an outage of power to robots. We ended up spending time in Cedar Square which is outside of our usual neighborhood, sustaining ourselves with breakfast after our long and tiring journey.

We sat outside a restaurant called Smoke Daddy and I was struck by the reflections in the window.

The only thing “real” in this picture is the portion of a motorbike in the bottom right corner. The rest of the picture is made up of reflections and, in some cases, reflections of reflections.

It struck me that our memories are something like this. Reflections can be distorted by the position of the light, the integrity of the glass doing the reflecting and our point of view. Likewise our memories can be distorted by our emotions, our subjective points of view and other circumstances which can magnify or reduce their importance.

On occasion, my children have recalled incidents from their childhood which I remember totally differently. I am convinced my view is the accurate one, and they are just as sure of the integrity of theirs. The truth might be neither.

God knows that our memories are just as fallible as any other part of our humanity. In various places in the Bible He exhorts us to “remember the Lord our God.” In some cases He gave His people memory aids. In Joshua 4, when Joshua led the Israelites across the Jordan River, which parted for them, the Lord said to Joshua, “Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.” (verse 3 ESV)

This was to be a memorial down the generations so the people would remember what God had done for them.

In the New Testament, Jesus arranged the same kind of memory aid when He instituted Holy Communion. “...the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'” (1 Corinthians 11:23b – 24 ESV) He did the same with the cup.

Many of the Psalms have a certain structure. They start in depression or despair. Then the psalmist calls to mind what God has done for him in the past. He remembers God’s goodness and power. The Psalm ends with a strong statement of trust in the Lord.

Psalm 77 starts, “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.” Then verses 11 and 12 read, “I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. I will ponder all your work, and meditate on your mighty deeds.”

If it is good enough for the psalmists, it is good enough for me. One of my memory aids is my journal. Sometimes it is encouraging just to look back and realize how God has been at work in my life. It might be an idea to take 12 smooth stones and write on each some event in my life where God was definitely involved. My stones would include how I met my husband, how God provided our cottage and how my back was healed.

My Prayer

Father God, I have a tendency to forget Your goodness to me. I know my memory is fallible. I get distracted by everyday life and even the rumours all around me. Please help me develop a habit of actively and purposely remembering Your mighty works in my life and Your many special gifts to me. Amen.

Open Wide!

Image by Jan van Oosthuizen from Pixabay

Recently a number birds from the thrush family have visited our bird feeder. Many of them come in twos, one slightly larger than the other. We’ve seen many occasions where the larger bird feeds the smaller although the smaller birds look perfectly capable of feeding themselves. Reminds me of Psalm 81:10. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.” (NIV)

This post is part of One-Liner-Wednesday.

Psalm 122

After a couple of detours to look at other views, I’m back in the Psalms and today’s was Psalm 122. It is a Psalm I normally skip over as of no interest to me but today I meditated on it a bit longer.

I rejoiced with those who said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD.” Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem. (Psalm 122:1-2 NIV)

I thought of myself being invited by a group of friends to go on an exciting trip with them, to Jerusalem, to the temple. I felt included. “Let us…” I also felt accepted. There was a tacit understanding that I would be welcome in the house of the LORD.

It was also exciting. “Our feet are standing in your gates, Jerusalem.” I might take a selfie of myself and my group with the gates. It’s like boasting on social media -“I am at the Taj Mahal, or the Red Square or Big Ben.”

Verses 3 – 5 describe Jerusalem almost like a travel brochure – what it looks like, some of its history and tourist attractions.

Image by Martin Forciniti from Pixabay (adapted)

The remaining verses exhort us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. It’s like going to Cape Town and being asked to save water.

So, as a tourist to Jerusalem, I will pray for its peace and prosperity.