God comes to you disguised as your life – Paula D’Arcy
I’ve been reading/praying through the Psalms in recent days, and although I’ve known for some time that there are various types of Psalms ranging from Laments, Hymns, Thanksgivings, etc, I’ve been a bit startled by the ups and downs of each Psalm from one to the next.
One day I’m thanking God for his profound goodness, and the next day I’m asking God to deal with my enemies with appropriate vengeance.
In fact, reading through multiple Psalms in one sitting can be somewhat of a schizophrenic exercise full of praising, cursing, and confessing at various times.
Perhaps that’s why people love the Psalms so much, though.
They’re as real as life gets, full of its twists and turns and endless fascinations with what will happen compared to what we want to happen. If we’re honest, we’d all come to realize that the Psalms are a window into the expansive mysteries in each of our souls.
As my wife can attest about me, sometimes I’m an ornery mess on random days (hopefully less rather than more), having not slept enough the night before or mulling over the plight of the LA Clippers and their storied futility. When my mood sours I tend to venture into the “stiff-necked” territory, one that Moses dealt constantly with in the wilderness.
My prayers then reflect my desultory mood, and I sound a lot like an embittered fourth grader who’s complaining that I wasn’t chosen on the right kickball team.
I realize it’s a bit silly to share some of my angst when the biblical laments and most laments that arise from 90% of the world come from much more painful suffering, difficulties that deal with real blood and guts and that sort of thing.
But believe me, this hasn’t stopped me from offering up my own prayers in desolation, even if it might simply be a pity party because I don’t like the lot that God has given me.
Yes, I fully understand that so many others around the world would love to have many of the blessings I’ve been given throughout my life, but the desolation is real nonetheless.
But oh, there are glorious days, too. Those days when I’m a model of contemplation and action, a steady presence of peace if there ever was one. I’m prayerful, grateful, and joyful. In private and public, I’m like an obedient sheep of the great shepherd, a liberated victim set free by the cosmic champion.
These are the days when the labels of Christian vocation feel good and appropriate – Christian, pastor, leader, shepherd.
Because the good days can feel so affirming, it’s harder to accept the bad days.
Especially during this “Sabbatical” time for Tina and me, I somehow presumed that it would be endless days of serenity and piety, Psalm 23 days full of light and truth.
But when I have a Psalm 79 day, or an extra moody day, or an I’m-tired-and-hungry-and-I-miss-American-burgers type of day, there’s this odd feeling of disappointment, like I’ve “wasted” these precious Sabbatical days.
And then I feel guilty, because my suffering’s really not that bad, or because I wonder if my own hunger for God is up to par, or because so much good is happening in my life.
But then I come back to the Psalms, full of its good days and bad, light and darkness peppered throughout various songs and prayers meant to depict the life of a faithful follower of God.
The Psalms, meant to describe my life as a God follower, full of its good days and bad, light and darkness peppered throughout, sometimes changing from one day to the next.
I realize that I don’t have to apologize for my life, especially for the bleh days that might come every once in awhile – sometimes immediately after my most splendid days and sometimes appearing more often that I would prefer.
Because after all, that’s life, according to the Psalms.
And well, it’s my life.
And God’s coming to me disguised as my life.
And maybe, God might be coming to you disguised as your life, too.