My hubby Jim always has a project going. Right now it’s a bubble rock, gurgling its melody outside my kitchen window. He set a water tank in the ground, drilled five rocks, ran a pipe through them and voilà — we have a bubbling fountain by our front walk.
Actually, completing the job wasn’t all that easy … it took energy, sweat, digging, drilling and hours of failure and experimenting before he completed the job.
Jesus said be complete like His Father. You probably haven’t read “complete” in your version of Matthew 5:28; more likely it says “be perfect.”
What He meant was keep growing into the perfect image God has of you. Nobody else in all the world can be you as well as you can!
The more intimately we know God, the better we know ourselves. What we believe about God has a lot to do with what we believe about who we are. Our understanding of God’s grace gives meaning to how we talk.
I notice a guy who often says he feels guilty talks a lot about sin, while a friend who accepts her imperfect self spreads cheer like sunshine.
To understand what God is like, I look at Jesus. As a Hebrew boy, He memorized the Psalms, probably all of them! In “What We Need is Here, the Heart of Christian Spirituality,” my friend Roger Owens says the Psalms were Jesus’ prayer book and song book. They were His history book, too, teaching Him how earlier generations of His family’s people opened their hearts to God.
Imagine Jesus singing Psalms those 40 days He fasted in the desert. Perhaps the angels who kept Him company sang along. Perhaps they sing along when we pray, too.
Psalms prime my prayer pump, like pouring a bit of water into a dry pump encourages water to flow from springs deep underground.
A verse like Ps. 110:1, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth!” sets the Spirit within me free to rise up, very much like my overflowing bubble rock. The Psalms resemble the small electric pump in our underground 20-gallon tank. They generate my faith, enabling it to flow over rocky obstacles, quenching my thirsty soul.
I bet a lot of us memorized a Psalm or two in Sunday school. For me, Psalm 100 stood out. Later I read, reread and underlined others, storing them within for that time I would need them. A line or passage often hums softly against the background of my days, a reassuring hint of their Composer’s presence.
I like how Owens calls his chapter on Psalms One Hundred-fifty Prayers. He says the Psalms are unique; in them we hear God speaking to us and find prayers to offer back to Him, a two-way conversation.
Some passages speak about seeking vengeance against enemies. They seem to tell me more about our humanity than God’s divinity, and there are a lot of them.
Instead of thinking of human foes when I turn to them, I substitute cancer, my very personal adversary.
What attitudes, circumstances or disease come against you and your household? Try praying Psalm 35:1 (NASB): Contend, O Lord, with those who contend with me; fight against those who fight against me. Like most Psalms that express dread or fear, this one ends praising God’s faithfulness.
The Psalms invite us, God’s imperfect children, to a come-as-you-are party, to feast on the songs of His ancient people. Roger calls the Psalms a lavish banquet, a feast prepared with us in mind. Just don’t expect fast food; in fact, this spread was prepared over 2,000 years ago.
As a teen, Roger felt like he found his own story in the Bible when he read Psalm 40 and came to verse seven: Here I am, I have come; in the scroll of the book it is written about me.
We can find our stories there, too. Psalm 139 says the Lord intricately wove me in my mother’s womb.
It promises that He entwines me with love and that I’ll never wander beyond His gaze. While I can’t always understand God’s plan in times of trouble, I believe He is there. This is what faith means.
Reading different translations of the Bible can give a fuller sense of what they mean, like these paraphrases of Psalm 138:8:
You will do everything you have promised; Lord, your love is eternal. Complete the work that you have begun. (“Good News Translation”)
And “The Passion Translation,” You keep every promise you’ve ever made to me! Since your love for me is constant and endless, I ask you, Lord, to finish every good thing you’ve begun in me!
Thank You Lord, the Author and Finisher of our faith, that You always complete what You begin.
All will be well.