Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Dog walking is good for blogging

It gives one time to think. I planned my ABC Wednesday entry while walking George yesterday. And I decided what to say on Sunday.

Last Sunday, Chris asked a number of us if, next Sunday, we'd talk a bit about Bible verses that we've found inspiring. My mouth said yes but when I was walking yesterday I was struggling to think of any Bible verse. I'm not a Bible scholar. Even if I know a verse I won't know where to find it.

But at last I came up with something I could use.

Going on for twenty years ago now, Husband had cancer. It was a bad time. One day I read psalm 18 and it really made an impression on me. It became 'my psalm'. It was what I kept going back to.

On the good days, I knew that, whatever happened, God would see us through it; on the bad days I would read the psalm over and over. It wasn't an instant panacea; it didn't even make me feel better. But it was something to cling onto.

It seems that for some people their faith provides a permanent high. (Although I'm not always convinced of the authenticity.) For most of us, most of the time, it's just there: a solid foundation, a base to return to, a straw to cling onto. Personally, I'd say a lot of my faith is of the fingertip variety.

Anyway, when Husband was well again, I attended a writing course and one of the things we were asked to do was to rewrite a psalm. Psalm 18 - or part of it at least - was my obvious choice. The psalmist is looking back on how God got him through a bad time and is able to do that from a position of being in a good place again. Would I have been able to rewrite this psalm if things had gone badly wrong? I like to think that I could have. Certainly not as soon after as I wrote this, but in time. Thankfully I didn't have to find out.

It's quite a long piece of writing but I think I'll include it here as well as in my long bits. I won't write anything after it so if you get bored, you can stop reading without fear of missing a precious word from my fingers!

Psalm 18 Verses 1-19
I love you, O Lord, my strength.

Where would I be without you, Lord?
You’re the ground I stand on —
and more than that.
You build walls around me of pure granite,
walls to shelter and protect
and, as if that was not enough,
you place yourself between me and the world,
forestalling my enemies and safeguarding my path.

I remember a time, Lord,
when I cried out to you
and you rescued me.

It was a time when everything I hold dear was under threat,
when my enemy towered, leering, over me,
when malignancy, and death itself,
came creeping on its slimy belly
and wormed its way in,
gloating, hinting, tormenting.

What could I do but call out to you?
In the realms of heaven,
amongst the honeyed choruses of angels,
you somehow heard my puny cry.
It had no poetic beauty to move you;
others would have laughed at its lack of fluency.
But you moved heaven and earth to come to my aid.

I can see you now, the original braveheart,
leaping to your feet, arms raised, fists clenched,
your face gripped with righteous anger,
sweat and tears mingling as you storm,
roaring, from your throne room
and stride through eternity.
The forces of nature have seen this before
and cower, trembling, before your approach
but my enemy, oh foolish one, is too intent
on his own schemes to give heed to the signs.
And is caught unawares when you stamp on him.

You could have left it there, warrior king,
but no, with anger spent, there was another job for you.
You lifted me gently in your hand,
closed your fingers around me
and whispered oh such words,
words of reassurance and peace,
words without sound
which told of your joy in me.

Then you took me to a meadow which stretched
as far as I could see, a lush green pasture, and you told me
I was free.


Morning Glories in Round Rock said...

Liz, Lovely post! I agree with your feelings that faith is our foundation. If I didn't have it to lean on and gain strength from, I don't know how I would get through some of the life experiences I have had. I thought your rewriting of the psalm was very insightful, and it made me think of my favorite image when I need to be comforted. I always think of crawling up on God's lap like a little child, and a feeling of love and comfort always envelopes me. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and favorite verse. I will have to try to settle on one too!
Jenny (morning-glories-in-round-rock)

Denise said...

I always plan my blogging when I am out on the bike with Jon!

leslie said...

You certainly have a way with words, Liz. I might try that exercise myself with another of the psalms. I'll have to reread most of them to see what might fit. Thank you for the inspiration. And God bless you.

Rose said...

A wonderful, personal rewrite of the psalm, Liz. This is certainly a good exercise in making a Bible passage meaningful to an individual.

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