Monday, July 30, 2007

Spirituality of the Psalms

I am currently reading a little book called Spirituality of the Psalms by Walter Brueggemann. He is doing the kind of Bible Study here that I long for in the church, but cannot seem to find. It is a deep look into the Psalms that has had me digging into and studying the Scriptures for days; and it feels so good to be home among them again. This time I visit the Psalms with fresh perspectives and new ways of looking at them.

The picture on the front of this book has captured me. I find myself staring at it. It is art and it speaks to me of the despair of man. We are down in this huge pit and our only way out is if the hand of God will lift us out of it. We reach and reach for Him...

Bruggemann has organized the book on three general themes. He discusses how life moves in certain ways and there are psalms of orientation, psalms of disorientation and psalms of new orientation, that appear as prayers to accompany the journey.

A settled orientation is when life is ordered and patterned. One is grateful for nature, creation and God's goodness and wisdom. We sense his hand on our lives. Psalms of orientation praise and thank God for his goodness. It is interesting to note that these psalms most often are prayed and come from those who are well off. Life has been good to them.

The next phase, psalms of disorientation, are often ignored by the church. The church and people in general, want to go from "strength to strength". However, life is not always like that. It is filled with sickness, tragedy, death and unjust situations. This walk through the darkness is when the psalms of disorientation come along. They are usually a plea or complaint addressed to God, followed by praise and the assurance of being heard.

Finally, the break through happens. We are surprised by God intervening in a way not previously thought of by his children. He comes in and does the miraculous. There is grace, mercy and here one finds the trouble is restored. This is when psalms of new orientation come into play and life is never quite the same again.

I am still working through the book and I am hardly doing it justice here. There is an interesting discussion throughout of personal versus communal prayers in all three areas of orientation. Also, Brueggemann makes the point that we are "speech creatures". One of things we can glean from the psalms is that we need to speak and address God as part of the process in whatever area of life one happens to be in at the time. The speaking makes it reality. One should not ignore the reality of where they are at.

In light of that, I have written my own personal psalm to God and although I find it to be a little full of self pity- it is an attempt to be honest with God and to bring myself to His altar in a new, creative way for me. I have been in a phase of disorientation for many years so that is the angle from which I write.

A Psalm of Disorientation

I see no way out of my troubles
~hope is so hard to hang onto.

Years have slipped away
Your silence hurts my ears
~and my heart.

My thoughts have no where else to turn
~but to You and You alone.

Please do not abandon the girl you raised
~the one who loves to sing and praise your precious Name.

It is hard to trust
when one feels so abandoned at times
but it is my only choice
I have no other way
~no other options.

I have placed all bets on You.
Please take my broken life and make it whole
~Restore your child.

If you do not come, then one day
I will return to dust
~and that will be that.

You and You alone can change all of that!

Hear my plea~
Answer my cry from the dark alley
~where you will find me shivering.

If you rescue me, or if you don't
My life, is in your Hands
~forever, either way.

What benefit is there to helping me then?
Only that You will prove to me your worthiness and your truth.
All the stories of redemption and grace will come to life for me-
~show me the power of your love.

Do you hear my cries?
Are you tired of my pleas for help?
~I am still waiting...

If I could figure this all out on my own
Believe me I would-
I have only myself to blame, but that is why I need a Savior!
~be my Savior!

You saved the world- can you save one more?
My life is rushing by at warp speed-
I fear it may be too late.
Still I beg and plead for a way through the darkness
~which has blinded my eyes and clouded my vision.

You have rescued others, when is it my turn?
The days will come and go until you intervene
~and rescue me.

...I'll be here.

When you do come with your refreshing wind
I will clap and jump for joy.
I will shout and sing and dance around.

When you do come I will be renewed in my vigor for You.
~we will do great things!

When you do come it will show the world that you are a God who cares and loves me-
that you are a God who forgives, restores, redeems
...even me.


Brook said...

WOW...thanks for having the courage to share that. What an intensely personal (and beautifully written) psalm, yet one whose feelings are shared with so many of us. The silence of God, that feeling of "where are you in my darkest hour?", a darkness and lostness that can stretch out for years. Wonderful post. I know Andy's been on my case about him for years, but I needs to read me some Brueggemann!

Kimberly said...

I need to check out Brueggemann.

And I love the Psalm. I never quite took to the happy ones, anyway. This one speaks to me.