It is good to be back! I spent last week with John, my kids, and my extended family at my parents’ home in Hartwell, Georgia. Most of our days were spent on Lake Hartwell which is situated on the border of Georgia and South Carolina. It is a beautiful place of solitude though there are often boats on the lake and somehow being in this setting helps me think – even with 10 noisy young people in tow. I can hear all of the worries, fears, and questions that are on my heart which daily life often pushes down. This lake is one of those places where I can truly be honest and present with myself and God, and realize that the world will still go on. The sun rises and sets, the waters flow and your only job is to simply be authentically who you are in the midst of it all.
Our sermon series this summer has helped me find that peace as well. Reading the Psalms reminds me to be real with God, to stop trying to hide and be present before God in whatever moment I find myself. Each week as we have studied another psalm I have found a sense of peace and the permission to simply be who I am, vulnerably, fully present before my Creator.
This week the Psalmist goes full out honest. Psalm 13 is a cry of utter lament. The writer is so unabashed about his anger and disappointment toward God it almost makes you uncomfortable to read. The Psalmist feels alone and abandoned, facing his enemies without protection. His response is anger and pleading with God. Completely open, honest and raw he waits impatiently and demands God respond.
The months before moving to St. Luke’s in the fall of 2006 was a difficult time in my ministry. Many people had opinions about this move and there was a great deal of emotion aimed at me. People were hurt and angry I was leaving and I found myself putting up a wall for the first time as a pastor (barricade is more like it). I didn’t know what to do to make things better because this move, although scary, felt right for many reasons –some I couldn’t articulate. What made things worse is it felt as if God was silent too. It was as if God led me to the decision, but then abandoned me after it was made.
I was thinking about that time as I was on the lake this past week. I realized it was then that my parents had bought the house in Hartwell. I remember the 2006 Thanksgiving before the move sitting on the lake and crying out in fear – “God where are you? Is this right? What do I do? Should I stay? Did I make the wrong decision?” I held nothing back, I let it rip. The Psalmist had nothing on me that day. I remember walking back to the house feeling again God’s presence finally. I guess all my ranting had quieted the fear enough to hear God again. I didn’t have answers, or clarity – just a sense that the world would go on. A knowing that somehow, things were going to be okay.
And here we are together, eight years later. As I sat on the boat last week, I laughed at the irony of where that fearful journey has brought me, and the work God has been doing in me to take down the barricade brick by brick. I can finally say that I truly understand the final verses of Psalm 13:
“But I trusted in our steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”
Join Pastor Jad and I this week as we open up Psalm 13 and get real with the Psalmist. Bring those places in your life you have sought to hide or allowed daily life to bury deep. Let worship be a time to come and be real before your Creator. Together we can find again the voice to sing to God, so that we might rest in His steadfast love.
Grace and Peace,
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