This picture is me and Robin and little Adeana worshipping during a practice at First United Methodist Church of Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Adeana was so cute, coming up and simply taking my hand as I danced to the LORD. Robin couldn’t resist joining in! It was a truly magical moment.
I’ve now had several hours of frustration as I HAD started writing the next portion of post, since I couldn’t figure out how to keep going after I got the Psalm to display in columns, But it’s disappeared. I know I saved it to draft, a couple of times, actually, but I can’t figure out where it’s gone. So, now that I’ve lost my train of thought and I should be going to bed, I figured to sit here and write some more.
Okay, so I didn’t write anymore, I went to sleep. But I saved this to draft and IT didn’t disappear. I’m really disappointed. What I had written was really heart-felt and it was good,(even if I do say it myself), and it can’t be recreated. So, I guess I’ll just take a few minutes to get coffeed up and prayed up and I’ll begin again, and I’ll simply have to make it better.
SO – Why Psalm 116? It’s just the Psalm that struck me most about how I felt when Papa God (took me a long time to be able to cal Him that – more later) reached down and pulled me up out of the miry pit that was dragging me down to death. According to James B Coffman in his “Commentary on Psalm 116,” this psalm is considered by ancient Hebrew tradition to be written by King Hezekiah after the LORD saved him from death. You can read that story in Isaiah 38 if you’d like to know more about how Hezekiah’s pleas for more time after God told him he was going to die gained him 15 more years. And, while I don’t know how many more years I’ll have due to the salvation of the LORD, I know that I would be dead by now if He hadn’t saved me. My weight, my alcohol and drug consumption, my inability to hold gainful employment due to those things, all added up to a recipe for disaster.
As I contemplated my baptism and what it meant to me, declaring to all the world, out loud, that I have decided to follow Jesus, it hit me that this psalm not only expressed what I needed to do, it said it TWICE, for added emphasis. “I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all His people.” (verses 14 & 18). This is a psalm of thanksgiving, yet more than simply giving thanks, it’s an acknowledgement that God answered a plea for help. And I had to let people KNOW that I was thankful, and that God had answered, and because of that, I get to live and love and serve Him for the rest of my days. And I had to let the people of Gungu UMC in Kigoma, Tanzania know that their faithfulness to God was making an impact halfway around the world. They needed to know that their prayers and their devotion changed the life of someone they didn’t even know existed. This is something we all need to be reminded of, we never know when something we do will affect someone who will “pay it forward” so to speak. It’s called the butterfly effect. My friend Robin, one of the others on this trip to Kigoma and now fulltime in missions with Wycliffe Bible Translators, wrote eloquently on this phenomenon. You can find her article in the August 2011 issue of Today’s Christian Woman.
I had to let the world know that, because the LORD listened to me, actually heard and paid heed to my pleas, (hmmmm, sounds like the literary device called synthetic parallelism I learned about in class, where a second phrase completes or supplements the first as seen in verses 1 & 2 of this psalm – yes, this is still about my class!), I would call upon His name, love, honor and serve Him for the rest of my life.
There is soooooooo much more I could go into here, (such as the 8 things we should “render to the LORD” (v.12) for all He has benefitted us: love, praise, worship, fear, our bodies, service, gratitude and payment of our vows – identified by Warren E. Berkley in “Something in Return”, the Expository Files, October 1996), but if I write it all here, I won’t have anything to write about next time. (Not really, I’ll never run out of material, but it feels like a good place to leave you for now. Thanks for reading!)