Fleeing the Headlines and Finding My Faith

Faith is a disorienting paradox. On the one hand, I see evidence of God’s love in my life. I feel His grace, and I believe that He cares for me.

On the other hand, I see the evils continuing to happen in this world every day, I look at the faces of those He hasn’t protected, and wonder if God is really there at all.

I’m asked to believe that terrible events and a loving God can co-exist, and it leaves me feeling like doubt is easier than faith.

In these times, what grounds me better than almost anything else is to leave. To flee the news headlines, escape the noise of the city, and make my way into nature.

Among the many things that are easy to lose in the modern age is our connection to the earth. When I find that connection, I often discover God waiting patiently right behind it.

When I take a nighttime swim in a lake whose only light comes from a breadth of stars beyond what can be absorbed in a single glance, I recognize my own smallness. It begins to feel right that a God who could create all this would be beyond my ability to comprehend.

When I pause to observe the features of the forget-me-nots dotting the shoreline, their tiny blossoms painted with the deep indigo petals and bright yellow center seemingly deserved only by a flower twenty times their size, I understand that not even the smallest detail goes unnoticed by our Creator.

psalm 104
psalm 104

The paradox of a God who both sees the small and lives in the large begins to feel comfortable when I look at the creation that reveals His character.

And while it doesn’t erase my questions of what sovereignty really means or why God seems to care so much about some circumstances and seemingly neglect others, the grounding of God’s creation allows me to feel okay with those questions. I can see that somehow God is in the world and beyond our cosmos, caring for the least and working outside our comprehension, all at the same time.

I can swirl with doubt while remaining firmly planted in the faith that God is here with us.

That was my reflection on Psalm 104. Link up with your own thoughts below. And stop back next week when Psalms Journey heads to Psalm 105.

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Come. Notice. Worship.

psalm 95Sometimes I forget the power of getting outside. Especially in the deep freeze of a Minnesota winter, when none of us have any desire to get out from under our blankets.

Though, I think weather conditions become more of an excuse than an actual reason. In actuality, it’s my busyness with other things that keeps me away.

Something changes when I go to the cabin with my family. Without solid cell phone or Internet access, social media streams aren’t able to pull my eyes and grab my attention. Without my own house and laundry pile and dishes and paperwork surrounding me, my to-do list isn’t able to plague me with feelings of what I “should” be doing today.

At the cabin, the wonder of the worlds beckons me, and I have the space to notice.

I notice the delicate beauty of bark peeling back its hold from around the tree. I notice the magnificent hues of a strikingly blue sky. I notice how the rays of the sun reflect off the snow in the winter and the water in the summer, causing a different dance of light in each season.

Psalm 95 (2) (1)I worship through my noticing. I become keenly aware of the imagination of our Creator, and without conscious effort, fill with gratitude.

I have the ability to notice back home, too. But I don’t. My noticing is pushed out by other obligations, and some of my gratitude and worship get shoved out with it.

And so the writer of Psalm 95 shouts to me

“Come”

He shouts to all of us

“Let us sing for joy to the Lord.”

Why?

“For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.” – Psalm 95:2-5

Stepping outside and noticing our creation points us to an incredible Maker. A Maker who is powerful and artistic and beyond what we can imagine.

And then, it points us to the most fantastic part. That Maker is not just a god. He is not just a creator. The Maker of the earth is the Lord. He is OUR God. He is OUR Maker.

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.” – Psalm 95:6-7

Leave your computer. The outside world and the Psalmist are calling to you.

Come. Notice. Worship.


That was my reflection on Psalm 95. Link up with your thoughts below. Stop back next week for a reflection on Psalm 96. (I'm getting so close to 100! Woo hoo! Blogging through 100 Psalms feels like a big accomplishment.)

In Praise of the Other

  in awe of GodWhat is praise?

Is it honor?

Or respect?

Or stop-in-your-tracks awe?

Maybe praise is a fully-present-awareness of Otherness.

Or Beyondness.

 

Whether or not I can define praise,

I know You are worthy of it, God.

No matter what else may demand my attention,

Your existence demands my praise.

 

When I am awake to You,

When my eyes are fully open to who You are,

I am blinded by Your radiance,

And my sin makes me want to shrink into the shadows.

 

But You will not let me go.

You overwhelm the shadows with Your light

And draw me into Your Presence with Your warmth.

 

How is it that something so other,

So amazing,

So extraordinarily beautiful,

And powerful,

Has heard the prayers of ordinary me?

Selfish me?

 

How is it that You have not just left the door open for me,

But sent me an invitation,

And flung wide the gates for my arrival?

 

You are fully Other

Yet fully present to me.

 

You are the Creator of all

And the origin of Hope,

Which is perhaps the most marvelous design of all.

 

When I look around this world, I see You.

Your strength is carved into the edges of the mountains,

Your power ebbs and flows in the tides of the seas.

Your wonders are everywhere,

And we cannot help but live in awe

Of this Other,

This beyond-human-power God.

 

Yet You do not use this transcendence to subdue me.

You use it to help me.

 

You, O Lord,

Are the God who hears my prayers,

Who cares,

Who answers.

Who provides,

Who loves.

 

You are beyond my comprehension,

Exceeding of my expectations,

And worthy of my praise.

 

Sometimes reflections on the Psalms call for wrestling. Or frustration. Or sadness. Today was not that day. Today's Psalm called for praise. This post is my prayer, putting Psalm 65 into my own words. Have you ever read Scripture that way? What was your experience?

 


Link up your post about Psalm 65 below. Make sure to read the posts of others, too. And come back next week with a post on Psalm 66.