Yesterday we explored the Psalms in our morning services. Today, the wonderful Rosie Butcher—one of our church members—shares her reflections to help us hold onto the Psalms during our week. Over to you Rosie!
Having received an overview of the Psalms on Sunday morning, I would like to reflect on how three Psalms in particular have affected my life.
In 1987 I read the testimony of a teenage man who was in prison serving a life sentence for murder. When I first visited him (to give him several guitars), he had already served 19 years.
When Jason went into prison, his mother had given him a bible, and with many hours ‘locked up’ he eventually began to read it. Psalm 51 changed his life:
“Have mercy on me O God…….cleanse me from my sin, cleanse me and I shall be clean. Create in me a pure heart, O God……do not cast me from your presence.”
As Jason cried out to God in repentance, the weight of his guilt and shame was wonderfully taken from him. Although he became a new creation, life in no way became easy – can we even begin to understand what ‘lifers’ face in a long-term prison? No Christian holidays, no furloughs, no friends to call, but God worked in his life and gave him a heart to reach disaffected young men to help prevent them from entering into the penal system.
The prison authorities allowed groups of young men to be brought into the prison for Jason to tell them what life behind bars was like, to speak of the love and forgiveness of Jesus and to sing Christian songs,
“…then I will teach sinners your ways and they will turn back to you”. Psalm 51:13
This Psalm has always remained special to me as it demonstrates the mighty power of God’s word to turn around a life of despair and hopelessness.
“The plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations”
Many of the Psalms speak about enemies. I used to wonder who these enemies were, after all, I thought I was at peace with everyone. Now today, in 2015, it is very evident that Christians have enemies throughout the world, seeking to persecute, frighten and brutally kill. We might say ‘What is God doing, where is He? I am thankful that the Psalms give us permission to ask Why? of God, to express to Him our fears and doubts, our troubles and pains, but this Psalm gives us the confidence that God wins and nothing can thwart His plans or put his purposes off course! This reminds me that He has given us all a life-story and that He has an individual plan and purpose for each of us.
“The Lord is the stronghold (strength) of my life, of whom shall I be afraid”
Three years ago, I came face to face with cancer. This Psalm gave me strength and courage to face whatever might lie ahead for me. No-one would ask for such a diagnosis but it made me examine what I believed about life and death. v14 “Trust in the Lord, have faith, do not despair”. As I was wheeled on the trolley to the operating theatre, I KNEW that the Lord was the strength of my life, whatever the outcome. I now worship Him in restored health and know that He is always near, through thick and thin.
I’d like to finish with one final Psalm—Psalm 68:
“Show your power O Lord
Demonstrate the justice of your kingdom
Prove your mighty word
Vindicate your name before a watching world.”
When we can’t pray, when life doesn’t make sense, or when we are full of joy and on the mountain top, there is always a Psalm relevant to our situation. Let us use the Psalms as good medicine to our souls.
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