I'm continuing my reading of the bible - this time in the Message Paraphrase. I had just finished up Job and turned the page to discover the next chapter...that of Psalms. Now I have to admit that my first reaction wasn't one of joy and excitement. Unlike most people I talk with, Psalms is not one of my favorite books of the bible. I don't quite know what it is, but for some reason I found reading Psalms the first time to be excruciatingly painful. "How can the bible be like that?" I often thought to myself. I'm sure it didn't help that I was reading the NKJV version and trying as a new Christian to decipher the "code."
So this morning, as I turned to the first page of Psalms, I read the opening discussion by Eugene Peterson and here's part of the lesson God taught me: read Psalms not as a description of what happened, but from a place of emotional discussion between a human soul and it's maker. Psalms doesn't simply describe...it's a vibrant, open, honest and sometimes gut-wrenching conversation with God. And when you put yourself in the shoes of the writer, the words suddenly take on an entirely new meaning.
So I started where every good reader starts...Psalm One. This first Psalm opens with an unexpected entry:
Not what someone would expect to find in an opening sentence! Psalm One goes on to explain that we could be less than nothing - totally lost in darkness and unfit company for others. But yet, God has chosen us anyway. We are loved.
The last few verses set the stage for everything to come:
"You're not at all like the wicked,
who are mere windblown dust—
Without defense in court,
unfit company for innocent people.
God charts the road you take.
The road they take is Skid Row."
There is a thought that I have long held as a possible scenario for our lives...we are all on a path in life; from beginning to end. God prescribes the best path for us, but for some reason we like to take little detours along the way. In our detours, our "path" becomes more like a winding road. But God, in his goodness and faithful, redirects the course towards His destination.
I love how Psalm One confirms this: God charts the road you take. We may THINK we chart our own course, but God has already chosen the path. And while we may question the direction we are headed, He knew in advance the path we would take. Robert Frost may have taken the road less traveled, but it was God who uncovered the path.
The last few months have definitely been a detour on my path, but God is slowly directing a new course. Sometimes we find a new beginning by discovering the end. I love how Nancy Ortberg describes this in her book "Looking for God:"
"Endings teach us how to begin, what we should center our lives upon, and what is really important...Endings have a purifying effect. When the dust settles after a crisis hits, we can find what is real - what is core - by what is left behind and who rose to to the occasion."
My soul has been bottled up for the past few months and part of me is ready to explode. There is much to share and much more to learn. While the "bucket" has been full and then emptied, Bucketology is back and ready to trod forward on the next path that only God himself knows.
Even though one chapter in my book of life has ended, it has also signaled the beginning of the next. That chapter has many blank pages to fill. And fill them I will. It's a challenge I am ready and willing to face. And besides, how well must God like me?
I'm still here. The journey will continue. And more importantly, the path still awaits...