Today’s Lectio Divina: Excerpts from Psalm 127. (MsgB)
A Pilgrim Song of Solomon.
If God doesn’t build the house, the builders only build shacks.
If God doesn’t guard the city, the night watchman might as well nap.
It’s useless to rise early and go to bed late, and work your worried fingers to the bone.
Don’t you know He enjoys giving rest to those He loves?
It’s interesting that today’s medical community is finally advancing to the place of wisdom King Solomon obtained nearly 3,000 years ago!
Walking away from worry gives life.
As a well-trained, well-developed worrier, I’ve lived a lot of my 60-plus years fretting over this thing or that. Worry and anxiety, you see, runs in my family. My dad was a worrier par excellence. He had the gift of worry down to an exact science. His day began by writing a list of things he had to do that day. His day ended when he had that list completed!
The family joke was the time when my dad wrote out a complete moment-by-moment list of places we would visit on our summer vacation to Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming. Day One (or page one of my dad’s multiple page to-do list) began by leaving Mt. Pleasant, Iowa in the morning at 9 AM and would end by camping for the night near Sioux City. But somehow my dad forgot to calculate that getting to Sioux City only took a half-day! So by lunchtime we were picnicking at the very spot we were supposed to be spending the night! I’m not sure my dad enjoyed much of our trip after that! His whole well-planned-out 10-day list had been destroyed by lunch on the first day! For a compulsive worrier like my dad, this unexpected surprise just about threw us all into a tizzy!
Now to be fair, my pop eventually learned to laugh about his compulsive worry over that summer vacation, and in truth, I think that experience taught him a lot about learning to relax and smell the roses along the way. But sadly, most of us are much like my dad. We lay out our well-developed plans for life and show them to God. And then He chuckles!
King Solomon spells it out in detail here in Psalm 127. My plans, quite honestly, don’t mean squat if I fail to invite God into them. My building projects might look good on paper, but when push comes to shove, only God is able to take such plans and make them work. And for worriers like me, it’s really a good reminder that God truly doesn’t want me, as His precious child, to go through this life fretting about this or that detail or stewing over this or that concern. As I see it, all the time I’ve spent over the years worrying or fretting over spilled milk has actually done nothing positive for me at all. Apparently, medical doctors, today, are coming to that same conclusion. Let me give you a powerful lesson I discovered recently from a doctor who works with folks on such things as this. His name in Dr. Ron Shemesh and here’s a story he tells…
A psychologist walked around a room while teaching stress management to an audience. As she raised a glass of water, everyone expected they’d be asked the “half empty or half full” question. Instead, with a smile on her face, she inquired: “How heavy is this glass of water?”
Answers called out ranged from 8 oz. to 20 oz.
She replied, “The absolute weight doesn’t matter. It depends on how long I hold it. If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I’ll have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.” She continued, “The stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a bit longer and they begin to hurt. And if you think about them all day long, you will feel paralyzed – incapable of doing anything.”
Remember to put the glass down.
I guess ‘ole King Solomon pegged it right when he told us that working our worried fingers down to the bone is not a recipe for success. Guess it’s time to put the glass down and take a healthy rest with Jesus. Something tells me that He has a much better game plan for me than standing around all day with a glass of worry in my hand!
My prayer: Father, I readily admit that, if left to my own devices, I will try to hold that half-full glass of water for weeks! Forgive me for such poor stress management! Help me see, Holy Spirit, that Your recipe for worry is to help me put the glass down and turn to You instead for help and relaxation along the way. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: What glass of worry am I holding onto today? Which life project am I stewing about? What situation in my life today has become, sadly, a point of life or death? Can I apply the medicine Psalm 127 recommends and put the glass down, trusting in God to work with me on these issues rather than trying to tackle them all by myself?
So what is God speaking to you today as you ponder the Psalms?
Over a 50-week period, you and I will take a deeper look at The Psalms: God’s Songbook of Prayers. In order to keep all the blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Contemplating the Psalms home page for ease of use. Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the on-going applications of this blog series is to walk alongside a biblically-based, Christ-centered spiritual director who is familiar with how to make material like this part of your overall spiritual formation in God. Many of our directors in our Contemplative Activist network are available to companion you in your journey with Jesus. Click here for more info.
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