weary ones

Tuesday I experienced a couple of a-ha! moments — Bing! Bam! — sudden insights where I’m left shaking my head and thinking, “How did I miss that?” More often than not, I wasn’t looking for it, caught up in other things, too busy or distracted to notice.

I am thankful God uses scripture to pierce my heart. It may be something I’ve read a dozen times when suddenly it leaps off the page to capture my attention. The word of God is always fresh and timely. This week it was a passage in Isaiah.

The Lord has given me his words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. (Isaiah 50:4)

I’ve long known this is my role, generally. Suddenly I realized the weary were among my immediate family. I want nothing more than to encourage Ollie’s parents in their faith through this difficult season. I want to give them wise counsel, not just nervous-Nelliness. I am acutely aware that it is also important to put “hands and feet” to my efforts, taking turns in caring for Oliver and giving them a break, making a meal or two, and whatever else I can do. His recovery is slow, physically and emotionally exhausting.

As this GiGi is still battling with her own worries and fears, it is a challenge not to burden them with my concerns. Wrestling for peace is a process. I know whom I have believed … but I still have to get past myself to be of any help to them.

How well God knows my heart! This first a-ha! was perfectly paired with a second in Psalm 71. This second was a reminder on two fronts: who God is and how I am to respond.

Many years ago I wrote a song based on Psalm 71. I was in an unfamiliar city, traveling on business, feeling lonely, perhaps vulnerable, when this psalm first spoke to me. I loved the imagery the psalmist used. He spoke of God as a rock, fortress, refuge, place of safety. He affirmed God as rescuer and source of confidence. He reminded God of his faithfulness from his own youth into old age. He pleaded with God to listen and to save him from harm. Finally, the psalmist promised to proclaim God’s goodness and faithfulness to this generation and the next.

From his description, my mind traveled to medieval times, where the countryside was often dangerous, rife with marauding bandits or vagabonds of ill intent. I could imagine the satisfaction of harboring inside thick city walls of stone, inside the fortress, secure under the King’s guard as darkness fell. Can’t you just see the people scurrying inside before the gates closed at night? Living in the shadow of the King’s castle must have seemed like the safest place in the world.

It’s no coincidence that the song I wrote last week, Ollie’s Lullaby, also speaks to God’s loving care and protection. These past ten days, I’ve soaked in reminders of his character like a sponge, reading over again Psalms 71 and 91, meditating on his strength and protection. I’ve needed to be reassured — for sweet Oliver. But just as importantly, and here is the second a-ha!, I’ve needed to be reminded of my response, my responsibility, to this generation. And the next.

I hadn’t thought about that song I wrote in many years. Apparently I hadn’t forgotten it, either. It came back to me, line by line, early Tuesday morning. Out of curiosity, I retrieved my thick leather-bound Ryrie NAS, version of choice at that time, from the shelf. Sure enough, tucked between onionskin thin pages were hen-scratched chorus and verses on faded Marriott hotel stationery. I hope these lines encourage you!

Rock of Habitation (Psalm 71)*

In you, oh lord, I have taken refuge
I will never be ashamed
In your righteousness, you deliver and rescue
From my youth ’til I’m gray
You will not forsake me
You listen to me now and you save me
You hear me now and you save!

For you are my rock of habitation
To you I continually come
You have given a commandment to save me
You are my rock
You are my fortress
My mouth is filled with your praise!

Your righteousness reaches to the heavens
For you have done great things
I declare your strength to this generation
From my youth ’til I’m gray
You will not forsake me
You listen to me now and you save me
You hear me now and you save!

For you are my rock of habitation
To you I continually come
You have given a commandment to save me
You are my hope
You are my confidence
My mouth is filled with your praise!

~ René Morley

*Email me for the melody.

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