Ascent Psalms: Psalm 121

Read Ascent Psalm 121 (preferably THE MESSAGE translation if possible).

“I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains” (Psalm 121:1-2).

I love the mountains. I fell in love with them on my first trip to B.C. with the Concordia College Male Chorus back in the early 1960s. Placed in the mountainous community of Creston for my first and only “call” as pastor, I have never lost this love. In my first week of ministry I was called to the farm home of a family whose wife and mother was killed in an overturned tractor accident. Her two young boys were safe. What would I say? Psalm 121 came to my heart as I drove along that mountainside. Afterwards, I memorized Psalm 121 using this “pilgrim song” to pray as I walked and ran in God’s creation. This is still my daily prayer.

Besides being a runner and a swimmer, I’m an insomniac. Being far too anxious and feeling guilty about many things, I often am awake to a long night of pounding my pillow. It can be very lonely. The psalmist reflected, “…your Guardian God won’t fall asleep…” (vs.3).  In other words, God’s right there awake all night for me. How’s that for companionship?

From my teen years I have often agonized over my mistakes, my sins, my bad thoughts, yes, even my sexual inclinations. I fantasize over things impure, and then I beat myself up inside thinking self-punishment will clean up my act. It doesn’t work! I wake up at night asking, ‘How can God possibly love and use a “schmuck” like me?’

This morning I got a letter from Tim, the son of my vicarage supervisor in Rockford, Ill. (1967-68) (It seems to be a millennium ago). Dr. Tim is now a cardiac physician, a heart specialist. We e-mail back and forth. He admitted his own insomnia. He sent me a prayer he and his wife use morning and evening:

Dear Lord,
       Life is short and we do not have much time
         To gladden the hearts of those who travel this way.
     So, be with us.... swift to love and make haste to be kind.
      And may your Divine Mystery
           Who is beyond our ability to know,
                  but Who has made us,
                         and Who loves us,
                               and Who travels with us
            Bless you and keep you in PEACE! In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Today, I am stronger because the Creator of the mountains knows my needs better than I do. This God of grace and forgiveness loves me more than I can ever imagine. This God knows me in my waking and my sleeping.

Lord Jesus, I am amazed that Your Father loves me as much as He loves You.  I am loved even when I find it hard to love myself! Your love makes me strong. Thanks unlimited!