Tag Archives: Psalms

Rescued from Drowning

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When I was in elementary school, my dad was hired as our church youth pastor.  I thought it was the best thing that could ever happen to a 4th grader because my sister and I got to go to all the youth group events:  hay rack rides, roller skating nights, camp outs, and bon fires.  On one of these summer events, we went tubing down the Apple River, splashing each other and flipping each other’s tubes as we floated down the lazy river.

The top end of the river had been dammed to make a small lake with an island in the center.  It was a small dam because at its headwaters, the river is not much more than a creek.  The small dam was sloped in a way that we could ride our inner tubes down it like a big water slide and at the end of the slide we were rolled and tumbled in the curl of water where the dam met the river.  It was great fun!

While we were waiting our turns on the dam slide (haha, I just made myself giggle) we paddled around the little lake and explored the island.   Some of us invented a sort of game where four of us would all sit on the sides of the same tube and on the count of three we’d all fall backwards into the lake.  Over and over again we’d scramble back up the sides of the tube, laughing and splashing the whole time.  It was great fun to be included in games with the teenagers!

I was having a blast until the very last moment.  No one gave a single thought to the fact that this last load of kids on the inner tube was very mismatched in weight.  We all counted to three and arched our backs to flop into the lake, but since I was the lightest in the group, the inner tube flipped over on top of me.  Before I could get out from under it, the other kids were scrambling back on top of the tube, their feet kicking me as I was trapped under the now fully loaded tube.

I was running out of breath, but I decided that to get out from under their feet I needed to swim deeper and then to the right.  Unfortunately when I sank deeper, my feet became tangled in the weeds at the bottom of the lake.  That’s when I got scared.  I could see the circle of sunlight in the center of the inner tube above me, legs dangling through the hole.  I reached up my hand, but I couldn’t touch anyone.

My lungs were burning.  I was scared.  “This is it,” I thought sadly.  “I’m going to drown within inches of the surface of the water.”  I stretched my arm a little higher, praying that someone would see me.

Suddenly, one of the teenage boys plunged his hand into the water and grabbed my hand with a strong grip.  He pulled me up hard.  As I broke through the surface that had seemed so far out of my reach, I gasped for air.  The boy didn’t say a word, but he draped my arms over the edge of the tube and began paddling towards the shore.  Everyone else on the tube was giggling and splashing, completely unaware of the fact that I had just nearly drowned.  The boy and I did not say a word to each other.  When we got to the shore of the lake, he held me by the shoulders to steer me as I weakly staggered to a sitting position on the narrow strip of sand at the edge of the water.  I sat there trembling.  Then he ran back to join the others for more fun.  I think he knew he had just saved my life, but it was too heavy of a thought to press into words.

I think about that incident when I read the Psalms.  David often speaks of times of sorrow or trouble when the waters are over his head.  He sings of how God lifted him up and put his feet on solid ground.  That’s what God does when we call out to him.  He reaches down and pulls us up.

“Save me O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.  I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold.  I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me.  I am worn out calling for help.”  (Psalm 69:1-3)

“I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.  Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.  The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came upon me.  I was overcome by trouble and sorrow.  Then I called on the name of the Lord, ‘O Lord, save me!’  The Lord is gracious and righteous, our God is full of compassion.  The Lord protects the simple-hearted.  When I was in great need, he saved me.  Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” (Psalm 116:1-6)

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On a Short Leash

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I was raised in a pastor’s home.  That makes me a PK, a Pastor’s Kid.  Some people say that Pastors’ kids are the worst kids they know.  In some cases, I would agree with that, but in my case I have to disagree.  I was a pretty good kid, wanting to please my parents.  But even then, I have always felt like God has kept me on a very short leash.  Even when I WANTED to do something bad, I never got away with it.  I got caught every time!!

For that reason, to this day I am a terrible liar.  Wait, I mean I am terrible AT lying.  Even if I try to tell a lie, people can see through me every time.  This means that I cannot for the life of me keep a secret from my husband.  He just looks me in the eye, asks me a direct question, then laughs at my NON-poker face.  George Washington has nothing on me!  “I cannot tell a lie.”

So it kind of bothered me when I was younger that I didn’t have some fantastic testimony of being saved out of some horrible, rebellious way of life.  As a matter of fact, my testimony is kind of dull, in comparison to others.  But one year I went to a camp for pastors’ kids and my perspective changed.

At the camp, other PKs were giving their testimonies about how they had gone through some kind of rebellious period and how God brought them back.  I was having testimony-envy until an older girl took the microphone.  Very simply put, she said, “I have never had a time of rebelling against my parents or God.  I have loved the Lord ever since I was a little girl.  My testimony is the evidence of God’s power to KEEP me.”  And my world was shaken!

God has kept me.  He has carefully watched over me ever since I was a baby.  He has guarded me from bad company.  He didn’t let me run wild.  He has hedged me in to keep me on the path that He chose for me.  Yes, my choices have been more limited, but my heart has not grown hard through sampling the “delights” of the world.  Like a precious and valuable exotic flower, I have been kept in God’s greenhouse, sheltered from the frost and wind.  I have been kept.  How awesome is that!

In God’s power, I can brag.  I am not the only one who has been kept by God.  Think of David, Joseph, Moses, Samuel, Mary, Timothy who were all kept from a young age.  God is powerful and able to preserve you from evil.

“From birth I was cast upon you; from my mother’s womb you have been my God.”  Psalm 22:10

“For you have been my hope, O Sovereign Lord, my confidence since my youth… Since my youth, O God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds.  Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, O God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your might to all who are to come.”  Psalm 71:5, 17-18

When it looks like the Bad Guys are always winning…

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Don’t bother your head with braggarts or wish you could succeed like the wicked.

In no time they’ll shrivel like grass clippings and wilt like cut flowers in the sun. 

Get insurance with God and do a good deed,
settle down and stick to your last.
Keep company with God,
get in on the best.

Open up before God, keep nothing back; 
he’ll do whatever needs to be done: 
He’ll validate your life in the clear light of day 
and stamp you with approval at high noon. 

Quiet down before God,
be prayerful before him.
Don’t bother with those who climb the ladder,
who elbow their way to the top.

Bridle your anger, trash your wrath, cool your pipes—it only makes things worse.

Before long the crooks will be bankrupt;
God-investors will soon own the store.

Before you know it, the wicked will have had it;
you’ll stare at his once famous place and—nothing!
Down-to-earth people will move in and take over,
relishing a huge bonanza.

Bad guys have it in for the good guys,
obsessed with doing them in.
But God isn’t losing any sleep; to him
they’re a joke with no punch line.

Bullies brandish their swords,
pull back on their bows with a flourish.
They’re out to beat up on the harmless,
or mug that nice man out walking his dog.
A banana peel lands them flat on their faces—
slapstick figures in a moral circus.

Less is more and more is less.
One righteous will outclass fifty wicked,
For the wicked are moral weaklings
but the righteous are God-strong.

God keeps track of the decent folk; 
what they do won’t soon be forgotten. 
In hard times, they’ll hold their heads high; 
when the shelves are bare, they’ll be full. 

God-despisers have had it;God’s enemies are finished—
Stripped bare like vineyards at harvest time,
vanished like smoke in thin air.

Wicked borrows and never returns;

Righteous gives and gives. Generous gets it all in the end;

Stingy is cut off at the pass.

Stalwart walks in step with God;
his path blazed by God, he’s happy.
If he stumbles, he’s not down for long;
God has a grip on his hand.

I once was young, now I’m a graybeard—
not once have I seen an abandoned believer,
or his kids out roaming the streets.
Every day he’s out giving and lending,
his children making him proud.

Turn your back on evil, 
work for the good and don’t quit. 
God loves this kind of thing, 
never turns away from his friends. 

Live this way and you’ve got it made,
but bad eggs will be tossed out.
The good get planted on good land
and put down healthy roots.

Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone, rolls virtue around on his tongue.

 His heart pumps God’s Word like blood through his veins; his feet are as sure as a cat’s.

Wicked sets a watch for Righteous, he’s out for the kill. God, alert, is also on watch—

Wicked won’t hurt a hair of his head.

Wait passionately for God,
don’t leave the path.
He’ll give you your place in the sun
while you watch the wicked lose it.

I saw Wicked bloated like a toad,
croaking pretentious nonsense.
The next time I looked there was nothing—
a punctured bladder, vapid and limp.

Keep your eye on the healthy soul,
scrutinize the straight life;
There’s a future
in strenuous wholeness.
But the willful will soon be discarded;
insolent souls are on a dead-end street.

The spacious, free life is from God,
it’s also protected and safe.
God-strengthened, we’re delivered from evil—
when we run to him, he saves us.

~Psalm 37 The Message Version