I read Psalm 65 a couple of weeks ago and cried happy tears of gratefulness.
Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
2 You who answer prayer,
to you all people will come.
3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you forgave our transgressions.
4 Blessed are those you choose
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the good things of your house,
of your holy temple.
Back Story: I’m reading Eat This Book by Eugene Peterson (author of THE MESSAGE) and it is changing the way I read the Bible. Again. One of the sections that stood out to me was where Peterson discusses the use of metaphor by biblical writers. Why, for example, does David write that God is his rock in so much of his poetry? Why doesn’t he just say God is strong or constant or sure? Because with a metaphor he can say all of those things and, not only that, but he can say it in a way that forces you, his reader, to climb inside that metaphor and test it out for yourself. Doesn’t metaphor leave room for misunderstanding? Mightn’t we get something wrong in the interpretation? God seems to be okay with these risks. We should be, too.
So after going through several chapters of Peterson’s enlightening teaching, one morning I pulled out the provided Bible in our church prayer room and thought I’d just fill a bit of my hour with some Psalm reading. I didn’t get past the fifth verse and I was wiping away tears.
The metaphor of our relationship with God being like a house – a place of belonging and comfort – rings true for me. I’m a “church baby” by my own description. I’ve rarely regretted this title. I know I’ve been blessed by my experiences even when they were mixed with some failure, weakness, or hurt. No home is perfect, especially if it houses humans, but it is still the best defense we’ve got against the natural elements of this life. And God’s house has given me many “good things,” including, but not limited to, my husband, some of my most marketable talents, and a wide expanse of life experiences.
It isn’t that I can’t identify with those who have been wounded by the church because I can. My church experience hasn’t been all stained glass window art and pot-luck dinners. But I know David saw his fair share of yuck too. I mean, the guy did not have it easy . . . ever. His life was marked by betrayal, murder, and abandonment, among other things. But David knew God was not to blame for these weaknesses in his own character or the failures of his enemies. God was something else . . . and his house was the place David ran toward because the house itself wasn’t the destination, God was.
And He gives good things. Let’s just live inside that for awhile.