January 30, 2021

January 30, 2021

January 30, 2021

Psalm 111

Pat Kiper

Psalm 111

111 Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the godly and the congregation.
2 The Lord’s deeds are great,
eagerly awaited by all who desire them.
3 His work is majestic and glorious,
and his faithfulness endures forever.
4 He does amazing things that will be remembered;
the Lord is merciful and compassionate.
5 He gives food to his faithful followers;
he always remembers his covenant.
6 He announced that he would do mighty deeds for his people,
giving them a land that belonged to other nations.
7 His acts are characterized by faithfulness and justice;
all his precepts are reliable.
8 They are forever firm,
and should be faithfully and properly carried out.
9 He delivered his people;
he ordained that his covenant be observed forever.
His name is holy and awesome.
10 To obey the Lord is the fundamental principle for wise living;
all who carry out his precepts acquire good moral insight.
He will receive praise forever.

Devotion

I’ve spent a lot of time over the past year with my elderly parents. It’s been a blessing that has allowed me to hear some interesting stories from them. My mom told me how magical Christmas had been for her as a child. She and friends would sit by the fireplace and look through the big wish book that was a staple in most households at that time. As they looked longingly at the pages full of toys they would find the treasures they most desired, tear out the page, then put it into the fire. As the flames licked up the colorful pages, they watched the ashes float up the chimney, sending their wishes up and out to Santa.

My dad told me about how he had lost part of his fingernail. As a six- or seven-year-old, he had tagged along with his dad after lunch, riding a tractor off to a distant neighbor’s property to do some work. Soon after they arrived, his dad lowered a bar on a part of the tractor, and it smashed my dad’s finger. There was no help to be found, no ice or Tylenol to ease the pain, and he spent the rest of the afternoon in misery with a throbbing finger, not returning home until it was nearly dark. I’d seen my dad’s finger all my life and was never curious enough to think about how it got that way.

The same thing was true with my grandpa. He was a dear man and an important part of my childhood. He was born with a significant birthmark: half of his face was dark purple and misshapen. I remember being about seventeen years old, having a friend over, and introducing her to my grandpa. When we were alone later she said, “Why didn’t you tell me about his face?”  It never occurred to me that I needed to prepare her. To me it was just the way he was; it was normal. It wasn’t until recently that I became curious enough to wonder how looking like that had affected him as he grew up.

Reflecting on these stories made me think about how often we aren’t curious enough about someone else’s story, how often we take things for granted. This happens in our family stories, but it also happens in our faith stories.

In Psalm 111, the writer is proclaiming that God has done amazing things, and these things are to be remembered and passed on. The Psalmist doesn’t shy away from telling about the great deeds that God has done. He is “loud and proud” about them. This idea comes up many times in the Psalms. Psalm 66:14 says, “Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for me.”  And again in Psalm 78:3-8: “We will recount to the generations to come the praise-worthy deeds and the power of the Lord, and the wonderful works he has done… That the generations to come might know, and the children yet unborn, that they in their turn might tell it to their children; so that they might put their trust in God, and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments.”

It’s a good thing to tell our stories and praise God for what He has done and is doing in our lives, but the stories of my parents and grandfather that I recounted here make me think that we need to make space for others to share their stories. First, we need to be more curious about things that happened to them and how these things have shaped their lives. We need to be intentional about asking good questions that will lead to those stories. Further, we need to make time. Every time I ask questions I don’t get an interesting story. Sometimes the time is just not right, answers are short, or someone doesn’t feel like talking; but, we have to make time, give opportunities, and be patient.

Regarding your own story: you need to be intentional about that, too. Donald Miller wrote a book called A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. In it, he talks about the process of making a movie from his memoir Blue Like Jazz. Some scenes for the movie were filmed differently from the way they actually happened to make them more interesting. His conclusion from this experience was that he wished he had lived a better life and told a more interesting story in the first place, so the scenes wouldn’t need to be changed. It takes intentional choices to make that happen.

So, let me encourage you to seek out the faith stories of others and make space for them to be told. Listen and remember the great deeds the Lord has done among us. And then, live a better story. Step out in faith, take the leap, and see what trusting God really looks like. Embrace what He wants to do in you and through you. Then you will be able to say with the Psalmist in Psalm 111:

Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the assembly of the godly and the congregation.
2 The Lord’s deeds are great,
eagerly awaited by all who desire them.
3 His work is majestic and glorious,
and his faithfulness endures forever.
4 He does amazing things that will be remembered…

Author

Daily Devotional