I am participating in the Spiritual Emphasis Month of my grad school this September. For context, let me share with you what one of my professors wrote for our first week of contemplation.
To join me in this activity, I enlisted two of my WOW™ sisters, Cara and Sarah, to go through the contemplation exercises. Thankfully, they agreed and were eager to do so. We’ve agreed to meet every Saturday evenings via Google Meet (the pandemic is still real y’all so physical meet-up is still prohibited where I am). I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoyed our first group sharing.
Sarah shared the prayers she wrote after meditating on Psalm 68. She also shared how when she dances she feels God’s delight. As she was sharing it, I recalled Eric Henry Liddell whose 1924 Olympic race story was depicted in a 1981 film “Chariots of Fire”. Eric was quoted in the film telling his sister, “I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.“
Cara shared how she praises the Lord out of sheer ‘just because’ (in the vernacular “tripping lang”) but realized that loud praises in God’s presence are even better. She also shared how she realized when she’s in a hurry, she misses out on the details and she related this to her work. As she was sharing, I thought about Noah.
God gave Noah the general instruction of building the ark. But God didn’t just leave Noah to figure out measurements and the building process on his own, He gave Noah a detailed instruction. Cara wrote about her experience in this post.
My sharing, however, turned more emotional than I intended, and it was okay with me since they’re my safe place.
MY REFLECTIONS ON PSALM 68
I read Psalm 68 a few times (pretty sure it was about 7-8 times). I also read it in several translations. I was pretty much invested in the exercise because I know my soul needed the space to breathe.
I liked The Passion Translation’s version of Psalm 68 simply because it spelled out Selah as “Pause in His Presence”.
Psalm 68 is a hymn possible composed by David to commemorate the moving of the ark into the tabernacle in reference to 2 Samuel 6:12-15. It looks like verse 1 is an echo of Moses’ words in Numbers 10:35 when the ark set out.
I imagine David penning this hymn and as he recounts God’s glory and His goodness to the nation of Israel, he pauses in between verses because he couldn’t contain God’s awesomeness. He is amazed by God! From circling the wilderness to possessing their inheritance, God’s power has been on display and he encourages people to praise God.
Selah. Pause in His Presence.
If I am to give a title to this Psalm, it would be “The Unburdening”. Well, at least for this season of my life and with the uncertainty of when the pandemic ends. I wrote about my recent anxiety episodes here. You might want to read this post to get context why Spiritual Emphasis Month is a beautiful experience I am looking forward to participating.
Here are my THREE TAKEAWAYS from reading and meditating on PSALM 68:
1. God is my Father and He makes me part of a family.
Verses 5-6 emphasizes this. NKJV says “He sets the solitary in families.”
Living solo as a single adult and going through this pandemic in the confines of my own home, alone takes a toll even to a 91% introvert.
No, I do not regret being single. But I needed to grieve the loss of regular physical contact with my close relationships. Virtual isn’t just sustainable, especially for a 6-month quarantine period. If you know what I mean. I’m beginning to talk to the lizards that frequent my bay windows. Just kidding! But I might should this thing extends for more months than I can handle 🙂
Just when I thought there is some kind of normalcy, boom! It’s back to ECQ isolation again!
This second impromptu lockdown brought with it a kind of loneliness that makes me feel like I’ve been abducted and held captive against my will. It’s the loneliness from being physically separated and from being limited. I do not think I grieve being alone per se, but I needed to grieve the separation. Grieve the loss of freedom. (I now value my freedom as a citizen of this nation and the value that comes with my salvation as a citizen of the Kingdom). Grieve the loneliness that comes with being separated. Grieve the interruption. Grieve the disruption.
I may feel fatherless – because I really am, lost my parents on separate occasions, so yes you may say I’m an adult orphan – but as David wrote He is a father to the fatherless. I may be lonely but He makes me a part of a family.
Not only that, just like Israel was bound in Egypt and He brought them into prosperity, He will also lead me into freedom and abundance.
This brings me to my second takeaway…
2. Where God leads, He goes ahead.
Verse 7 in TPT states “O Lord, it was you who marched in front of your people, leading them through the wasteland.” This is repeated in verse 17, “…God is at the front leading them all from Mt. Sinai into His sanctuary with the radiance of holiness upon Him.”
On July 4th, while reading Exodus 13:21, I wrote in the margin of my Bible and on my journal this same exact words – “Where God leads, He goes ahead. God will guide my way and He will give me light.”
In Exodus 14:12, I wrote “Emmylou, it may look like a desert now but you’re just passing through. Being in the desert simply means I am on the right track. Just like the nation of Israel being delivered from their place of pain and slavery must go through the wilderness to their promised land.”
God is leading. It’s my joy to follow Him.
When I think about this, it brings so much encouragement in the depths of my heart. This and my third takeaway…
3. The miracles of my past are the strength of my future.
This one is not new to me. I’ve been carrying this sort of ‘mantra’ since 2000 but it slips my mind every time and the Holy Spirit has a way of making me remember it all the time.
As I was meditating on Psalm 68, this line came to the surface again.
Verses 28-29 in TPT say, “Display your strength, God and we’ll be strong! For your miracles have made us who we are. Lord do it again and parade from your temple your mighty power. By your command, even kings will bring gifts to you.“
I thought, it doesn’t have to be grand – lacking limbs growing or blind eyes seeing – for it to be considered a miracle. To me, it means God’s provision during periods of unemployment is a miracle. Grieving and being able to actually move on after years of heartbreak and losses is a miracle. There is actually hope! Going back to school after years out from it is not only humbling but a miracle in itself. My list of everyday miracles would be very long if you get my point.
God displayed His strength. Therefore, I am strengthened.
God’s miracles made me who I am now.
I throw my arms up in the air and praise Him.
Yes, Lord do it again. Parade from your temple Your mighty power.
Even in the pandemic, you are here, Lord.
Do it again. Parade from your temple Your mighty power.
The journey may be long but God still has my welfare in mind. When I don’t understand the works of His hands, I will trust His heart.
Psalm 68 brought me to remember God’s glory and God’s goodness. Worry, anxiety, and uncertainty, I do not deny their existence. I feel their presence, but they fade in comparison to the greatness of my God.
From my own wilderness journeys to each new season and every day, His power is displayed.
What a glorious God!
He gives us salvation over and over,
then daily he carries our burdens!
Pause in his presence
Read part 2 HERE.