I posted a blog a year ago today, partly inspired by the Nationwide “Six months time” adverts… but mainly by Psalm 124! I guess the hope back then was that in six months time much of the restrictions and isolation would have changed. Some things have changed, though perhaps not as much (or as quickly) as we would have hoped; but when it comes to God’s care for us – some things just never change…

 

 Repost: Note to Future Self

(First posted on May 6th 2020)

I don’t know if you’ve seen the Nationwide adverts where people have recorded a “message to myself in six months time…” I think they’ve been great and are a great idea! Everything from not taking our time or each other for granted, to preparing for the arrival of a baby into a (hopefully) coronavirus-free (or freer at least) world have all been part of these ‘notes to future selves!’

Have you thought about doing something similar? We often wish we could go back and tell our younger selves of lessons that experience has taught us – but I wonder what you’d say to your six month older self? To your ‘out-the-other-side-of-this’ self?

Some lessons though, can only be learnt in real time – and often hindsight (the art of looking back over something we’ve come through) can be the greatest teacher of all.

 

In Psalm 124, David’s Psalm of Assent is in flashback mode. As he looks back over a period of battles and storms he writes these lyrics, and encourages “all Israel” to sing along:

If the LORD had not been on our sidelet all Israel now say – 

if the LORD had not been on our side when people attacked us,

they would have swallowed us alive when their anger flared against us;

the flood would have engulfed us, the torrent would have swept over us,

the raging waters would have swept us away.

Psalm 124.1-5

We don’t know what specific challenges he’s referring to, who was attacking them, or how the LORD stood by their side – but we do know that David points the worshiper to recognise who their help comes from (v6-7):

Praise be to the LORD, who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

We have escaped like a bird from the fowler’s snare; the snare has been broken, and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124.6-7

In many ways – worship begins here, in simply learning to contemplate and celebrate the things God has done! So, take a moment right now to look back over your life. In the last six years, six months, and six minutes how can you write your own song. How would you complete these lines:

  • “If the LORD had not been on our side…” then – what? Where would you be today without the Lord by your side?
  • “Praise be to the LORDwho has…” what? What has He done… for you, in you, with you, through you?

No – go on, just humour me and actually do that, right now. I don’t mind, I’ll go check some emails and come back…

 

 

Feel good? Feel better? Feel surprised?

Another worshiper did the same thing, and had the same experience. Their lyrics go like this:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Johnson Oatman Jr. (1856-1926)

 

Of course, we’d never get anywhere if we drove our cars always drive staring into the rear view mirror – but looking back regularly makes the journey a lot safer. And that’s why we look back, to realise where we’ve come from, what we’ve come through – and most importantly who has been with us through the last six months, six years or six decades! Then, remembering how blessed we are – the view through the front windscreen suddenly doesn’t seem so scary. Remember Psalm 77?

” I will remember the deeds of the LORD; Yes, I will remember Your miracles of long ago.

I will consider all Your works and meditate on all Your mighty deeds.”

Your ways, God, are holy. What god is as great as our God?

You are the God who performs miracles; You display Your power among the peoples!

Psalm 77.11-14

 

The trouble is, when we face uncertainty, many of us eject faith from the driving seat and allow fear to take the wheel, and fear has a very selective memory – fear only mentions certain parts of our story that justifies how it feels.

But whereas our memories can be faded and faulty – what we discover when we remember God – is that His memory is perfectly sound and secure:

Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne?

Though she may forget, I will not forget you!

See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Isaiah 49.15-16

 

We remember God to remind ourselves that He has not, and will not, forget us. That though we often forget Him, and fail to stand fully on His peace and His promises, He can never forget us – we are engraved on the palms of His hands! He has tattooed your name on Himself and is not about to get it covered or removed. His hands are strong enough to never let go of you, His heart is big enough to never forget you.

 

I don’t know the details of how this crisis is affecting you – but I do want to point you to who can really help you through. The One who is by your side, and who – at the same time! – is the One who is sovereign over all:

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Psalm 124.7

 

This Psalm would be a great message to return to in six months time: “If the LORD has not been on our side…” what songs have yet to be written about the faithfulness of God in our generation?

 

 

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