This week leading up to Easter, I am consciously trying to spend less time looking at a screen (either the TV or my iPad) and more time consciously in the Word. Tonight as I settled in for the evening and began to catch up on my Bible reading plan, I realized that tonight’s reading would reunite me with an old friend – Psalm 27.
It was July 2002 in Waverly, New York. I was leading a mission team of 35 people, and my heart was heavy. That particular mission trip was a difficult one in that nothing really went according to plan. Our group didn’t even get an hour from home before a flat tire delayed us! To be quite honest, about halfway through that trip, I wondered if we had done the right thing in coming. In addition, one of my closest friends in the church & a well-respected deacon there was in the hospital in Birmingham fighting for his life. It looked bleak, and any moment I was expecting to get the call to fly home. In addition, I was the full-time pastor of a growing church while also pursuing my doctorate degree from seminary. Literally, I was working both day and night seven days per week. I was physically & spiritually exhausted. Finally, I had a pregnant wife and a four year old little boy at home that I missed & worried about. Like I said, my heart was heavy – and my tank was empty!
One morning I went outside to have my Bible reading & prayer time. The sun had just come up enough to give light to read by. It was then that these words gripped my heart…
“Davidic. The Lord is my light and my salvation— whom should I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life— of whom should I be afraid? When evildoers came against me to devour my flesh, my foes and my enemies stumbled and fell. Though an army deploys against me, my heart is not afraid; though a war breaks out against me, still I am confident. I have asked one thing from the Lord; it is what I desire: to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, gazing on the beauty of the Lord and seeking Him in His temple. For He will conceal me in His shelter in the day of adversity; He will hide me under the cover of His tent; He will set me high on a rock. Then my head will be high above my enemies around me; I will offer sacrifices in His tent with shouts of joy. I will sing and make music to the Lord. Lord, hear my voice when I call; be gracious to me and answer me. My heart says this about You, “You are to seek My face.” Lord, I will seek Your face. Do not hide Your face from me; do not turn Your servant away in anger. You have been my helper; do not leave me or abandon me, God of my salvation. Even if my father and mother abandon me, the Lord cares for me. Because of my adversaries, show me Your way, Lord, and lead me on a level path. Do not give me over to the will of my foes, for false witnesses rise up against me, breathing violence. I am certain that I will see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27, HCSB)
It was then the Lord assured me that I would see His goodness even though I couldn’t sense it at that moment. Psalm 27 strengthened me, encouraged me, and convicted me of my lack of faith all at the same time. Since that day almost 13 years ago, I have at key times each year been drawn back to Psalm 27. It’s like an old friend that visits at just the right time. I am grateful for the visit tonight.