The psalmist expresses his deep gratitude to God using the metaphor of water. His imagery reminds me of a dear friend who loved to quip: “A day without rain is like a day without sunshine.” From beginning to end, the topic of water flows through scripture. Although water can be out of control with devastating results, water is life-giving, and its absence is cause for alarm.
The psalmist writes that God visits the earth and waters it: two life-giving truths, both literal and metaphoric. God’s visitation, God’s presence of blessing impacts our lives in so many ways—just like water. God waters us, provides, enriches, blesses. The psalmist gives us the visual image of the earth being enriched by its watering Creator, that we may also see the image of our lives being enriched by our ever-visiting God!
Verse 10 is especially powerful: God waters abundantly—settling, softening, and blessing. I have plenty of furrows and ridges in me, places that are hard and impenetrable. Even in the midst of God’s abundant blessings, I can refuse to acknowledge God’s power to gently pull down my rigidity, to soften my intractable hardness. What a refreshing, transforming image: God’s love pours down on me like rain, and I become pliable and permeable yet again. What a blessing God has for me if I will just let it rain!
If I pause to consider all that lies behind me, I would see what the psalmist sees: deep wagon tracks from the heavy load of God’s bounty and richness in my life. How appropriate that this half of the psalm begins with God visiting and ends with shouting and singing for joy. Bring on the rain!
Confess to God your ridges and furrows. Find a place where water flows, sit awhile, and listen for God’s life-giving grace.
The Hebrew scripture readings declare the salvation of humankind and insist that the initiative for that sal- vation comes from God alone. The prophet Joel looks forward to the day when all Israel’s sons and daughters will become as prophets in the land. Psalm 65 is a psalm of thanksgiving for the “God of our salvation.” The writer of Second Timothy elevates his own achievements by means of athletic imagery, but the reading concludes with an acknowledgment that strength and deliverance have come and will come from God. The story of the prayers of the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke suggests the perils of ignoring the fundamental truth of Joel 2 and Psalm 65. The Pharisee presumes that his achievements are his alone; the tax collector knows that prayer begins and ends with a cry to God for mercy.
• Read Joel 2:23-32. In the face of tragedy, how can we encourage one another to see with Joel’s eyes?
• Read Psalm 65. What in the created world brings words of praise of the Creator to your lips? What ridges and furrows in your life need God’s softening?
• Read 2 Timothy 4:6-8, 16-18. What would it look like in your life to run the race God has set before you without striving to outrun others?
• Read Luke 18:9-14. Where might God be inviting your grati- tude? How can your gratitude to God lead to tangible love of a neighbor you might have otherwise disregarded?
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