Context is Everything

My Mom had Psalm 46:5 marked in her Bible with “For Kaysie” written next to it for as long as I could remember.

God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.

It comforted me knowing she was believing this for me and praying this for me even though, to be honest, my own faith for believing this as truth was shaky.

I figured, though, that I could afford to be a little shaky with my mom standing in my stead.

Her faith was solid. I took full advantage of the “by proxy” role she was more than happy to play and let her faith it up for me. I did this despite all evidence to the contrary that there was any real truth to her stance, because, God bless her, even though she was a fiery little woman with a big heart and even bigger dreams – especially for her now fully grown children – her life had mostly been one hard knock after another. And, truthfully, my brother and I had often suffered right along with her.

So, as you can imagine, it was hard for me to align myself with her belief system even though, hypocritically, I really did rely on it kind of as an insurance plan.

You know – if my way of thinking about God and reality and things didn’t work out then I would have mom’s to lean into.

And then she died.

And the loss of her – a loss like none other I’ve known – also meant the loss of my proxy.

And suddenly, Psalm 46:5 – yes, the tagline at the top of my shiny new blog – became really problematic for me.

The amount of time I have spent stewing over this verse in the last year is embarrassing. Sometimes I read it and let it wash over me and soothe my grief. Sometimes I read it and fume because very little in my life (or in most lives, for that matter) lines up with what’s being stated here. Oh, the contradiction!

Yes, I can be dramatic. Whatever.

And then, not long ago when we passed the one year mark of Mom’s death, I had a brilliant idea that I’m sure no other person in the history of the world has ever had before me.

I decided to read the verse in the context of the WHOLE PSALM.

Yes, sometimes I’m a really smart idiot.

Whatever.

So I did. I read the whole Psalm.

And, oh my.

And, wait a second.

All of a sudden I realized that verse 5 is not talking about a person . It’s not really referring to me at all.

GASP.

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME?

Actually, silly girl, the Psalmist is referring to the city of God.

He is within HER (the city of God). SHE (the city of God) will not fall. God will help HER (the city of God) at the break of day.

Now, that’s not to say that God isn’t with me and helping me.

I believe He is.

But what I love about this verse of Scripture is that it’s actually sandwiched in between these descriptions of great devastation happening all around the city of God. The earth is giving way, the mountains are falling into the heart of the sea and quaking, nations are in uproar, kingdoms are falling, and so on and so forth.

I mean, we’re talking apocalyptic-type stuff here.

Not to be too dramatic, but sometimes I can relate.

And I’ve decided that this Psalmist is a bit of a crazy psalmist (and kind of reminds me of my therapist – who I adore, by the way) because then at the end of this song about the coming devastation of the world, when all of us are trembling with anxiety and fear and overwhelmed with big feelings about what we cannot control, all of a sudden he brings everything down to almost a whisper that says “Be still, and know that I am God. “

For the love, man.

Does he have any idea how hard that is?

Yeah, he probably does.

Sigh.

I know I should give the guy some credit for starting the whole Psalm off by reminding us that God is our refuge and strength, but the truth is, sometimes, when the world is falling apart around you, it’s really hard to remember this.

And even if you remember He’s got a safe place for you to run to when you’re tired, scared, hurting, overwhelmed and your world is literally melting underneath you, you may have forgotten practically how to get there. Or how to practice being there.

Because it’s very hard to “be still” when the mountains are falling into the heart of sea and the waters roar and foam.

But, in the end, despite all of my wrestling and challenging and foundation-shaking questioning, I think I’ve come to a pretty solid conclusion…I don’t believe that God keeps us from falling or even very often saves us at the break of day, but I DO BELIEVE that He offers us a safe place in Him (the city of God) that WILL NOT FALL where we can go to find help at the break of day…and peace and comfort and rest in the midst of whatever devastation we are facing.

So I feel like Mom was on to something when she wrote “For Kaysie” beside that verse.

I’m owning my tagline.

P. S. As part of my journey in learning to dwell in the “city of God” as my world is crumbling around me (or is noisy, or I’m in physical pain, or just tired, or anxious, etc.), I’ve begun to practice this simple prayer of being from Fr. Richard Rohr that is beautifully described here: https://gravitycenter.com/practice/be-still/

2 thoughts on “Context is Everything

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