Wednesday, November 9, 2011

How To Begin The Long Road

They say a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

And it's true.

But sometimes I wonder if it takes a thousand tries just to make that very first step.

Still, I've set my heart on pilgrimage, so I pick up a pen and open the book that's leading me down this road, leading me to Him.

I'm about to make the slow climb through the Psalms of Ascent but I read the first one and find myself lost before I've even begun.

Psalm 120
I call on the LORD in my distress,
and he answers me.
Save me, O LORD, from lying lips
and from deceitful tongues.
 

What will he do to you,
and what more besides, O deceitful tongue?
He will punish you with a warrior’s sharp arrows,
with burning coals of the broom tree.
 

Woe to me that I dwell in Meshech,
that I live among the tents of Kedar!
Too long have I lived
among those who hate peace.
I am a man of peace;
but when I speak, they are for war.

The first line resonates deep--but the rest?  I wonder where He is trying to take me.

I might hear a voice whispering that I'll never understand, that I've misread His leading, that I should just turn and walk away.  But I haven't made a thousand tries yet, so I push aside all the resistance and listen to a woman who has gone before:

The Psalms of Ascent begin with a distress call.  Not a bad place to start a journey.  Sometimes the best motivation we'll ever have for going someplace new is distress over someplace old.
.......


Note how much ink the relatively brief first Psalm of Ascent gives to the psalmist's complaint about liars.  You'd have to live under a rock not to be hurt sometime by another person's deception.
.......


The Psalmist began his pilgrimage by giving way to a classic "woe to me" moment.  Before he could make future progress, he tried to take present stock.  Though the two place names are foreign to us, what Meshech and Kedar represent certainly is not.  The psalmist meant that he was a long way from home and from where he wished to be.


~Beth Moore, Psalms of Ascent

Now it's my turn to pen a psalm of my own, record my journey's beginning with words and hope and courage.  But I struggle for days, a week even, to refine thoughts with Truth, cut away all that distracts from the story He's writing.  And when I finally step back to see what's come of all this wrestling, it's clear that there's no paraphrasing here, only an echo of the psalmist's heart by a fellow pilgrim on her way to meet with God.

My Psalm 120

Broken on the floor,
I cry out to the One Who
Sees and Hears and Is:
"Oh, my God, deliver me
From the lies I've whispered
To my own soul--
Lies that have left me here
Alone and afraid.

For too long have I lived

In the City of Not Enough,
Made my home among
Responsibility and Expectation.
How I yearn for You,
Oh, my God,
But when I try to reach You
I can't break free from
The chains of my own making.
Is there no hope for me?

But my God sees
And He hears and He is--
And He says, "Come."
It takes everything I have
But it's all He asks
So I take His hand
And I say, "Yes."


At the rate I'm going, I'm starting to think this road might really be a thousand miles after all.  But He's speaking and I'm listening and together we're going wherever He wants to take me.

Because maybe the long journey doesn't begin with a single step.  Maybe it really begins with a single word.

Yes.



{I'm slowly working my way through Beth Moore's Psalms of Ascent study and trying to share my journey with you as I go.  I pray that you will find nourishment here for your own pilgrimage--and please feel free to ask any questions or share any thoughts you have in the comments.  Grace to you, Friends.}

4 comments:

  1. Oh, Courtney, that prayer poem is beautiful. The lies we tell ourselves and believe may be the most damaging of all.

    Unsolicited advice warning: May I offer hope for those chains? Two passages of Scripture came to mind right away as I read your words: Psalm 107:10-16 and Acts 16:25-34. If they don't "have your name on them," please disregard, but perhaps there's something there for you.

    Blessings in Jesus, friend.

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  2. i like the way you speak of "whispering" lies to your soul: i think we often try to deceive ourselves quietly and unobtrusively, lest those around us come to know of our self-deception, and un-deceive us.

    thank you for the poem, and for sharing your pilgrimage with us: there is indeed lots to nourish here!

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  3. @tinuviel: Thank you for kind words here...the study was focusing on the hurt from other people's deceptions and I just couldn't stop thinking about all the ways we deceive ourselves and how that may really be the most painful of all the lies we tell.

    And unsolicited advice? How can that be when I've clearly invited comments :o). Besides, I am most grateful for everything you offer. I haven't had time to pour over those scriptures you've mentioned but I am most definitely looking forward to it. Thank you, always, for pointing me back to Him.

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  4. @chris: Thank you so much for your comment. The word "whispering" slipped out when I was writing and I didn't even stop to think about why it was so *right* for what I was wanting to say. But you have delineated it so perfectly. Oh, how I wish we could fully grasp how quickly the lies and the fears would slip away if we could find the courage to speak them into the Light, let Truth open our eyes to who we really are.

    So glad to know there is nourishment here for you. Much grace to you wherever you are on this journey.

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