A Reflection on Psalm 40
I didn’t grow up in the Church.
In fact, most of my family still wouldn’t identify as Christian. I attended a Methodist church in my hometown of Sanford, NC for a brief time in high school. But, if I’m honest, going to church at that time was less about worshiping Jesus and more about getting to spend time with a cute boy I liked.
I didn’t attend church while in college at Florida State University either. Except for one semester. That is until a faith-based sorority I wanted to join asked me to sign a contract about all the things I would and wouldn’t do. I knew I wouldn’t uphold their pious demands. So I withdrew my request to be initiated and left the church. If I couldn’t live up to the so-called “standards” of the faith, then God probably didn’t want me in His club either.
A few years later, however, I moved to Abilene, TX, and met the man who would become my husband. He invited me to church, and even though I was sure a bolt of lightning from heaven would strike me down when I walked through the door, I went.
That Sunday changed my life forever.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was stuck in the “mud and mire.” I had a new career as a TV Meteorologist and Reporter and loved the idea of being a young professional on the rise. But I struggled with the idea that God wanted nothing to do with me. I’d messed up too many times for God to ever truly love me. And I wasn’t worthy.
That Sunday morning, sitting in a new church in a new town, I felt the still small voice of God whisper to me that He wasn’t finished with me yet, and the dam began to break. For the first time in years, I felt the reality of God’s love for me, and the possibility that I could be forgiven.
God turned to me and heard my cry. (v. 1)
And it may sound cheesy or overdramatic, but over the next few weeks, God really did begin to lift me out of the slimy pit (v. 2), so much so, that my college friends would probably find me unrecognizable. That party-girl, the same one who was scared to step foot in church now works in full-time ministry and is about to graduate from seminary!
Psalm 40 reminds me how powerful God’s love and mercy really are. God doesn’t care where you are or what you’ve done in life. He only wants to lift you up and set your feet on solid ground.
The psalmist writes in v. 4, Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord. The word “blessed” can more closely be translated to the English word for “happy.” My life is evidence that happiness and meaning truly come from trusting in God, allowing Him to shape your thoughts, purposes, and desires.
God doesn’t want our empty religious practices — our “burnt offerings” if you will (v. 6). What He wants is people who are willing to turn their hearts over to Him, who trust in God’s goodness and faithfulness, and are willing to let him reshape their lives, in faith that what He can do is far better than what we could do on our own.
Most days, I still feel “poor and needy” (v. 17). But I know that the Lord still thinks of me, just as He still thinks of you, each and every day. God is our help and deliverer. And if you’re ready and willing, He will lift you up, set your feet on solid ground, and put a new song in your mouth.
He’s done that for me; more so than I could have ever asked for or imagined. And my hunch is God wants to do something similar for you.
The question is, will you let Him?