New Year’s Resolution Update #1

It has been a while…

After an event like the trip to Cofradia it seems to be difficult to return to ordinary, everyday, week-by-week routine. Too often the mountain top experiences are followed by a dearth that threatens the growth fostered by those adventures that require us to trust outside of our ordinary and every day. I don’t think that it was any coincidence that Jesus was tested in the wilderness immediately after God’s affirmation of pleasure at his baptism (Matthew 3:13-4:11). Not that Christ’s faith in his Father was outside of his own ordinary, he was Divine in himself, but the devil has proven methods of inserting doubt, and the dearth after heights is certainly one of those times.

Jesus fought the devil’s temptations with his knowledge and understanding of Scripture. I have been finding wonderful peace and blessings in the journal activity I began as a New Year’s resolution.

I admitted as I started (here), that I have found expressions in the Psalms that have enabled my mind to sort out my emotions. I have turned to the Psalms in times when I just couldn’t find the words to express what I was concerned over or what I even needed God’s clarity for. I am thoroughly enjoying writing out the words, metaphors, poetry, fears, and blessings in the psalms. What I really didn’t anticipate was the pleasures I would find in the commentary I chose to accompany my devotions – Heart Aflame: Daily Readings from Calvin on the Psalms, by John Calvin (1999, P&R Publishing Company). Yes, it is THAT John Calvin.

An inspiring guide to the Psalms as "an anatomy of all the parts of the soul."

From Sinclair B. Ferguson’s introduction, “You may have mixed feelings about a book of daily readings from John Calvin’s writings. His name is not the first that comes to the minds of most Christians as the ideal companion to give the wisdom, encouragement, and direction that most of us are looking for each day. We use books like this one to “prime the pump” spiritually, and Calvin’s name is not often associated with giving people a “quick start”! Was he not a towering genius, intimidating in his theological acumen, rather than the kind of person whose daily company we might naturally seek?” “Calvin vividly described the psalms as “an anatomy of all the parts of the soul.” “Calvin’s way of reading the Bible was deeply influenced by Luke’s marvelous account of the disciples on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). He was gripped by the idea that the whole Bible was somehow related to Christ – “Christ is the scope of all the Scriptures” was how he expressed it.

From Calvin’s own words, his observations echoed what I sought:

  • “I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, “An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;” for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.” [In the Psalms are] “those things which serve to teach us the true method of praying aright.” …”[T]here is opened up to us familiar access to God, but also that we have permission and freedom granted to us to lay open before him our infirmities, which we would be ashamed to confess before men.” (Introduction to Calvin’s Commentary on the Psalms)
  • “The use of praying is, that God may be the witness of all our affections; not that they would otherwise be hidden from him, but when we pour out our hearts before him, our cares are hereby greatly lightened, and our confidence of obtaining our requests increases.” (Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 10)
  • “The Psalms are replete with all the precepts which serve to frame our life to every part of holiness, piety, and righteousness, yet they will principally teach and train us to bear the cross; and the bearing of the cross is a genuine proof of our obedience, since by doing this, we renounce the guidance of our own affections, and submit ourselves entirely to God, leaving him to govern us, and to dispose of our life according to his will, so that the affections which are the bitterest and most severe to out nature, become sweet to us, because they proceed from him.” (Introduction)

Going on a mission trip is a step in faith. It makes us stretch our trust in God beyond what it has ever been. I am finding my faith stretched and strengthened by reading AND enjoying the writings of John Calvin in the Psalms. Truly part of the pattern of sound words.

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  1. Trackback: A New Word « The Pattern of Sound Words

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