Summer in the Psalms - Psalm 36
A Love That Reaches for Me by Adam Curry
Oh hey, short on time? No worries! I'd love to join you on your commute or daily walk/run, or shoot, even while you take care of that to-do list. We can't let these things get in the way of this friendship. It's just starting to get good! Click below to listen to the blogcast.
There are certain songs we sing for celebration.
Happy Birthday is one of them.
We Are the Champions by Queen is another.
Celebrate Good Times by Kool & The Gang is another. (Try saying it without singing it. It's hard! ...and if you can get through those three words and resist saying the "C'mon!" that follows, oh you're good!)
And, it's the same for the psalms.
There are certain psalms we read at specific times and there are some verses we recall for celebration.
Yet, what if it's the celebratory verses that most need to be read when we feel the furthest from rejoicing?
The fifth verse of the thirty-sixth psalm is one of these. It speaks of the Lord's love reaching to the heavens and His faithfulness stretching to the sky.
We'd imagine a peppy beat from Kool & The Gang with this one, wouldn't we?
"Celebrate God's love ...C'mon!"
Okay, so song writing may not be my strength, but you get the point -
We read or hear this verse and are likely tempted to believe the heart behind this psalm is one of cheer, but as we read the context with the rest of the psalm, we see it actually comes from a heavy place.
This week, you get to meet my friend, Adam Curry, as he helps us see how we must turn to the goodness of God and find strength in the psalms when times are good but especially when our hearts are heavy.
Adam is a follower of Jesus, cyclist, NASA engineer, and homemade pizza fanatic always in search of the perfect crust. GET THIS. He’s one member of a large team researching electric flight and making it a reality.
I mean, can we all just say "Whaaaattttttt???!!!"
When not working, you can find him on his bike, serving coffee at church, and doing life with his close-knit family of friends in the mountains of Southern California.
Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness stretches to the skies. – Psalm 36:5
What makes you feel loved?
It could be a gift on your birthday.
Or a kind touch from that special someone.
Maybe it’s an honest-to-God letter you received in the mail.
If you’ve been in Western Evangelical Christendom for any length of time, you likely have heard of the five love languages as described by Gary Chapman, in his book under the same title.
One of the times that I felt most loved was when my life was pretty dark. My parents were in the middle of a divorce; engineering school was kicking my butt; and we were in the dark winter of Northern Idaho, meaning daylight and warmth were both scarce. But the choir I sang in shined light amidst the darkness. I’ve been musically inclined since I could remember, having sung in church from a young age but never in a formal choir until my third year of college, which quickly became one of my favorite electives.
Our recital was hours away, and I could feel the adrenaline as the performance drew near. I went all of three miles away to college, so I was happy to see a few family members afterwards. But I was blown away when my good friends Karl, Daniel, and Chuck all walked out of the auditorium into the hallway! I felt so incredibly valued and appreciated that they would take a couple hours out of their Saturday afternoon to come show their support.
Moments like these inspires poetry like Psalm 36:5, how God’s love reaches to the heavens. But love doesn’t always feel like this. In fact, love is probably difficult and tough more often than it’s an ethereal floating sensation with Cupid amongst the clouds.
This year’s beginning was eerily similar to 2020 for my small community in Southern(ish) California: my pastor’s teenage son, who had been miraculously healed of cancer as an infant, learned he had a small tumor in his abdomen. Barely a week later, another pastor suffered a life-threatening injury after confronting an intruder on his neighbor’s property. And since New Year’s Eve, I have been suffering from a herniated disc in my neck. It causes chronic pain from my spine to my left forearm and is causing muscle atrophy despite all the medical care I have sought.
These are not experiences that make us feel loved. Rather, they usually cause us to question if God loves us, or worse, wonder if we’ve done something to incur His wrath. In these moments it is pivotal we remember that what we do does not determine our worth or change God’s loving disposition toward us, because the central truth of the gospel is that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8) and nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38).
I recently had some friends over to play cribbage, and as they were on their way out the door we had one of those unexpected hallway conversations. I suddenly found myself spilling my guts about everything from my health to some relationship drama. With utmost compassion, Joe simply asked, “Adam, this is a lot. Can we pray for you, like now?”
Humbled and tearful, I sat down and they each laid a hand on my shoulder, praying for healing, wisdom, comfort, and expressing gratitude that I was part of their lives. I don’t know why God allows the seemingly immeasurable amount of suffering there is in the
world, but I wouldn’t know how much Joe and Julia care for me if I wasn’t suffering as I am.
We would never choose to plumb the depths of God’s love through pediatric cancer, cervical disc herniation, or a bullet piercing your abdomen, but it’s in these places that His presence is deeply known, maybe even more than when we’re on the mountaintop. He is with us through it all, inviting you and I to experience His love that literally reaches to the heavens.
Now, It's Your Turn!
Before opening God's Word, take a moment to pray and ask God to meet you there. Then...
Read Psalm 36 a couple times. Highlight what stands out to you.
Circle verbs or specific wording you notice.
Then, write down a bullet point takeaway based on this. "I-statements" help make this personal. Think of this as a challenge statement.
I will trust the Lord's love is able to reach and stretch farther than the depths of my circumstances.
Then, jot down a question or two to think about today. You don't have to have the answer to this question now. And yield to the Holy Spirit - prayerfully ask God to search your heart and lead you to more truth and grow your faith through the Holy Spirit.
Whether on the highest mountain or in the deepest valley or upon flattest plateau, where have I experienced God making His presence, love and faithfulness deeply known to me?
Again, we don't have to be Bible scholars and talk only in the thou's and art's of King James version to read this book ...because when we pray before we read, we are not alone. The Holy Spirit is with us, guiding and teaching us.
Praise God for this!
And praise God for refreshment as we are intentional to spend a summer in the Psalms together, for if we want His truth to ever be on our lips, it must first be planted in our hearts.
Our strength grows as we rely on strength from above. Our joy grows as we see God transforming us from the inside out. Our peace grows as we spend time in God's presence, and we find rest when we intentionally seek the Lord first in our lives, for the Lord is ever our portion.
The good life, well it starts with a good day. Then another. Then another. Let's choose to live #TheGoodDay one day at a time.
I love hearing from you, so go ahead. Leave a comment. Be brave. Maybe your comment will speak life into someone else!
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