Fierce Allies Facing Us in a Fall of Crashing Waves
Crashing and roaring, the wave has picked him up and somersaulted him. Reaching underwater, I grab my wet, wide-eyed son and hug him close. His heart beats madly against his chest, and I can feel it smashing against my arm.
“Are you okay, buddy?” I ask, still hugging him tightly to me, my heart pounding fast too.
We’ve been jumping and riding wave crests in the Pacific Ocean, the five of us Dougans. My daughter-in-law rests peacefully on the sand near my brother, while Marco and I grin giddy at each of our three kids in the sea: tall 25-year old John, 21-year old Morgan, and caramel summer haired Daniel, his 12 year old frame the shortest of us in the waves.
This last wave tumble and crash has been the worst though, and his hair is slicked close to his head; his chin drips water, his eyes big.
“You okay? That was a big one.”
On a cross-country road-trip home, I meet my aunt and uncle at a coffee-shop. Talking through face masks, we greet each other. She hands it to me, wrapped in a plastic bag. Gingerly unfolding it, I find a blue hardcover book with my grandpa’s name stamped on as author. Fragile thin paper and fading grey typed letters from April 1967 promise me a look at his Master’s-level dissertation. I thumb the binding and glance through the pages carefully, eager to learn his writing voice as I read it.
“Thank you, Rebecca! This will be so much fun to get to know Grandpa in this way,” I tell her, sipping some of my cafe latte, keeping the liquid far from the precious book.
Home again now after two weeks away, these memories come to mind as I scrawl verses from the Psalm I’m studying. The voice of this writer I have been studying for a week or so now. Asaph, who wrote several of the Psalm chapters in the Bible book of Psalms, has his own distinct voice. As a writer, I’m learning more about voice and enjoying seeing his, and anticipating reading and seeing my Grandpa’s academic written voice too from the 1960s.
I admit it. I’m a Bible, history, and archeology nerd! And knowing more of Asaph’s time period has fleshed out his writing to me in stark power. You see, he’s a Jewish refugee exiled far from home in the conqueror’s territory of Babylon, modern-day southern Iraq. Asaph has written searing, emotion-filled firsthand accounts of the violent war that decimated his nation, burned to the ground his city, and piled corpses high. Several chapters into his writing, I am now in Psalm 77, and he has already been crying out to God from his sorrow and anguish.
And I love that we can be honest with God about all that makes us sick with sorrow, mute in fear, and heavy with worry. Asaph starts there. Coming in full honesty before the God of the Universe, he cries out to God. How long…? Why did …? Why did you not…? Will you…?
But then he takes the critical next step. “Then I thought: ‘To this I will appeal: the years of the right hand of the Most High.’ I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago. I will meditate on all your works and consider all your mighty deeds. Your ways, O God, are holy. What god is so great as our God? You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples. With your mighty arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph.”
I love that in scary and discouraging times, the author Asaph is honest about his feelings and fears, and then he reminds himself to remember and meditate on God’s character and His past rescues. Faced with uncertain times and looming dangers, Asaph recounts and remembers God’s character, his promises, and his past behavior!
But lest we think that rescue and redeeming look like an absence of danger and action, the next verses dispel that, and I’m reminded again that the Bible term “to keep you from” is rather translated “to keep you through” and it speaks of God rescuing his people by walking with them protectively THROUGH the storms. The next verses in this Psalm 77 that speak of God’s rescues describe God walking his people through the writhing, convulsing waves, under clouds that “pour down water” and skies that “resound with thunder.” Arrows flash, thunder and whirlwinds crackle and blow, lightning lights up the world, and the earth itself seems to tremble. In that world, God leads a path “through the sea,” his “way through the mighty waters,” even though his “footprints were not seen.” “You led your people like a flock, by the hand…”
The ferocity of tumbling waves and uncertain times lead us to cry out to the God of the Universe who hears, who has been watching, who reaches his arm in to grab us from swirling waters. We can sputter and cough, speak out true feelings, and be held against his chest, our hearts still hammering fast.
Even though his footsteps may not always be seen, he is right here. He walks in front and beside, leading us in full loving ability.
Hi, friend! How are you? What has the month of August been like for you? (Click here to comment.)
As registration closes in a couple days, I wanted to make sure you knew about the Cover to Cover Bible Survey class that I teach and invite you to join me.
Working with Village Schools of the Bible who have been around for over 30 years, I am starting my 4th year of teaching with them and I love it! In a 16-week semester, we read through the Old Testament, learning about the history, culture, archaeology, and big picture that God is pointing to all throughout the Bible in Jesus. It is so much fun, and the discussions and time in God’s word are life-transforming! Registrations are here for my Blaine Monday night class from 6:45- 8:45 pm, starting this Monday, August 24th. Register online or by phone here. Videos, testimonials, and more details available too. Flyer attached below. Feel free to ask me questions about it too. I hope to see you there too! I can’t wait.
(Update: There seems to be a mix-up on their registration page. My class is indeed live and in person on Monday nights. Simply ask for Jennifer Dougan’s class and they can sign you up over the phone too. (952) 540-9460).