Submitted by Brian Flewelling, TTWM Partner
Raw and Unedited
One reason the Psalms are so deeply cherished by so many people is their transparency. They are refreshingly honest. The disheveled heart is dumped out like a junk draw with it’s keepsakes and trash all mixed up. Stinging emotions, next to beautiful praise. Doubts next to trusting faith. The “bad parts…may be entwined with the most exquisite things,” C.S. Lewis observes. Even praise can be butted up to the blackest anger, “The hatred is there festering, gloating, undisguised.”
What a great mixture we find in Psalm 42. It is an eruption from the depths of human emotion. We hear the panting of the soul that’s hungry for God (v.1-2). We hear the withering mockery of the godless, “where is your God” (v.3). We hear the nostalgic reminiscing of a man with loss (v.4). We hear the self-talk of one crippled by depression (v.5-11). And there glittering in the midst of those final six verses of tar and mire is a beautiful gem of perfect comfort, “by day the Lord directs his love, at night his song is with me” (v.8).
Often in leadership we are cocooned by people with expectations and demands. It is easy to become encrusted in a plaster of success, to hide behind a mask of performance, or determination. In church culture this inauthenticity is dangerous. David knew how to bring his soul to the Lord.
The Psalms are undomesticated and impassioned. They burst through the cheap veneer of religious culture. Their honest prayers can be heard as quickly on the lips of prostitutes as on churchmen in pews. The dysfunction can be jarring, sometimes painful to listen to. But they resemble mankind exactly as he is, and not as he should be. And God has never been afraid to meet us where we are, whether in life or leadership. Let us bring our raw and unedited hearts before him. And let him help us sort through the jagged pieces of our lives. For he wants nothing more than to be our counselor, shepherd and companion.