God Picked Me Up

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

 

One of the many distinct privileges throughout my life has been the opportunity to hear wonderful preachers in a vast variety of settings and locations. Of course, technology makes everything far more accessible these days, so the blessing is multiplied!

 

As a college student in the Boston area, I distinctly remember Stuart Briscoe guest preaching at the church I was attending, Park St. Church, adjacent to the Boston Common. He preached on Psalm 40 which is a favorite of many. As best as I remember, he preached about God turning toward us, God hearing our cry, God lifting us up out of the slimy pit, God setting our feet on solid ground, and God giving us a new song to sing. To put it into “three point outline form”, Briscoe summarized it this way: “God picked me up; God set me up; God tuned me up.”

 

Many years later, Nina and I had the opportunity to attend a conference for pastors at Gordon Conwell Seminary at which Briscoe was speaking. We happened to be staying at the same B&B as the Briscoe’s and had a delightful conversation about that Psalm and his sermon! We never know how God will cause things to stick in our minds! And, we’ll never know with whom we might have a conversation with someone God brings our way.

 

I did a quick search this morning, and discovered a more recent sermon outline by Briscoe who is now 90 years old! The title of the sermon is “How Are You Feeling” (which can be a “casual greeting” or a “serious inquiry”). The “Sinking Feeling” is marked by having “nowhere to go but down; nothing to do but struggle, and no one to call on except God.” The “Singing Feeling” is marked by the reality that “God listened, God lifted, and God liberated.” The outline is simple in form, which makes it easy to remember. It also speaks to the profound realities of God’s faithfulness, mercy, and love.

 

Below is a poem written by Rev. Malcolm Guite, a contemporary poet and priest in England. He writes a daily devotional that Nina reads regularly, and this is his response to Psalm 40 which he posted earlier today.

 

The stone itself will soon be rolled away,
I wait in patience, all expectantly,
Firm on this rock above the miry clay.

Where He has set me in His loving mercy.
I sing my psalm in Christ who sings in me,
A new song made in His Love’s mystery:

Your wondrous works all rise like wings in me
And lift my heart to praise. I hear your call,
The simple call of Love: “Oh come to me,

Bring me no gifts, for I have made them all,
Just bring yourself, and open up your heart.”
And so I come to You and bring You all,

All that I am and have been; joy and hurt,
Glory and shame, I bring you everything,
That you might make me whole in every part

In these final days and weeks of summer, I am praying that God will continue to be powerfully present in each of our lives. The Psalms are a wonderful reminder of the depth of our need and the miracle of God’s provision in any and every circumstance.

Blessings in Christ,

John

PS Here is a link to Guite’s poem:

https://malcolmguite.wordpress.com/2020/08/05/lo-i-come-a-response-to-psalm-40/