Goodnight Moon



I am just worn out with the turmoil.

Because lately, the inside of my brain has been feeling a lot like this:


I am worn out with arguments. Worn out by the incessant, never ending torrent of words that flood from the fingertips and/or mouths of a few. Whether it’s a religious/doctrinal issue, or a political issue, or a “preparing for a depression/it’s the downfall of capitalism” issue, I have just had enough.

Enough!!!

Honestly, I have enough issues in my own life that need attention, without getting myself worked up into a frenzy about one. more. thing.

And that’s why, I am so glad to tell you, that today’s psalm of ascent, Psalm 131, has nothing to do with any of those issues. In fact, in many ways, this psalm, to me, is the antithesis of turmoil.

Here’s the text in the original:

My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.
But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.

So, let’s look at it a little chunk at a time. Here’s the first verse again:

“My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty.”

You know, God hates arrogance. He abhors pride. He says so, often in the Bible. Why do you think that is? I have some theories about that.

I think one reason he hates arrogance is that it blocks our intimacy with Him. When we think we know it all, or at least have most of the answers, why would we reach out to Him anyway? We’ve got it figured out: no need to consult.

But our arrogance also causes us to judge others. And once we’ve got them labeled and categorized, we can easily dismiss them. Or condemn them. Even though that is most certainly NOT how we ourselves want to be treated. But arrogance can cause us to stumble into this trap.

When arrogance fills our minds, there is no room for mercy, or grace. We don’t reach out to others in love, because we see them as below our own superior abilities.

And those are some pretty good reasons that God might have for despising arrogance. If the two greatest laws are to love God with all our hearts, and to love our neighbor as ourself, then arrogance stands directly in the way of allowing us to fulfill either of those commandments.

Moving on in the psalm:

“I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.”

When Job’s friends tried to explain the ways of God to Job, and Job argued back presenting his own position, and in the process – while sounding wise – they all pretty much got everything wrong for about 34 chapters (and that was another torrent of words, if you ask me), God finally responds. In chapter 38, He shows up to settle the argument, and you know whose side he takes? No one’s. Well, maybe Job’s a little bit, but mostly he just sets all 4 of them straight with this verse:

“Who is this that darkens my counsel with words without knowledge?”

I sometimes sorta wish He’d just step in and settle a religious argument or a political argument, once and for all, except I’d probably find myself sitting there with my hand over my mouth, just like Job did, and like his friends should have.

Maybe we’d all be a lot better off if we followed the advice of the writer of the book of Ecclesiastes, who said in chapter 5, verse 2:

“God is in heaven,
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.”

(Hmmm….after reading that verse, maybe I should just shut down the blog…)

Tragedies happen. Things have happened in my own life and in the lives of my friends: illnesses, deaths. Things for which I have absolutely no explanation. And I think that rather than blathering on in ignorance about why things happen, sometimes a great big, “I got nuttin'” is perfectly acceptable, and perhaps even the wisest course.

I will offer up, however, a quote from an English monk of the 11th century named Anselm:

“I do not seek, O Lord, to penetrate thy depths. I by no means think my intellect equal to them; but I long to understand in some degree thy truth, which my heart believes and loves. For I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe, that I may understand.”

Good stuff, huh?

Back to the psalm:

“But I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord
both now and forevermore.”

So the image the psalmist paints here is that of a content toddler – a child who trusts his parent, even with very difficult questions unanswered.

Isaiah 66:13 says:

“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”

And that’s the image I am clinging to right now.

Is there any stage of human development more busy, more active than that of a weaned child – the toddler stage? Oh, my goodness, my kids absolutely wore me out!!!! No, seriously! They did!!! They could go more places in a split second, and think of more things to get into that they shouldn’t, than you could shake a stick at. They were into everything!!! But at the end of the exhausting activities of the day, after they’d had their baths, and they smelled all fresh and sweet, they would climb up into my lap for that goodnight story and cuddle. When they were barely beginning to learn to speak, I think we read “Goodnight Moon” eight thousand five hundred and fifty two times. Over and over again, and I truly think that book played a big role in their language development, as I would point to the nouns: the moon, the room, the cow jumping over the moon, the light, and the red balloon.


They would lean their heads against my chest, and as they listened again to that story, the Sand Man would begin sprinkling a stray grain or two of sand near the corner of their eyes, and they would tiredly swipe at their eyes with the back of their hands, and finally relax and give in to the peace settling over them. Is there any more intimate, more surrendered time with your child than those sweet moments?

Well, that’s what I hear the psalmist calling me to as I read this psalm: a surrender to the most wonderful, loving parent of all, my Father in Heaven.

So, for what it’s worth, here’s my own version of Psalm 131:

“I have finally figured out, Lord,
that I’m not the Queen of the Universe.
And I’m good with that.

I can’t explain all mysteries,
and quite frankly, I’m relieved I don’t have to.

But here in the quiet, Lord,
I’m ready to just sit a while with You
and lean my head back on Your chest
and feel Your arms around me
and receive Your loving comfort in my soul.

O people who belong to God! Put your hope in Him,
Both now and forevermore!”

Goodnight, Moon. At least till tomorrow.


Yum
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