As I was soaking in Psalm 42 in the Amplified Bible this morning, verse eight really jumped out at me.
Yet the Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
To give a brief summary of my background, I grew up in a non-Christian blue-collar family in the Philadelphia area. Graduating from High School in 1966, I ended up in the Army and got heavily involved in drugs during my yearlong deployment to Vietnam from 68 to 69. Later in 1970, while stationed in Okinawa, I came to Christ through the witness of a friend named Robin.
Shortly thereafter I ran into The Navigators and got training with them in the military ministry in San Diego and later in Hawaii. In 1973, I moved to Tucson, Arizona to be a part of the student work at the University of Arizona.
I recall being very driven and legalistic in my early years as a disciple in the military ministry. I studied at U of A from 1974 to 1978 and lived in the dorms. In those years, slowly I began to move away from legalism into a new realization of God’s grace and lovingkindness.
I remember reading Psalm 42:8 in my dorm room in 1974. The phrase “His song shall be with me, a prayer to the God of my life” really spoke to me. In the seventies, folk music was the rage and especially a group known as “Peter, Paul, and Mary.” One of the songs they performed that I liked was “Puff the Magic Dragon.” As I soaked in Psalm 42:8 a song came to me to the tune of Puff, the Magic Dragon.” Here’s my recollection of this prayer to the God of my life:
My prayer to You, Lord Jesus,
As I labor in the race,
Is to know Your very presence,
And the glory of Your grace.
That I may truly know You,
And Your own servant be,
And that the fervent love of Jesus,
Would radiate through me.
Almost forty years later, I realized today that this is still my song to the God of my life. I can clearly see how walking with my True Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit over the years has enabled me to experience the glory of His grace. Although there’ve been lots of ups and many downs, He’s been extremely faithful in extending incredible kindness to me. It’s like what Paul wrote to Titus in verses 4 – 7:
But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
As if this isn’t enough, He’s allowed me to know His very presence. To paraphrase Isaiah 43:2, as I’ve passed through deep waters, He’s been right there with me. At times the river has been extremely deep, but He’s never allowed it to completely overflow me. Yes, significant fires have raged, but I have never been scorched and the flames did not burn me up. Why? Though I’ve passed lots of difficult situations, He has never failed me nor forsaken me (Hebrews 13:5).
Over these forty years, though wavering at times, my heart cry has been that I may truly know Him. In my earlier years I was obsessed with knowing the power of His resurrection (Philippians 3:10). I wasn’t very interested in the second part of Philippians 3:10 and knowing the fellowship of His sufferings. As God and life have introduced me to suffering, the result has enriched my intimacy with Jesus immeasurably. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief … (Isaiah 53:3).
None of us enjoys sensing that another person despises us. I have lived most of my life with an underlying fear of rejection. However as the Savior has taken me to places I didn’t really want to go and allowed me to experience this sorrow and grief, it has enhanced my intimate experience of Him. Paul’s prayer for the Galatian believers (Galatians 4:19): My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.
As I’ve gone kicking and screaming and finally began to embrace suffering, it has worked deep within my heart to fulfill the last verse of my prayer song. The fervent love of Jesus has been radiating in and through me on a more consistent basis as His heart is formed within me.
Each of us is on a journey characterized by many twists and turns. Have you given much thought to the prayer God has been singing over your life during the last year? Here are a few questions to ask Him about.
1. His grace: God says My grace is sufficient for you and that My strength is perfected in your weakness. Lord Jesus, would you remind me of one place where I’ve experienced your grace perfected in my weakness this last year?
2. His presence: Where did you sense His presence carrying you through deep waters and raging fires?
3. His sufferings: Where has He allowed you to enter into the fellowship of His sufferings?
4. Thanksgiving: Take the time to thank Him for His lovingkindness in the things He’s taken you through.