DO YOU GET TONGUE-TIED WHEN SHARING YOUR FAITH?
DO YOUR HANDS GET CLAMMY WHEN YOU EXPLAIN WHY YOU BELIEVE?
I’m facilitating a summer study for skeptics. Two weeks ago one of the skeptics asked such a good question: “Why do you pray? What do you get?” I fear those whom she was asking looked like deer caught in the headlights, for we so wanted to give the “right” answer. What I heard expressed was platitudes. I could tell that our sincere question-asker wasn’t satisfied! My friend Twila had to miss that week and I e-mailed her we’d dropped the ball. She said, “Oh, I wish I’d been there, because I know what I would have said!” She then e-mailed me a testimony, based on Psalm 18 (which has many parallels to this week’s Psalm 40.)
I told her that I so wanted her to share her story, and that perhaps God would give her a chance the next week. I didn’t want to force it, but to trust His Spirit, but I also knew that Twila is an introvert, so I decided to sit next to her on the sofa in case I needed to elbow her.
I have been reading an illuminating book on introverts called Quiet, by Susan Cain.
It is a secular book filled with wisdom. It has truly caused me to reflect on how often we let the talkative people dominate and steer, to the loss of discussion groups, church search committees, and all kinds of arenas. (An interesting observation the author makes is that quiet people are more able to speak up on blogs where they are not trampled by loquacious extroverts.) Twila has been a gift to me as I have spent my first year living year round in this remote wilderness of Wisconsin. I know she is a quiet stream that runs deep, for to increase her intimacy with God she memorizes. Last year she memorized Ephesians, James, and Romans — this year she’s memorizing Hebrews. And so, I elbowed her when I thought it was time for her to share her story. (I was actually saying, Do you think this might be the time? But it is hard to communicate all that through an elbow!)
She looked surprised and asked, “You want me to share my story? On Psalm 18?”
I decided it was the right time, so said, “Please!” (Now there was no hiding that we had conspired!)
And so she opened her Bible to Psalm 18 and explained that she had suffered for ten years in a clinical depression. She said, “Let me read to you how I felt.”
The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.
Then she began to cry, saying she hoped she could get through this. I told her I was sure she could.
She laughed through her tears and continued.
In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
She cried again. Everyone was listening. The woman who had asked the question, my sister Bonnie, and the religious who don’t yet get the gospel. “And this,” Twila said, “is what happened.” Then, with tears streaming and Marietta searching her purse for Kleenex to give her, Twila bravely shared:
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
and the foundations of the mountains shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at your rebuke, Lord,
at the blast of breath from your nostrils.
“And this is why I cry out to God.” She continued:
He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
At our coffee break the question-asker came over and put her arm around Twila and thanked her for her helpful answer. So simple. When apologetics fail us, a testimony has power. I was blind but now I see. I was sinking and He put my feet upon a rock. I was grief-struck and He restored my joy.
Sara Grove’s Conversations says, “We’ve had every conversation in the book — but have I told you this is all that I have and all that I am?” Here’s one video version of that great song:
1. What stood out to you from the above and why?
Monday -Tuesday: Your Turn
2. Review some of the psalms in Book One that impacted you and choose one part of one and write a paragraph testimony on a word document, concise and clear, and come back here and paste it in.
3. Tuesday is our own Joyce’s birthday. I don’t usually acknowledge birthdays here, but Joyce has been with us from the beginning and has prayed so faithfully for all of us. She is now standing in the need of prayer — all the problems with her back, her constant care for Kendra, her adult child who is disabled mentally and physically, and the lack of a good resolution on the horizon are weighing on her. Indeed, I know she feels often like this psalmist. May we intercede for her together, using the psalms.
Wednesday-Friday Bible Study
This video from Chrissie Zeph of Redeemer reminds me of Psalm 40:
4. Read Psalm 40 aloud to yourself.
A. What testimony is in verses 1-3?
B. What do you learn about God in verses 4-5?
C. What do you learn about Jesus in verses 8-17?
5. What passage from Psalm 40 quickens you and why?
6. How is this psalm an answer to Psalms 38-39?
7. Share a time when God seemed silent, but finally, broke through.
8. Read Psalm 41 aloud to yourself.
A. This psalm shows a gamut of emotions, as does Book One of the psalter. Find some of those emotions.
B. How can you see Christ in this psalm? Are you becoming more aware of Christ in the psalms? If so,
C. What quickens you from this psalm?
D. Pray this psalm.
9. . What testimony from your blog sisters ministered to you and why?