Where were you one year ago today? What were you preoccupied with?
I was in New York City with some great friends and co-workers going to the Hillsong conference. I was just the fill-in. My name had been put on the tickets months ago but we were going to have a new worship leader go in my stead as soon as that person was hired. I would definitely have signed up to go to NYC with this team, but I wouldn’t have signed up for this conference. I expected 4 days of experiencing church as a show, comparing our worship band to theirs, listening to talks and people and would only be momentarily important. (Cynical, much?)
Instead, a year ago today the Holy Spirit worked profound transformation in my soul.
And God chose to use a conference that cost a lot of money with phenomenal producers, videos, musicians and preachers. And I am so grateful.
Judah Smith preached on Psalm 130. You’d probably recognize this one. It’s the one that says, “More than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning…”
Let me tell you about this Psalm. The Psalmist has been waiting and praying for something for a long time. And he’s gotten no answer. And he’s no closer. And in the opening stanzas, he sounds remarkably pitiful.
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!
O Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my pleas for mercy
I’ve cried out plenty. At that point, I had been 7 years infertile and 3 years sounding like this. Hear me… Let your ears hear me… Hear the voice of my pleas… for mercy.
Then, I’m not sure I could tell you why, the Psalmist starts doing some personal reflecting– not on where he was but on where and who God was.
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared
And so did I. Who was I to plea for a baby? If I backed up and got the full scope of my life, I didn’t feel pitiful for not having a child anymore. I felt… well overwhelmed that I was in a place to ask God— the God of the universe— for anything! For if God listens to every one of my pleas, then surely he has also paid attention to my sin. He’s seen the envy in my heart. He’s seen the judgment of others for whom babies came easy. He’s seen my controlling nature. Oh man, if God keeps record of that, there’s no way I could stand.
And then there is this beautiful turning point— “with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” The Psalmist remembers who God is. And he chooses to dwell and reflect on that rather than on his own self-pity. How many journals have I filled with my own pity? How many have I filled with the praise of who God is?
As the voice of praise came out of my mouth, that voice overshadowed the voice of the pleas for mercy. Oh, I certainly kept praying for a child. But I didn’t feel pitiful about it anymore. I felt praiseworthy. The Psalmist didn’t forget his pleas for mercy, either, but listen to how differently he prays now:
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning,
more than watchmen for the morning
My soul waits. My soul waits. That part of me that is God-breathed. That part of me that is actually the very borrowed breath of God himself. That soul part of me waits for the Lord.
I wish I could paint this for you— maybe it would come across better in art than in words. That pitiful heart became a praising heart that was waiting with hope. The circumstances had NOT changed. Nothing outwardly had changed. Oh but inside, my soul— my soul was different. Different because I reflected on who God is, and I wanted to wait with him. Wait on him. Trust that his seasons, all of them, are good.
And when your soul feels healed like that, emboldened, full of hope like that, oh how that pity turns to preaching! Listen…
O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is plentiful redemption.
And he will redeem Israel
from all his iniquities.
He preaches hope! Hope in the Lord! Not hope that whatever he was waiting for is going to happen. Actually, there’s no reassurance of that at all. And there was no reassurance last October that my infertile circumstance was going to change. But what changed was the posture of pity to the posture of one who knows she is loved and redeemed and plentifully bought back.
I knew that by the end of that Psalm God wasn’t going to redeem our infertility in a one-for-one redemption. He was going to buy it back abundantly. Maybe not with a child. But with something— something eternal. Something that would bring glory to him. Something that would make it matter.
It took a week for my soul to receive that transformation. It was a resurrection, really. My deflated, pitiful soul was re-breathed by a Creator full of steadfast love. And he called me to preach to the Church— “Hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is plentiful redemption.”
Pastor Mark let me preach that in December last year during Advent— the season of waiting. No circumstance had changed, but my soul, oh my soul was already receiving the steadfast love of the Lord. And I so wanted others to know the resurrection power God had brought to my soul. I wanted them to know that with God, in his presence, is forgiveness, steadfast love and plentiful redemption.
And that would have been enough.
But plentiful does the Lord’s redemption continue to be. And now for a year just as watchmen wait for the morning we have watched as the Creator has been bringing a dawn to our season of infertility. And exactly a year later we are waiting for our son to arrive… any minute… that dawn is on the horizon– he will surely arrive! Soon!
Thank you, God, for your Psalm 130 for without its words I would be speechless. May your Word continue to work life and plentiful redemption in the ears of all who hear. And may you continue to hear the voice of our pleas for mercy. Would you transform us from pitiful to preacher that we might bring hope to a world desperate with pleas for mercy. And may we live to see the dawn of your plentiful redemption.