By Jaime Sherman
In the 17 years that my husband and I have lived in our home, we have modified our gardening adventure every planting season. We change the layout of beds, boxes, and pots. We try new varieties of seeds to stick hopefully into the ground. And we’re always fiddling with the watering system. But one thing that has never changed is the springtime rebirth of my perennial herbs. They return with vigor and spring blossoms, reminding me that something old can be made new. And so it is with the Book of Psalms, the ancient collection of 150 songs and prayers written to our God.
As I prepared the UFC Women’s summer reading plan, I scanned the notes I have made over the years in my two journaling Bibles, and I was reminded that no matter how many times I read through the Psalms — or any part of God’s Word — the verses never grow old or out of date to a heart open before the Lord. Yes, I may have read through the 150 psalms dozens of times in my lifetime, but my notes bear witness that God’s Word is alive and was written for me today.
Opening to Psalm 90, where many of us started our Psalms reading last week, tears pooled as I noted the journey I penned next to these verses, especially verse 12, which has been highlighted in pink, underlined in blue and defined in black over the years:
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
In now-faded pencil, I asked myself application questions:
How am I using my hours and my days? They are fleeting. Am I redeeming the time? Living for God’s glory?
Another year I filled in an answer of sorts, writing:
And this isn’t about busyness but walking with people. Slow, Bend Low, and They Will Know (the Father’s love through me).
A few weeks after I scrawled those lines in my Bible, I recorded a simple memorial stone in the top right corner:
10/18 prepared me for A’s ❤️ attack
My husband’s massive heart attack at the age of 40 didn’t come as a surprise to my God, and in the years leading up to October 13, 2018, God had been teaching me through this verse to treasure each day as a gift from Him, to make the most of the moments He gave, knowing that they could be the last for me or for someone I love. When I brought my husband home from the hospital for a long season of recovery after a lifesaving operation, this verse defined our prayers, our heartbeat for each new day, for each day together is seen as a priceless gift.
I have read through the Psalms many times as a harbor for my soul after many stormy school years, and even though this spring played out far differently than any before, my summer reading plan — and the notes I leave on the pages of my Bible as breadcrumbs of God’s goodness — remain the same. I need the daily reminder of who my God is and that His mercies are fresh each day.
This spring as I’ve reread Psalm 90, I have made more notes in a newer journaling Bible, recording observations about this passage that I didn’t see before:
Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants! Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
Moses wrote these verses during the desert wandering, during a season that was likely filled with pestilence of some sort. Our prayer in the midst of a global pause echoes Moses’ cry: How long, O Lord, will we be restricted from the life we once lived? How long will this virus take lives? How long will injustice prevail? How long will violence characterize a people? How long, O Lord?
In just a few verses of this psalm, we see that the Bible isn’t a bottle of dried herbs left too long on the spice rack, but is the everbearing leaves and sprigs in my herb garden, the ones full of life and vigor. Each day as we awake to questions unanswered, God’s steadfast love is unchanging. He is still there, and we are invited to feed upon His Word, which is alive, flourishing, and full of hope for tomorrow.
Which “old” verses are bringing you “new” hope this week? We’d love to have you post your story below.