Psalm 139 has been meaningful to me as I’ve processed our transition to Burundi.  The following is a reflection on that psalm.  I’m thankful that God’s word is living and active and speaks to us even today.  If you haven’t read Psalm 139 lately, open your Bible and check it out before going further..

old boat sitting on sandy beach of Lake Tanganyika in sun

At least we don't have to get to the "far side of the sea" like this


A Theology of Place

My friend, Dr. Delia Nuesch-Olver says, “I believe in a theology of place:  where we hear what we hear shapes how we understand things.”  That seems to be true with Scripture for me as well.  When we read the Psalms in Mexico City after some difficulties there, we had a new/better understanding of David’s crying out and of the pain that is common to the human experience.

As I read Psalm 139 during my time in Burundi and in the days leading up to it, I was definitely affected by that context.  We have been struggling with our calling.  Spring Arbor has been such a lovely place to rest, to recuperate, to allow the kids to have a “home”.  At the same time, God’s repeats the ancient call to “go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” (Gen 12:1 NRSV)  Lately, he is showing us Burundi as that land.

Call and Promise

I take Psalm 139:9-10 as the call and the promise.  When we settle at the far side of the sea, the promise is that even there we will be led and protected by God’s hand.  The verses before and after this section all point to the faithfulness and trustworthiness of the one who is calling and promising.  What fear can there be in trusting a God who know me like this God does?  He knows me intimately- better than I know myself- and so I can trust that He is going to lead me where I will thrive and where He can continue transforming me into the likeness of Jesus.

There are still questions about the call and the transition ahead.  In those moments, I am praying verses 23 and 24.  Look at my heart and mind, O God, and burn away all thoughts and plans that are not of you.  Lead me, lead our family in your ways…and we will follow.