I have recently taken up the practice of reading through the Psalms each month. The pace is about 5 each day, but sometimes I miss a day and so I have to catch up and read 20. My goal has been to read through the whole book each month during 2016, sometimes I've done that; sometimes I haven't. But on the 1st of each month, I move the ribbon in my Bible from wherever I've been able to read, back to the beginning and start over again.
As I've been reading through the Psalms, different things have stuck out to me in each Psalm. Sometimes, I see what God is doing: how He is saving the people of Israel; how He has stilled the tumbling earth; how He leads the psalmist beside the still waters. Other times I see what the psalmist is doing: how he is crying out from the deep; how he feels distant from God; how his thirst has overwhelmed him. Some of the Psalms have a conclusion to them, God shows up. Other times He doesn't and it feels like a cliffhanger. Often even when God doesn't show up in the Psalm, the psalmist still ends his song with praise for God, with the sure hope that God will redeem him, rescue him, be with him. This is usually based on what God has done before in the life of the psalmist, or in the life of Israel. Throughout the Psalms, there doesn't always seem to be a pattern to what God or the psalmist does, but the psalmist always relies on God through the turbulence and calm of life.
And in the Psalms, much like the Box Canyon video above, I've found this alternate world. One that causes me to slow down, to notice things I normally wouldn't notice in life. I find it both very narrowing and very expansive. Narrowing in that the Psalms remove a lot of the decor of life — those things that we have hung on our walls and placed in just the right place to make our lives seem more full than what they are. The Psalms strip those away, so that we are not distracted by them and our focus becomes just between us and God. And yet, at the same time, the Psalms are very expansive. They cause our understanding of who God is to increase. Of His care and concern for us through the little details of life and through the huge things that only He can carry for us. They remind us of our smallness, our finiteness, our brokenness, our inability to summon a language and speak to a holy and just God. But they also remind us of God's greatness, His steadfast love, His patience, His righteousness. The Psalms invite us to be real about who we are and at the same time displaying fully who God is. They're not uniform. They're not smooth. But they are beautiful.
The Psalms have brought forth new light in my life and as it shines over the different parts, I'll be sharing those here. I'd love for you to join me. I'm using a few guides along the way, I hope they can be helpful for you too. Come explore this strange land with me.