One of the important dynamics of Cover-to-Cover Bible Survey is writing weekly reflection papers. Students read the appointed books of the Bible for that week. Then they interpret specific passages. A big goal is helping people bridge the ancient biblical world with our world. It is called the application of God’s truth to our lives. Almost all of our students will say that this exercise while challenging is where their greatest transformation takes place.
In this blog post I want to share a paper by Phyllis Hovey. Phyllis and her husband Brian are preparing for the mission field. Enjoy reading her insights into the book of Psalms. — Warren Coe, Executive Director
By Phyllis Hovey
Since April of 2008, I have had the privilege of having a journaling Bible. The margins are extra wide in order to take notes or make notations. April of 2008 marks the pursuit of missions in my life as a single. When I married Brian in August of 2012, he gifted me with a NEW journaling Bible as we celebrated one month of life together. He wanted a Bible for me that had my “new name” in it….:0)
I have a practice of when I desire to make a note, I write the date in my Bible and try and be as succinct as possible so as to record as MUCH as possible and as MANY insights as possible regarding certain passages. The date helps me recall the life season I was in when I encountered certain Scripture and gives context to the comment I have recorded beside the given Bible passage. It is a neat way of recounting lessons God has taught me afresh as I read the Word. Anyway, I share all that to give context as to how I remember certain things about the Psalms today. The Psalms have been go-to passages both in times of exultation and delight as well as during seasons of sorrow, doubting, and sincere wrestling with the Lord. Two Psalms that stand out particularly in my mind when considering meaningful passages are Psalm 139 and Psalm 112.
As a single on the field in India at an orphan home, I LONGED to be known and to know someone I was serving with WELL. I served over a period of three years for a total of about a year’s time. Due to visa restrictions, it wasn’t a consecutive chunk of time, but it was always to the same place and the same group of kiddos. I was often the only Caucasian that I would see during my months there. I was terribly lonely for someone who understood me and could relate to my worldview. I didn’t have access to skype or internet often, so it was very isolating.
During that time, I found great comfort in verses 1-5 of Psalm 139. They spoke of God KNOWING me and discerning my thoughts….He is acquainted with ALL my ways and He KNOWS my words. He hems me in, going before, behind and WITH me EVERY step of EVERY journey that I take (paraphrase). In the margin of my Bible, I have written, “…I long for marriage because I want to know someone and be known by someone for a LIFE-time…how WONDERFUL to see in Your Word that I ALREADY am! And Lord? You have ALREADY given me all I need to know You! I am overwhelmed and truly grateful!!….” I also have the reference John 10:14 written beside that note on a different date, which says, “I [Jesus] know my own and my own know me…” These verses and words from the Lord spoke of His intimate understanding of who I am, who I was, and who I am becoming, and they were water to my soul at that critical life juncture.
Moving forward in time to my days after marriage but right as we were entering the parenting scene, I recall the significance of Psalm 112. Brian and I were approximately 3 months pregnant with our first. Because my family had doctor had told me that I should never have children on the medicine that I took to regulate my bi-polar disorder, I was TERRIFIED when I found out we were expecting. I didn’t know what to expect or if the baby would even make it, so I didn’t get attached to the idea of becoming a mom. A breakthrough happened for me as Brian and I were headed down to the south of Chile for a little break. We had about 8 hours of car time and about 5 hours into it, I got tired of listening to music, so we started listening to radio programs and podcasts that Brian had on his ipod. He chose the initial couple, and then he asked if I’d like to choose one.
I scrolled through the titles of ones he’d downloaded and came across one entitled “Parenting as a Calling,” put out by Family Life Today. Dennis Rainey was the speaker that particular broadcast and was sharing about his life verse, Psalm 112:1-2. It says, “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in his commandments! His offspring will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.” His story behind his life verse and why he chose it challenged me deeply. I cried most of the way through the broadcast.
Dennis Rainey shared that he had a granddaughter who survived less than a week out of the womb. She was born without a fully developed brain, and simply couldn’t make it on her own. He talked about the anguish for himself as a parent to watch his daughter and son-in-law struggle through the grief and sorrow of it. He confided in his own personal emotional turmoil of feeling helpless. I resonated with many of the emotions he spoke of and was afraid that was what we were facing into. At the conclusion of his talk, he shared that he nicknamed his granddaughter “Mighty Molly” with this verse in mind. He said that he put her hand print in ink over this passage in his Bible before God took his granddaughter home.
Dead silence in the car followed the conclusion of the broadcast. Well, dead silence except for my sniffling and grabbing Kleenex. Finally, Brian bravely ventured, “Do you want to talk?” I caved and started listing all my fears and apprehensions, doubts and worries, heart wrenchings and unfathomables regarding the what ifs and the unknowns in our pregnancy. After I sobbed my way through my onslaught of emotion, Brian took a minute and then gently asked, “Do you want me to say something or would you like me to just listen?” I shot back in a desperate plea, “I’d like you to say something!” God gave my husband wisdom beyond his years, and he gently began….
“Phyllis, wait. God made you perfectly. GOD is making our baby PERFECTLY…(pause)…we didn’t decide or ‘make’ this baby. Our kid is GOD’S kid and HE is the One who is Sovereign and IN CHARGE. HE is the One deciding how our baby is made and it is our job to TRUST HIM AND ENTRUST our baby TO Him. Phyllis, we are doing and are going to do the best we can by our child with God’s help, but ultimately? Our baby is NOT OURS, he/she is GOD’S and GOD will work in them and THROUGH them to accomplish the purpose and plan HE has for their life!” (paraphrase)
Psalm 112:1-2 always reminds me of that moment and further down in verse 7, I see truth to back my husband’s words. It says, “He [the man who fears the Lord] is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Of course, Psalm 139:13-15 also support Brian’s conviction and I am grateful for those words as well!
Wow. I didn’t get as many Scripture references covered and shared as I had hoped, but I think due to lack of paper space, I better stop there. God is good. His Word is active and living and cuts to the quick. I am grateful for the Psalms and other passages that He has used to grow me and challenge me, refining my faith and deepening my walk with Him!