ODJ: a passion learned

November 8, 2015 

READ: Psalm 119:25-32 

The very essence of your words is truth (v.160).

I didn’t fare too well when I started at a mission school in Ghana. Our two teachers gallantly juggled lesson plans for students spanning seven age groups. This academic effort took place in a two-room cinderblock structure with an aluminium roof that began to boil us by noon each day. Distractions waged war on my 7 year old attention span, and they were winning—handily.

Then Mrs. Titus arrived. Though she came to Ghana for just one year, her passion for the careful, creative use of words forever altered my life. I couldn’t bear to disappoint her. During the months I spent in Mrs. Titus’ classroom, her enthusiasm instilled in me a love for writing that framed my career path.

Long ago, someone must have instilled in another child a love for words, for it took passion and skill to write a psalm as intricate as the 119th. Consider what sort of context would have inspired such a heart-wrenching poem. Consider too the mentor or parent who guided this author in his youth.

The poetic nuances in Psalm 119 fade somewhat in translation, but the writer’s humanity and need for God remain unmistakably evident. He weaves joy with anguish, apprehension with resolution, praise with fear, all in a desperate candour that reveals a craving for God. “I lie in the dust; revive me by your word,” he wrote (v.25). “I weep with sorrow; encourage me by your word. Keep me from lying to myself; give me the privilege of knowing your instructions” (vv.28-29).

Psalms like this one didn’t come to be in a vacuum. There’s a story behind each one, and they involve the people—as well as the circumstances—that shaped their authors. May God use you to inspire someone today on their own spiritual pilgrimage!

—Tim Gustafson

365-day-plan: Acts 20:13-38

Read 1 Timothy 1:18–2:4 and see how Paul mentored his protégé. 
What people have guided you on your faith journey? Have you ever thanked them? What younger person has God placed in your life for you to inspire?