Monday: Psalm 81, 83, Joshua 1, Luke 18.31-19.10

from James Flaherty

God’s commissioning of Joshua teleports me to the afternoon in 2013 when Mark Booker broke down Psalm 1 for me. I must have read Psalm 1 before then, but I don’t think it had ever risen from the bog of over-familiarity and boredom that passed for scriptural knowledge in my life at the time. 

The righteous man, Mark recited, “is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season and its leaf does not wither.” His delight is the law of the lord and he meditates on it day and night. 

In 2013, I hated my job and was terribly stressed by it, as would be the case off and on for the next seven years and remains the case today. But when Mark shared Psalm 1, a sharp and very clear image of a faithful tree came into my mind and it carried a quality of simple worship and testimony and I was powerfully consoled by it. Since then I’ve sought the consolation of trees in my prayers as I walk around Boston. A tree doesn’t decide where or how to grow. It simply grows and makes the best of it and appeals for life high and low with a splendid, mighty, patient desperation. It’s an especially wonderful thing to watch trees weather the winter months—gray, dry, stoic, and steadfast, in spite of brittle assaults and blustering weight. 

I think we’re called to live like that. I think God is calling Joshua to obey like that. The line from Joshua 1 that prompted the flashback is: “The Book of the Law shall not leave your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it.” 

I pray we would look for life in scripture, and that’d we’d expect and crave it there.    

I live in Jamaica Plain with my family.