“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?... If my father and mother forsake me, the LORD will take me up.” (Psalm 27:1, 10)
I can’t hear this psalm without thinking of my maternal grandfather. It’s a long story but he was, in effect, orphaned twice: deprived of his biological parents, and eventually rejected by his adoptive grandmother. He bounced around the county’s available foster homes, where he was in effect an unpaid farm laborer, always running away to his grandmother and always being handed back to the county. Eventually he landed in the home of a devout German Catholic farm family, who saw him through high school and eventually off to the Army Air Corps.
When he was shot down for the second (and last) time, he was taken prisoner. His foster mother, dying of cancer, insisted to my grandmother, “he’ll turn up.”
I was blessed to know both those grandparents into my own young adulthood, but I was not wise enough to ask them directly about all of that. Maybe they wouldn’t have been willing or able to talk about it. But it reminds me of all the ways God reaches us when the normal and natural means of our survival and flourishing dry up. I can’t imagine how my grandfather, forsaken and imprisoned, must have felt through all of this. So I’m all the more grateful for the ways God took him up.
This psalm offers us an opportunity to find and name some hidden places in our lives. Where are we fearful? Where do we feel the need of light and salvation? Where have we felt forsaken and abandoned? How has God has taken us up? It may be a friend, a community, even a task or purpose that connects us again to the power of our very existence. Spend some time today looking for those experiences, and how you can help others be taken up as well.
Pray: For foster and adoptive parents, for people experiencing anxiety or depression, for the lonely and alone, for all who seek to preserve and create families for children who need them, for an increase of assurance and perseverance in our own lives.
Our Father, who art in heaven...
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Pastor Ben Dueholm
God's Work. Our hands.