We were building our dream home in the country and one spring afternoon I loaded our baby and toddler in the car to check on the construction process. Because the ground in this area was primarily clay, workers had laid wide wood planks between the driveway and building site to safely haul tools and equipment into the structure. But I’d parked off to the side. The clay side. The only way I’d get to the house was to set out through the clay. “You do what you gotta’ do” is a maxim for any situation and one I employed that day.
With a squirmy baby tucked under one arm and a resisting toddler in death grip in the other, I took a first step out of the car. Please understand that I grew up in the country, mowed a lawn which, in my imagination, seemed a full ten acres; helped my parents with a large garden which meant plowing and cultivating the ground before stretching 40’ cords for the seed rows. Along each line we scooped out a shallow valley for the seeds, then gently placed corn and pea kernels, miniscule carrot seeds, and occasionally the tiny pepper, cabbage, tomato plants my mother had carefully grown in a greenhouse in the preceding cold spring weeks. Tedious work that demanded patience.
All that garden talk to illustrate that I wasn’t an urban neophyte stepping into the clay. My boots, previously thought to solidly fit, soon proved to be useless fashion statements, sinking like stones into the miry mess while my feet threatened to slide out. I feared I would soon slog bare footed toward the house with howling children.
I was reminded of that Michigan scene while reading David’s words in Psalm 40:
I waited patiently for the Lord;
he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
and gave me a firm place to stand.
It doesn’t take much imagination to apply David’s words to this past year. How often did you feel as though you were walking through slimy pits, in miry bogs as the months crawled by? One definition of mire is “a situation or state of difficulty, distress, or embarrassment from which it is hard to extricate oneself” (emphasis my own).
Some believe the first half of Psalm 40 was written after David had finally escaped enemies seeking to prevent him from taking his position as king. Those he thought friends become enemies. Caves, not palaces, become his hiding place. Misunderstanding, family division, God’s seeming absence. David is a fugitive in the miry clay.
What role, position, goal was stolen from you by Covid? Some grieve over death of loved ones, but even more of us lost jobs, suffered shattered dreams, felt the downward pull into the slimy clay of loneliness or depression.
David said he waited—in Hebrew: “In waiting, I waited.” This indicates not moments of waiting, but long times when God seemed silent. It’s good to slowly read psalms like this one. Make that s l o w l y read! I believe there were moments, maybe even days, of waiting before David could confidently say that God placed his feet on a rock, gave him a new song. How long was it before he finally said, “I desire to do your will, my God”?
We now have the blessing of a vaccine but experts warn that we’ll be wearing masks for a long time. Waiting isn’t over and we cry out with David, “…come quickly, Lord, to help me.”