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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

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The psalmist has been through the ringer. She has been thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire. She's seen it all. In other words, she has been "tested" and "tried as silver is tried" (v. 10). This image of metallurgy is meant to be intense. The image of the refiner's fire puts the authority squarely in God's expert hands. We might feel as though we are merely God's raw material, without agency, useful only for our basic input. But that's not the case with our God: "Truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer" (v. 19). Sometimes life in Christ can feel like an incubator, a comfortable place where "God listens" and "gives heed to the words of our prayers" (v. 19). But sometimes life is not an incubator, but a crucible. The psalmist reminds us that, even at these times, our listening God is still with us, still receiving our input.

Listening and refining god, help us to feel your presence when you are listening gently and when you are helping to shape us with forceful and loving hands. Help us to know your presence not only when we feel heeded, but also when we feel over-heated. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Sam Bardwell, '15
Actor, Minneapolis, Minn.

Psalm 66:8-20 (NRSV)

8 Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard,
9 who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.
10 For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried.
11 You brought us into the net; you laid burdens on our backs;
12 you let people ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a spacious place.
13 I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will pay you my vows,
14 those that my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer to you burnt offerings of fatlings, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats. (Selah)
16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me.
17 I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.
19 But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

This God Pause daily devotion is brought to you by the alumni of Luther Seminary.