The Words that Hold it All Together

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It’s late August now in Michigan, and crickets croak in the afternoon heat. Their song is comforting and smooth, a predictable symphony that will usher in a Midwest autumn. By September the leaves will start to turn. Cinnamon and nutmeg, cardigans and leather boots. Burgundy, eggplant. The seasons won’t delay.

But, right now it’s still the in-between, with both sticky air and leaves on sidewalks. There is an energy in the air, an unquestionable tension. Summer lingers. Yet, Autumn is breathing softly on her neck, in cool mornings and whispers, hinting heavily at anticipation and change.

The first half of August slipped by sneakily, and suddenly I am confronted with the changing of seasons. I will miss summer; my heart burns for summer like the sun on my bare shoulders, because summer has always been a time of rest and adventure. Summer has always been a season of carefree curiosity and peaceful respite. But this year, for the first time, summer has been hustling and busy and tired. I find myself, washed up on the shores of August, feeling restless and worn instead of rejuvenated and refreshed. My soul has been striving too long. I am exhausted.

For a lot of different reasons, this year has left me drained. Discontent has been my underlying theme for many months, and for the most part, I have been too weak to fight it. Discontent is a virus that will suck you dry if you let it. I have, and my creative energy has suffered from it. My relationships have suffered from it. My joy has suffered from it the most.

Maybe you know the feeling?

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I came across Psalm 51 again the other day, and I read these verses that stopped me in my tracks:

 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

These are words I’ve read before, so I did not come to them expecting to find much new or noteworthy. And yet, they split my soul and spirit, pulled it straight away from skin. Those two little words, renew and restore, those are words I could drink from without end and still be satisfied. Those are words that satiate my soul and give me a peace that nothing else is able to offer. Words that sustain. Words that breathe hope and second chances. Good words, to usher in a new season.

I think the reason I cling so tightly to those two little words, renew and restore, is because they bounce and echo off my heart and reflect something I know down deep to be true. It’s because it’s late August and I’ve been running on empty. I’m worn down and in need of repair. To the weary body and anxious mind, those words are like rest and a sip of water.

I have come to know- slowly and over time, in many separate parts bound together by one unifying thread- the One who truly speaks these words of restoration and renewal. I hope that I, along with anyone else who would- I hope that we could learn together how to lay ourselves aside and give Him room to let the restoration happen. Room to begin the resetting of our souls for September.

The changing seasons are almost like a dance we get to let ourselves be caught in, a foreseeable movement with ceaseless progression and carefree steps. Dancers are entering and the backdrop shifting; so much is happening that we are not even aware of. There is twirling and spinning and there are jovial time changes. We’re allowed to get swept up in the dance without fretful self-consciousness or hurried anticipation. All that is really asked of us is to just step in, to take the hand of the great Dancer and have Him twirl us into safety. Discontent has no place in this great dance, nor does worry, nor hustle, nor striving.

As you step, let the autumn leaves fall where they may.

This morning, the fog is heavy and swelling with promise and light. It’s peaceful enough to break your heart and close enough you want to hold it; it settles over fields of soybeans and sweet corn. The sun ricochets off droplets, creating beams of light that you could almost bottle up and save for winter, when daylight is scarce and darkness seems to prevail. But, I remind myself it’s still late August, filled with hope and tension and changing perspectives. It’s late August, with the world on the cusp of change and familiar rebirth.

Autumn brings a different kind of renewal, one brought about by slowing down and fading out; a restoration grown by letting old things die so that new can come, in due time and after periods of waiting. Pure hearts and joy don’t happen overnight. Renewal and restoration will take a lifetime to achieve, but those two little words hold the whole world together. Those two little words keep it spinning, and keep us from falling apart, because they are a promise.

So, we dance.

It’s almost Autumn.

Photo by the lovely and talented Stephanie Lariviere



Have mercy on me, O God,
    according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
    blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
    and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,
    and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
    and done what is evil in your sight;
so you are right in your verdict
    and justified when you judge.
Surely I was sinful at birth,
    sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;
    you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;
    wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
    let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins
    and blot out all my iniquity.

10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways,
    so that sinners will turn back to you.
14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
    you who are God my Savior,
    and my tongue will sing of your righteousness.
15 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 My sacrifice, O God, is[b] a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

18 May it please you to prosper Zion,
    to build up the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous,
    in burnt offerings offered whole;
    then bulls will be offered on your altar.


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