Reading the Bible When I Feel Like Kate Middleton
Two autumns ago, I was on my fourth pregnancy, but at the time, only had one daughter to show for it. I was so violently sick, for so long, that the hospital diagnosed me with hyperemesis gravidarum - that thing that Duchess Kate Middleton gets when she’s pregnant. Blog takeaway: The Duchess and I are practically the same person. So, it was autumn - the time of year I’m usually enjoying the reemergence of pumpkin spice flavors and wearing scarves and sweaters and tights - you know, clothes that make one feel skinny. But instead of having a warm, pumpkin-y fall, my body was sick and huge, my mind was tired and depressed, and I was carrying a delicate little life, feeling like all the odds were against me.
Who knows how many times I read Psalm 139 during that pregnancy? About the knitting and forming and hemming that God was busy doing. I didn’t claim those verses as the promise of a healthy baby. I had too much history for that. I simply read them to remind myself that God was in control. To remind myself that I could trust Him.
This morning, I realized that I haven’t read that particular Psalm since the horrible fall season of two years ago. I opened my favorite, chunky, worn-out Bible to one of the readings in the She Reads Truth plan I’m doing right now with some friends. Psalm 139. There it was - the spot where I’d previously written dates and names of my babies - the one who lived and the two who died before I ever saw their faces. Based on what I wrote in the margin, I could see that I hadn’t returned to that page since.
“2014 - pregnant.”
As I read through the psalm, I realized that I consume and categorize the Bible a lot like I do medicine. I haven’t taken Tums or read Psalm 139 in a long time. Why? Because Tums and Psalm 139 are for pregnant people. Duh!
Of course, I believe the Bible is God’s living and active Word and that different verses can illuminate the truth in new ways during new seasons and expose and comfort and guide and all the other things that 2 Timothy 3 promises us it does. I could ace a pop quiz on this, but I still find myself shocked and blown away, like someone who just realized they look nothing like the Duchess of Cambridge, any time the Holy Spirit breathes new life into words I’ve read a thousand times.
Looking at that page this morning, I was overcome with gratitude. But, I didn’t stop at verse 16, as I had in the past. I kept reading - this time, not prescriptively, as an anxious pregnant woman seeking comfort, but simply as God’s daughter, just wanting to see what He has to say next.
The last two verses of Psalm 139 were familiar to read, but felt brand new.
“Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting!”
The man who wrote that was David. You know, the murderer. The adulterer. The bad guy that God called a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22).
No one can look at David’s life and say that his own righteousness won him God’s favor. God loved David’s heart, because David’s heart was humble.
Not perfect. Not pure. Humble.
David didn’t say, “Hi God! Remember when I defeated Goliath? Remember all those pretty songs I wrote for you?”
Instead, He asked God for what sounds like an annual review. He asked God to expose his grievous ways and lead him in the way everlasting.
That’s pretty brave...being bold enough to ask God - perfect, holy God - to search your thoughts. Your weird, sinful, self-absorbed thoughts.
The Bible can be prescriptive and it is absolutely the place to turn when you are hugely pregnant or hugely hurting, but it’s not only prescriptive. It’s our best way to access the endless fountain of joy that comes from a relationship with a God. God’s Spirit through God’s Word can refresh and ignite tired Psalms you memorized in school and tired hearts that forgot He is good. Again.
I’m going to make a habit of returning to my trieds and trues. The verses I think I’ve squeezed every ounce of magic out of. Because, it is such a gift, when you think you know it all, for God to remind you that He is real, and enormous, and that He knows when you sit down and rise up and watch Netflix and eat all the ice cream and laugh and curse and cry. He knows and He loves me anyway.
Take that, Kate.