Three Minutes of Grace

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The 60(ish) year-old professor settled himself in front of the mic, opened his Bible, and announced, “Psalm 13, a psalm of David:”

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.  Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and  my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.  I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.

He closed the Bible, took a deep breath, looked over the congregation, and continued, “This Psalm is my life story. I have struggled with depression for the past twenty-five years. It comes and goes with greater and lesser intensity; at the moment I feel quite strong. But there have been many deep valleys along the way.”

“David’s opening phrase, ‘How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?’ whispers in my heart everyday in some form. But I know I need to travel with David to the end of the Psalm where he declares, ‘but I trust in your unfailing love...I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.’ In my good seasons, it’s not that hard for me to travel to the end of the Psalm. But during the valleys, I try to convince myself, ‘David is right, even though deep feelings inside me are trying to persuade me that it’s all a lie.’ This Psalm—and others like it —are my lifeline.”

The professor was taking his turn to share “This month’s Psalm,” a testimony time during our morning worship in which anyone could offer to read a Psalm (or an excerpt) and describe how the reading had significantly shaped his or her life. We just had two simple rules: 1) your total time at the mic must be less than three minutes, and 2) you must write out what you intend to say.

Imagine what it’s like for a community to hear 24 three-minute testimonies during a two year period. Those three-minute sharing times ripple out to change the way we are a community together.  All of us gathered for worship—from the 5 to the 95 year old—realize in a deeper way that we are all redeemed sinners, loved by Jesus, shaped by grace, struggling with our own “thorns in the flesh,” longing for wholeness. During those three minutes, our views on same-sex marriage, women in office, and all the other great polarizers are irrelevant. We all stand together at the cross with open hands.  

Can you imagine how powerful three minutes a month might be?

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Syd, thanks for this post of your 3 minutes of Grace.  This is a great idea and I will prayerfully consider how to implement something of this sort in the Britt CRC where I serve.  I appreciate you sharing this with the network. -Pastor Joel A. De Boer