St. John’s University, Collegivelle, MN, 56231 2006
Thursday, July 2
By Lisa Shinkins
On a very hot day in August, my hero died. The hero that I went fishing with and just had a great time laughing with as well as attempting to play golf with when we would play together. Many of you were not privileged to know and love my Dad. He was the “ultimate caregiver” for all of his friends. But he was my Dad! I don’t remember everything about the night he died because it was so sudden – he had a heart attack at a wedding reception. But what I do remember is that after dancing with me, he told me “ I need to sit down, sister – I love you.” Then that was the last thing my Dad ever said. He had a major heart attack – August 4, 2001 – my life changed forever as well as my family’s life.
I cannot tell you much about the events in August and September of 2001, but I can tell you that I did a lot of crying out to God, like David did in Psalm 86. In verse 6 – 7, it says: “ Listen closely to my prayer, O God. Hear my urgent cry. I will call to you whenever trouble strikes, and you will help me.” Trouble had struck me then. I did not know which way to turn, but I called on God so many times that first year and the years that followed. Do you know that this Psalm is filled with fifteen requests to God by David? This Psalm is broken into four basic parts where David cries out to God, his Father – out of need, out of deliberate praise, to teach him God’s ways, and to ask for mercy and grace. That sounds like what we all do at different times in our lives.
For me, after Dad died I cried out to God out of need. He sent me family and fra-mily (people who are not family by blood but you consider them family) to help me through each stage of my grief cycle. I still to this day on some levels grieve the loss of my Dad – he never got to meet Kieran, my husband or my two sons – Killian and Kevin or to see where life has taken me over these last nineteen years.
But even through my Dad’s death, I cried out in deliberate praise. In verses 8 to 10 David is doing just that: “Where among the heathen gods is there a god like you? Where are their miracles? All the nations—and you made each one—will come and bow before you, Lord, and praise your great and holy name. For you are great and do great miracles. You alone are God.”
You see that summer he passed was a truly magnificent summer. Mom (Carol Hagler) and Dad spent a magical summer in Key Largo due to my Dad’s job in Miami. They were able to spend quality time together alone. And on the night my Dad died, he was dancing, laughing, and having a great time with his family. I have to be honest here, it took a very long time to get to this praise.
I prayed and prayed and God led me where I am now. Verses 11 to 13 say: “Tell me where you want me to go and I will go there. May every fiber of my being unite in reverence to your name. With all my heart I will praise you. I will give glory to your name forever, for you love me so much! You are constantly so kind! You have rescued me from deepest hell.” He led me out of the depths of despair to be able to praise Him to then become who I am today through learning from my despair and my praise. God is leading us through where He wants us to go, so that we may praise Him more.
As an ex-educator of fifteen years, I know in those teachable moments there is so much growth that can come from learning something new each day. How wonderful it is to stop and not take for granted what God is teaching us through this time? What is he teaching you through this time?
I believe during this time of uncertainty and the constant change that we are all calling out to God and asking Him where He wants us to go; so that we may praise Him. During difficult times in our lives, sometimes it seems hard to do just that. But my encouragement through this Psalm is that David did just that. He cried out for God’s mercy and grace in verses 14 to 17: “O God, proud and insolent men defy me; violent, godless men are trying to kill me. But you are merciful and gentle, Lord, slow in getting angry, full of constant loving-kindness and of truth; so look down in pity and grant strength to your servant and save me. Send me a sign of your favor. When those who hate me see it, they will lose face because you help and comfort me.” We have someone who is ALWAYS there that we can call on in our time of need.
As I read this Psalm, it made me think of one of my favorite verses, Psalm 18:6: “I cried out to the Lord and He heard me!” God hears us when we cry out in need, in anger, and in praise. He never gets tired of us coming before Him in prayer to cry out to Him – EVER!
Last summer, I heard this Vacation Bible School Song: “Every Good Thing” from the ROAR vbs and I loved it. As I read this Psalm, this song came into my mind and I wanted to share it with you. I hope that it will give you some encouragement to get through the coming days.