A Psalm While Packing Books

While in seminary, prior to teaching his course in the Old Testament, Dr. John Oswalt would read a psalm from Joseph Bayly’s Psalms of My Life. Since I heard “A Psalm While Packing Books,” I have thought about the nugget of truth it contains many times. As one who has moved and packed many books, I understand the physical reality of this. As a pastor who engages in the depths of pastoral ministry with people, and as one who increasingly knows my own heart, I also understand the spiritual reality of this.

I have prayed this prayer or one similar to it many times, and I am sure I will many more times. Thankfully, God does not tire of my humble request. It reveals my absolute and utter dependency on Him, which is my cry of faith. And God delights to act on behalf of those who wait upon Him in faith (Isa. 64:4).

A Psalm While Packing Books

This cardboard box
see it says
Bursting limit
200 lbs. per square inch.
The box maker knew
how much strain
the box would take
what weight
would crush it.
You are wiser
than the box maker
Maker of my spirit
my mind
my body.
Does the box know
when pressure increases close to
the limit?
it knows nothing.
But I know
when my breaking point
is near.
And so I pray
Maker of my soul
Determiner of the pressure
upon me
Stop it
Lest I be broken
or else
change the pressure rating
of this fragile container
of Your grace
so that I may bear more.

 Joseph Bayly, Psalms of My Life (Elgin, Illinois: LifeJourney Books, 1987).

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