I’m working on a book about Psalms. It’s called Praying with the Psalmists and analyzes ten different types of Psalms in the Bible. Then the reader is challenged to use each of these types to write their own psalms and pray their own prayers. And I’m putting in memoir material as I go.
Several years ago, I wrote the example Thanksgiving psalm I was going to use and posted it in this blog. But now that I’m looking at it again, it gives away some events from my life that I wanted to put in the following chapter. So I need to write a new Thanksgiving psalm! Shouldn’t be hard, right? I mean, that’s the whole point of my book. Right?
The form of Thanksgiving Psalms is praise before and after a Deliverance Account. The Deliverance Account takes this form:
I was in trouble. I called. God intervened.
I want to do it about something recent, so I’m going to talk about when I left my former church in 2019, and how wonderfully God turned things out.
I left because my former church decided by an overwhelming majority to vote to include in their church constitution that it’s officially sinful to be LGBTQ. I strongly disagree with that policy and believe it’s falling into the sin of the Pharisees that Jesus condemned in Matthew 23 and makes a heavy load and places it on other people’s shoulders without lifting a finger to help them.
I was very sad to leave that church, however, because it was full of people I cared about and who cared about me.
And I would like them to read and use my book, so I will see if I can mention that I left without mentioning why.
I was also torn about my decision. Was I being judgmental of them for being too judgmental? But time has shown that it was a wonderful decision and I am tremendously happy in my new church. And now I feel like God didn’t just nudge me to where I needed to be — God dragged me there kicking and screaming. But I’m so happy to be there now!
So let’s put it in a psalm:
A Thanksgiving Psalm for a Church Home
I will thank you, Lord,
with all my heart.
You have answered my longings
and filled me with joy.
You have put new songs in my mouth
and given me new friends to sing them with.
I was sad and heartbroken,
destitute to leave my church family of years.
I had a point of disagreement
important to my convictions,
fundamentally about ministry,
and important to my family.
But how could I leave my home?
How could I take a different path
from the people who’d sustained me
through hard times and difficulties?
I called out to you, Lord.
I agonized and prayed.
I tried to find a different way.
I talked with the elders, the pastor, leaders.
But the more I talked
and the more I prayed,
the more I realized it was time for me
to look for a new church home.
I’d hoped you would lead me otherwise,
or intervene and eliminate the need.
But that’s not how things happened,
and it was time to visit another church,
one where I was a stranger
and didn’t know anyone,
with no one greeting me by name
or looking for me to catch up.
On my very first visit
an amazing coincidence gave me hints
I was in the right place.
Then someone told me I should join the choir,
starting back up at the end of the summer.
And in the choir,
I truly found my new family.
So many meaningful times in my life
had been singing to the Lord,
among choirs of fellow believers.
It was so good to be back!
Besides the choir,
more and more things showed
that you, Lord, brought me
to the right place for me.
There’d be a word in a sermon,
a song that hit the spot.
A small group during the pandemic
gave me new connections who cared.
Now every week, I lift my voice
in praise and wonder to the Lord.
You, Father, have your hand
always in my life.
You’ve brought me to where I belong
at this particular time,
and I praise you and thank you
for knowing what I need
so much better than I do.
Out of the time of pain
you, Lord, brought me where I needed to be.
And looking back, I can’t help but realize
that for anything less, I wouldn’t have gone.
Lord, I will truly praise you in the congregation,
in the assembly of the peoples.
I will sing your praises every week
along with my new family,
my brothers and sisters
all lifting our voices together in praise.