I have a hard time remembering things. The part of my brain that’s supposed to squirrel things away for reference later got overused, I suspect, by all the memorization I did in high school and college.
I wish this wasn’t the case because there are many things I’d now love to hold on to in my mind. Umpteen thoughts, paradigms, quotes, and perspectives to ponder. So I’m always trying new techniques for retention.
In rereading Eugene Peterson’s classic “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction” about the Songs of Ascents, I’ve decided to make a visual cheatsheet for each of the 15 songs.
Psalms 120 through 134 were likely sung by the Hebrew pilgrims as they traveled up to Jerusalem, the highest city in Palestine, to attend annual festivals. The ascent is both literal and a metaphor for the pilgrimage of a life toward God.
“Come, let us climb the mountain of the LORD, go to the house of the God of Jacob. He’ll show us the way he works so we can live the way we’re made.”Isaiah 2:3
The first psalm starts us out with dissatisfaction. What is it that motivates someone to step off a familiar, well-traveled path and set out in a different direction? According to Peterson, “A person has to get fed up with the ways of the world before he, before she, acquires an appetite for the world of grace.”
I’m in trouble. I cry to God,
desperate for an answer:
“Deliver me from the liars, God!
They smile so sweetly but lie through their teeth.”
Do you know what’s next, can you see what’s coming,
all you barefaced liars?
Pointed arrows and burning coals
will be your reward.
I’m doomed to live in Meshech,
cursed with a home in Kedar.
My whole life lived camping
among quarreling neighbors.
I’m all for peace, but the minute
I tell them so, they go to war!