“He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
You have multiplied, O LORD my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us;
none can compare with you!
I will proclaim and tell of them,
yet they are more than can be told” (Psalm 40:3-5).
Yesterday I wrote about Shimei in 2 Samuel and Marcus’ account of fleeing Monrovia, about how the saddest thing about genocide is how common it’s become. Here’s where Ian Fleming paints a false picture of the world: Wicked people aren’t novel Bond villains. Sin has been stale for centuries now. They gobble up the same things (power, sex, and money) by the same means (exploitation, neglect, and violence) over and over again. That’s why two young men being killed for stepping out of line doesn’t surprise us.
I’ll tell you what did surprise me: The second half of Marcus’ book, sitting in Starbucks yesterday afternoon. Now, I’ve read Miroslav Volf’s search for reconciliation after ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia. I visited the Holocaust Museum a couple weeks ago, and heard the voices of hope in the video at the end. I knew the subtitle of Marcus’ book: “A Story of Letting Vengeance Go.” Yet, the way it unfolded still took me by surprise. It moved me and encouraged me, humbled me.
Bombed out cities look more and more similar, the more violence they suffer. Every painting, on the other hand, is unique. Every cathedral differs. Every poem, every lyric is something new.
That’s the difference between sin and redemption. Sin is stale; redemption is creative. Destruction is tragically repetitive; each act of God’s new creation is fresh, abiding, and irreplaceable.
I’m reminded that we need to take the time to listen to these “new songs,” these new “songs of praise” to the God who has “multiplied his wondrous deeds and thoughts toward us.” Surely, “they are more than can be told,” but as we tell and attend to these stories, “Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
“For us to get past the atrocities and the dark memories, we must first be able to forgive those who deeply hurt us. We must forgive even those whom we know will hurt us again if they get the chance. God was teaching me this improbable, insurmountable reality through the broken, hurting young men that I met” (Marcus Doe, Catching Ricebirds, p.247).
I recommend Marcus’ book, Catching Ricebirds, a story that taught me about God and the present world. Amazon has it on Kindle and in paperback here (this is an unsolicited recommendation).