you’ll hear me at it again.
I lay out the pieces of my life
on your altar
and watch for fire to descend.
Psalm 5:3 (MSG)
I will lay out the pieces of my life.
It’s odd how willing I am to do this when I am desperate; when I’m in need. I rush to this end, giving him all the pieces, all the broken mess. I need him and I’m okay with it. But when times are better, or at least easier; when I don’t have pressing needs that feel overwhelming…I’m less inclined. I like to hold some pieces back. I prefer to pick and choose. “You can have this piece and this piece. Perhaps you can fix those today.” As if God will fix anything before he has everything.
But this says every morning. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life. Every morning I meet with God. Every morning I give it all back…again. That’s the invitation. That’s what it looks like to live in Life and wholeness.
And I like the imagery given by The Message. Most other translations say something about waiting with expectancy or expectantly. But The Message says, “and watch for fire to descend.” It’s essentially saying the same thing except that it brings some context to mind for those who are familiar with God’s interactions with people throughout the Old Testament. It can bring to mind times when sacrifices have been laid on the altar and a waiting for God to come has been practiced.
It brings to mind Genesis 15, where God stoops down and makes a covenant with Abraham—then just Abram. Abram cut the sacrifice to pieces, laid it out, and waited for God to come. And God did come, and he made an agreement—started a relationship—not just with Abram, but with his descendants; and ultimately with all of us.
It brings to mind 1 Kings 18, where Elijah lays out the sacrifice on the altar, and drenches it with water, and then waits. He invites God to show that he is God and he just waits. And it says that the fire of the Lord fell on the sacrifice and consumed it all. And the people cried out, “The Lord—he is God!”
So the imagery of the Psalm is to lay out the pieces of our lives; they are a sacrifice. And to do so with expectancy; God will come. And the words that are key—at least for me today—are the words every morning. The pieces of our lives have a bad habit of crawling off the altar. And so again this morning—every morning—I lay out the pieces of my life. And I wait. Not for the miraculous or spectacular, but just for the coming, the descending of God.
On second thought, the fact that God will come—that he will descend to the pieces of my life—is pretty miraculous and spectacular.