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Of Psalms, soup, and joyful associations

January 2, 2009
Here we all are...
Here we all are…
For all the condescension I’ve encountered regarding daily Bible reading plans (“Ew, I would just be reading for the sake of reading…” is typical), I have always found the different plans I’ve followed to reveal new features of God’s providence and stretch my own thinking.

Today, the plan I’ve selected for this year had me reading about arks in the Old and New Testaments. I read anew of the delivery of Noah and his family, and enough pairs of animals for full reproliferation, plus an additional member each of the clean animals for sacrifice, in an ark, sealed by God himself, with his promise of deliverance.

The Law would follow (this was not in today’s reading), sealed in the ark of the covenant, but would deliver no one, because no one would ever keep the whole Law. Except for Christ.

In today’s New Testament reading, Christ is baptized by John, “to fulfill all righteousness” (Mt. 3:15). He is baptized in water; he is immersed, buried, in a vault of water: another covenantal ark.

Psalm 2 was also part of today’s reading. As occurs in several Psalms, there is a dialogue between the First and Second Persons of the Trinity. “He said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You’” (v. 7). How wonderfully this and Matthew 3:17 echo one another, “and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.” And the plan’s reading from Proverbs includes the ultimate wisdom: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction” (v. 1:7).

I think of printing a bumper sticker: “Providence happens. Expect it.”

I have been reading Calvin’s Commentary Upon the Psalms, hoping for the time and discipline to read the 2,100 or 2,200 or so pages of this portion of Calvin’s Commentaries this year. Calvin believed the Psalms were the key to prayer, that they were the perfect and sufficient guide to proper prayer. His comments tend to enhance context and to demonstrate David’s faith in God and his full assurance that God would deliver on all his promises. Calvin persists in emphasizing that God’s promises pertain to the whole Church, and that each in his own way has the right to such assurance. David is our exemplar of assurance, as well as our slips into despondency, and gracious uplifting to recovery. God is always faithful to his faithful. The wicked may seem to have the upper hand, but they live in a state of pending ambush. I can scarcely put the Commentary down.

My husband and I decided on a New Year’s Day outing to the Mandolin café yesterday. We hadn’t been to the Mandolin since its acquisition by new owners; we reckoned the service could only improve. The place formerly featured a fairly ghastly ambience in its own cute way; mediocre food, and horrible service. The new owners have seen fit to leave the ambience untouched, but have introduced very good food and very good service. We went for coffee and decided to stay for soup. Though three dollars a cup, the black bean soup brought additional value as inspiration. Here was something delicious I could actually eat.

I decided to make some black bean soup. The Mandolin barista had told me the ingredients in theirs–it was basically a bacon-free version of all the other recipes I found online and on the black bean bag itself. I subbed cheddar cheese for cream, and shredded celery, an onion, and a package of sliced mushrooms through my food processor, and cooked everything with the black beans I had soaked overnight. I used water instead of beef broth, because there is no broth on the market that does not contain MSG, even if it says it doesn’t. They fess up to “hydrolyzed yeast extract,” which is essentially MSG. I got an early start this morning, and made a huge pot of soup. It is delicious. I have a new favorite food group.

My Cat’s happy new year to us was a round and whopping 500 on the glucometer: a new record. After giving him his insulin, I ran a curve, testing his blood every two hours. He produced a perfect curve, going down steadily for 10 hours, then up slightly at the 12-hour point. 500 is a very ugly number to see on a glucometer, but at least he continues to respond to insulin. For this, we thank our loving God for the abiding care he bestows on the great creature who is my Cat.

My only new year’s resolution is to keep on keeping on, God willing, and winnow even more distractions. I’m not attacking my sock drawer, my pen drawer, or my files of more years’ records than I need. I’d like to revisit my studies of Greek and Hebrew and advance in them, instead of retreating at the brink of utility.

I have better friends than I deserve, and getting together with them will likely remain a belayed aspiration. My energy is sufficient to my routine but little else. My mind bellows for more study time, and insulin resistance demands more cooking time. Both yield noble rewards that enable me to set my face on the things that really matter, that never make the news.

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