Psalm 71:1, 5- 6 (New Revised Standard Version) "In you, O Lord, I take refuge. … For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from my birth; it was you who took me from my mother’s womb. My praise is continually of you."
What’s the earliest time in your life you can remember? I will admit that, as I get older, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast most days. But, some of those earliest memories are ones that I will never forget.
I remember standing up and singing "Jesus Loves Me" in front of a group of people gathered in church when I was very young. I remember images of John F. Kennedy and Walter Cronkite from television. I remember the smell of my grandmother’s old-fashioned teacakes, and the sweet honeysuckle smell of summer captured in her hand lotion. And I remember the feeling of being loved and protected by my family.
Isn’t it amazing that our senses bring some of the strongest memories to mind? When I smell honeysuckle at the beginning of summer, I remember my grandmother and how much she loved me. When I hear "Jesus Loves Me" played or sung, I remember the earliest days of feeling loved by my family and God.
When I go to visit people who have degenerative diseases that steal their memories and leave them somehow groping for names and even the most recent events, I am amazed that they can sing "Jesus Loves Me," and they sing those words with me. Those words are ingrained in the fibers of their being, because they are words of the most basic Christian childlike belief that one can have.
The Psalmist reminds us to take refuge in the Lord because it is the Lord who sees us from the very beginning of our existence until we reach God’s eternal presence after this life is over. We can put our hope and trust in the Lord because God has loved us longer than anyone else, including our parents. God loved us even before we could respond to God’s love. John Wesley called that "Prevenient Grace" — the grace that comes before we have knowledge of anything.
God loves us even before we can respond to God, and when we express our love for God, it is because we are responding to the overwhelming love God already has shown to us. When we praise God continually regardless of our circumstances, we will continue to praise God from the fibers of our being, even when the gray cells of our brains begin to fail.
Are you praising God continually regardless of your circumstances?
Rev. Jan McCoy is the associate pastor of Covington First United Methodist Church in downtown Covington. She may be reached at email@example.com.