It’s a testament to how deeply ingrained the Harry Potter universe has welded into my adult life that I always seem to find a relation to it for most situations. I just got around to reading a little about Ilvermorny, the American wizarding school in the Potterverse, because my life revolves around youtube nursery rhymes these days and things like that tend to become very Last Week by the time I see them.
Maybe it was because I just read about the Ilvermorny school and did the sorting quiz (Thunderbird, if you’re interested) but while I was reading Psalm 107 in my Bible study the other day, I noticed it was arranged in a quad-cycle, four stories ending with an overall summary. And, in the way that the Hogwarts/Ilvermorny houses are set up to describe most anyone who comes to them, I would imagine many people could see themselves in one (or more) of the stories in this psalm.
The first story is about those – “some” – who are wanderers. They are in the desert, hungry, thirsty, looking for a home. Their spirits are withering, their souls are fainting. They are seeking spiritual enlightenment and peace for their souls. They chase mysterious writings like scant trails in the sand, and mystical visions like mirages on the horizon. They never lead to water, or rest, or the deep, soul-satisfying peace they crave. Finally, they cry out to Yahweh, and he hears them, and rescues them from their distress. He leads them on the path out of the desert, the path He created before the world was made, and to the City. Not just a village, but a real City, with the well of Living Water, that whoever drinks it will never be thirsty again. Their thirsts are quenched, and the hungry find all kinds of good food.
The second story is about “others” who are in prison, in chains, in gloom and despair. Their spirits are broken from hard labor. Whether from ritual, regulation, or man-made religion, they have forged more chains around their ankles than Marley carried – by trying to create their own standards of behavior, or by submitting to chains others have locked around them. Instead of freedom, they are captives. Instead of joy, they are depressed. They invest their entire beings into the hard labor of living under these chains, and still they fail. And when they stumble, no one will bend to help them up, for fear of stumbling also. Their spirits have been broken by the hard labor of living in bondage. Finally, they cry out to Yahweh, and He hears them, and rescues them from their distress. His yoke is easy, His burden is light. All the work necessary was finished before they were even born. He brings them out of darkness and gloom, and breaks their chains apart. He breaks down the bronze slavers gates, and he cuts through the iron prison bars. They are free.
The third story is about the ones who are longing for death. Lifetimes of overindulgence lead to self-destruction. They’ve done it all, tried it all, been it all. Seeking fulfillment, they only found stomachache and heartache. The emptiness inside them was never filled, and now it’s all they can see. Even the idea of eating is unappealing, since it might make them live a little longer in this misery. They are staring into the Abyss, and they are ready to get it all over with, and jump. But, oh thank God, they cry out to Yahweh, and He hears them, and he saves them from their distress. His Words are filled with life and hope, and He sends his Word to them and heals their aching souls, and saves them from the Abyss.
The fourth story is about others who have everything they ever wanted. Their dreams are fulfilled, their goals met, their ambitions reached. They look out over everything they own and have accomplished and feel on top of the world. They are the masters of their souls, the captains of their fate. And then the world turns against them. Everything that gave them security suddenly fails, or attacks them. They can’t stand on their own two feet. Their wisdom and talents and skills no longer solve all their problems. Even their bodies betray them. They lose their solid ground. Then, they cry out to Yahweh, and He hears them, and brings them out of their distress. He calms the storm and stops the waves pounding against them. He gives them real safety and security, and guides them to the harbor they longed for.
Do you see yourself in one, or several, of these stories?
Are you seeking? Are you trying to understand the mysteries of the universe? Do you sense the presence of a Higher Being but you aren’t sure how to relate to Him? Have you tried mystics and gurus and books claiming to unlock the ‘secret’ messages of life, and still find yourself wandering aimlessly in the desert? Cry out to Yahweh, and He will put you on the path of Truth.
Are you in prison? Have religion and tradition broken your spirit? Do you try so hard to be a good person, and yet at the end of the day, are left wondering why it still feels like you haven’t done enough? Is your spirit crying for freedom from the hard labor of being ‘good enough’? Cry out to Yahweh, and he will break your chains and deliver you from gloom.
Are you at the end of your rope? Do you have regret – deep, grieving regret? Do the things you once enjoyed no longer give you pleasure, even simply eating? Does it feel like there’s nowhere to go from here, and oblivion would be better than seeing another sunrise? Cry out to Yahweh, and He WILL heal you and rescue you from the Abyss.
Are you at a loss? Has the solid ground beneath you become a pitching ship, a hostile sea beating you down? Have your investments in property or in people turned to dust in your hands? Are you suddenly faced with your own mortality and realize you’re unprepared? Cry out to Yahweh, and He will bring you security that can never be lost or stolen.
“Let them give thanks to Yahweh,
for His faithful love
and his wonderful works
for the human race”