First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 29

Honor the Lord, you heavenly beings; honor the Lord for his glory and strength.
(Psalm 29:1, NLT)

Many of the Psalms speak to the broad spectrum of creation, prompting everything to give honor to the Lord. Mountains. Oceans. Sea creatures. Trees. Even heavenly beings.

Mighty ones.
Sons of God.
Angels in heaven.
Heavenly hosts.
Angel armies.

They too, honor the Lord.

I followed him from a distance.  I didn’t want him to see me.  He headed out into the wilderness again.  And his closest friends warned everyone he did not want to be disturbed.

“He’s praying,” they said.  “Let him be.”

But I wanted to see.  Did he really spend all night in prayer, while the rest of us slept?

I won’t bother him, I told myself.  I just want to see how he prays.

He ducked under a low hanging branch as he worked his way through a copse of trees.  I waited until he disappeared around some tall boulders dotting the hillside before I followed.

What did he pray about when he was alone?  How did he pray?  I wanted to learn.

I peeked around the boulders.  He climbed on up the hillside.

His friends had asked him how to pray.  They taught others what he taught them.  But it seemed too simple.  Surely there was more to it.

He stopped under a great elm and sat down.  There was nothing but open space between where I stood behind the boulder and the tree.  I couldn’t get any closer without being seen.  I glanced at the western horizon.  The sun was not far from setting.  It would be hard to see when darkness came, if not for the full moon rising in the east.   One of the reasons I picked this night to follow.

He sat for a long while in the rosy glow of the sunset.  I couldn’t tell if he was praying or not.  Then he got up and paced.  I watched him walk back and forth in front of the tree.  He had his head down and his hands behind his back, as if he were deep in thought.  He sat back down.  He placed his head in his hands.  I wondered what he was thinking.  The grey light of dusk faded to dark.  But the moon rose full and bright in the east, creating silver light and irregular night shadows.

He got up and paced again.  This time, he gestured with his hands, as if talking to someone.   It looked like a heated argument.  But with whom was he arguing?  Eventually he threw his hands up in the air.  He stood there for a long while like that, head back, arms up.   Surely he was praying now.   I had seen holy men praying in the temple like that.  I wished I could hear what he said.  He dropped his arms and leaned back against the tree trunk.   The moon climbed higher in the night sky and the odd shadows shortened on the earth.  My eyelids grew heavy.   I quietly lowered myself to a sitting positing and leaned against the boulder.  I rubbed my eyes and checked to see what he was doing.  He hadn’t moved.

I must have dozed off.  The moon was well past its zenith and the moon shadows were growing longer again.  Only in the other direction.  I peeked around the boulder.  Had something woke me up?  He was still there, next to the tree.  But now he stood, staring off into the darkness, as if waiting for someone.

A breeze picked up.  He was downwind.  I hoped he wouldn’t here me rustling around as I stood up.  Suddenly, I saw who he waited for.  Three figures approached in the moonlight.  They seemed enormous.  Shining white in the night.  Their light seemed to come with them, illuminating the world all around, driving back the shadows.  Would they see me?  I shrunk back behind the rock, but couldn’t help but watch.   Who were they?  I couldn’t make out much detail from my distant vantage point but I could see they wore flowing robes and walked with a regal step.   As they drew closer to him, they didn’t seem quite as big as I originally thought.  They were about the same height as him.  I thought he would bow before them.  Instead, they dropped to their knees before him.   He touched their heads, one by one.  When they rose, he threw back his head in a laugh, but I could not hear it because the breeze had picked up to a brisk wind.  I stared, surprised as he threw his arms around first one, then the other two in a warm embrace, like friends long separated.

The wind rose to gale force.  I pressed myself against the rock, no longer concerned about being seen or heard and trying to keep from being pushed out of my hiding place.

They were talking, undisturbed by the wind that threatened to blow me about.  Why, their robes and his clothes weren’t even fluttering.  And I couldn’t even hear what they spoke about because of the sound of the rushing wind.   As they talked, the world seemed to grow brighter and brighter.  Brighter than at noonday on the brightest day.   I felt as if I were looking at the world for the first time.  The real world.  Alive.  Bright.  Quivering and humming with life.  I wanted to look around and examine everything in this new light.  But  my eyes were fixed on them and their conversation.  I watched, fascinated.  And frustrated that I could not hear.  What exciting things they must be talking about.  All four of them were animated in what they said.  Hands moving.  Heads nodding.  A few times he threw his head back and laughed again.  I would never forget how it looked.  Unabashed.  Free.  Filled with joy.  A beautiful sight.

The conversation took a serious turn.  Hands dropped to their sides, or were clasped in front of them.  Their voices must have lowered because they leaned in toward one another.  In the bright light, I could see his face clearly.  His eyebrows knitted together under eyes filled with concern.  His lips pressed together in a thin line.  He nodded at whatever they were saying.  Something else was said and he shook his head.  He shook it again.  Then sighed.  A heavy, deep breathed sigh.  If the wind wasn’t howling so, I felt as if I would have heard it.   His shoulders drooped a little.  What had they told him?  I didn’t like this part of the conversation, even if I couldn’t hear it.  I pressed my hands against the cold rock, keeping myself from running out and telling them to stop saying whatever it was they were saying.

I wanted to see him laugh again.

Instead he nodded.  Then he extended his arms, gripping the forearms of one of them, then another.  The third, when they clasped arms, leaned in.  He leaned in also, listening.  Their heads pressed together for a moment.  He straightened, and nodded.

And they were gone.  I didn’t see them leave.  One moment they were there and then they weren’t.  The wind as well.  One moment it blew like a gale, the next moment it was dead calm.  He stood there for a while, as the light they left behind, faded like the close of day, leaving moon beams and darkness behind.  A thin glow in the east promised the light of a new day.

He turned and looked my way.  My heart thudded against my chest as I ducked behind the boulder.  Had he seen me?  Did he know I was there?  I heard footsteps crunching on dry leaves.  He was coming my way.  I scurried down the hillside toward the copse of trees, hoping I could get back before he caught me.

Prayer  Heavenly Father, I know Jesus has been elevated to the place of highest honor and given the name above all other names.  Even the heavenly hosts bow down to him.  May I, also, always give him the honor and glory due him.

Grace & Peace


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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