The 90th Psalm and a 90th Birthday

Joyce Fernlund, my grandmother, celebrates her 90th birthday today. Here is a reflection on her life and her God from portions of the 90th Psalm.

“Lord, you have been our dwelling place in all generations.” Psalm 90:1

Grandma Joyce believes in the God of the Bible, having expressed saving faith in Jesus Christ. Thus the Lord has been her home, a safe and secure refuge throughout her days. The Lord is faithful to His people in every generation. Moses, the author of this psalm, knew the stories well. He could recount the ways of how God had been a refuge for Abraham and his descendants as they wandered about in tents, never receiving their land. Often without any permanent home, these believers found their true dwelling place was God Himself.

That same God – the Lord of Abraham and Moses – is still a home for His faithful people, including Grandma Joyce, her generation and the generations that have followed. “From everlasting to everlasting you are God” (Psalm 90:2). Christians find a home in the Lord Jesus, whose presence is a shelter even as life changes. Jesus promised, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23).

Grandma has known many dwelling places through her years. From the childhood farm in Hammond, WI, to the family home in St. Paul, she has seen that no earthly habitation is forever. In recent years she moved to an apartment from her home of decades. But while her earthly homes have changed, her spiritual home has always been the same. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), and He has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). Her home is Jesus. Her home is forever.

“The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.” Psalm 90:10

Grandma’s years have exceeded the seventy or eighty. But with a lengthened span comes more experience of the toil and trouble of life. She knows the realities of life: life is hard and life is fleeting. She has looked to the Lord for sustaining grace through it all. She has learned the value of making each day count. Knowing life is short and fragile, we need to make the most of each day and live it wisely. “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14

If there is one quality of Grandma’s faith that continues to shine the brightest, it is her joy in the Lord. After ninety years, she still wakes up each morning and experiences God’s steadfast love to her. He is her source of lasting joy and gladness. Years fly by, circumstances change, loved ones pass, difficulties persist, but God’s love for His people in Christ is always faithful. Because His “steadfast love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3), we have a reason to rejoice and be glad every day of our lives. We are satisfied by the love of God in Christ to us. And that guarantees our joy, not only for all our days here, but for ever: “In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11).

May God continue to bless Grandma Joyce as she enters her tenth decade of life. And may we all look by faith to the Lord as our eternal home and joy.

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