A Psalm While Packing Books

Greg Strand – June 20, 2013 2 Comments

While in seminary, prior to teaching his course in the Old Testament, Dr. John Oswalt would read a psalm from Joseph Bayly’s Psalms of My Life. Since I heard “A Psalm While Packing Books,” I have thought about the nugget of truth it contains many times. As one who has moved and packed many books, I understand the physical reality of this. As a pastor who engages in the depths of pastoral ministry with people, and as one who increasingly knows my own heart, I also understand the spiritual reality of this.

I have prayed this prayer or one similar to it many times, and I am sure I will many more times. Thankfully, God does not tire of my humble request. It reveals my absolute and utter dependency on Him, which is my cry of faith. And God delights to act on behalf of those who wait upon Him in faith (Isa. 64:4).

A Psalm While Packing Books

This cardboard box
see it says
Bursting limit
200 lbs. per square inch.
The box maker knew
how much strain
the box would take
what weight
would crush it.
You are wiser
than the box maker
Maker of my spirit
my mind
my body.
Does the box know
when pressure increases close to
the limit?
it knows nothing.
But I know
when my breaking point
is near.
And so I pray
Maker of my soul
Determiner of the pressure
upon me
Stop it
Lest I be broken
or else
change the pressure rating
of this fragile container
of Your grace
so that I may bear more.

 Joseph Bayly, Psalms of My Life (Elgin, Illinois: LifeJourney Books, 1987).

Greg Strand


Affectionately called “Walking Bible” by his youngest daughter, Greg Strand has a ministry history that goes back to 1982. Since that time, he has served in local church ministry in a variety of ministry capacities: youth pastor, associate pastor of adult ministries and senior pastor. He is currently the EFCA's Executive Director of Theology and Credentialing. Greg reads voraciously and never stops learning — a passion reflected in the overflowing bookshelves that spill from his library to multiple offices. And he could tell you about each of those books! His hunger for learning pales in contrast to his great love for God and for teaching the Word of God.

2 responses to A Psalm While Packing Books

  1. Donald McLean June 20, 2013 at 5:38 pm

    That’s really touching. I needed that. Thanks for posting that, Greg.

    • I am grateful to hear that the Lord used it to encourage you, Donald. I had dear friend let me know he was also encouraged by it. He has some major vocational decisions before him, and any of them will likely require moves. God is faithful (1 Cor. 1:9)!

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