Thursday, March 17, 2016

For your memoir’s grand finale: Psalm 136

Recently we’ve been considering your memoir’s ending. You want, and need, to create a grand finale—an ending that will impact your readers. (Click on Do you know how your memoir will end? and Give muscle to your memoir’s ending.)

Your grand finale gives you an opportunity—a chance to highlight your moist important points, those messages you want your readers to remember and apply to their own lives.

Most of us here at SM 101 write our memoirs because of verses like Deuteronomy 4:9 which tells us:

Always remember what you’ve seen God do for you
and be sure to tell your children and grandchildren!

(That doesn’t mean you must mention God in every incident/chapter/vignette, but you, the author, will pull everything together, recognizing God was always with you and acting on your behalf even if you didn’t recognize Him at the time.)

Craft a grand finale that celebrates God in a personal way.

One of the easiest, most powerful ways to craft a grand finale is the following fill-in-the-blank exercise using Psalm 136, a magnificent song of praise to God—a celebration of God.

You’ll customize your own version of Psalm 136 starting in verse ten, but first let’s look at verses one through nine. Praise focuses on God the Creator of all: He is good and His love endures forever. He made the heavens, spread out the earth upon the waters, and made the sun, moon, and stars.

I suggest you include those first nine verses, as-is, in your grand finale, then starting with verse ten, you can tailor-make the rest of the psalm for your memoir.

Here’s what I mean.

Starting with verse ten, praise focuses on God who is personally involved with His children—their families, their daily comings and goings, and the span and purposes of their lives.

For example, those next few verses praise God for bringing Israel out of Egypt and recount the additional ways God showed His love and faithfulness to His people, Israel.

Your customized version of Psalm 136 could look something like this (and you will fill in the blanks, listing the ways God guided your family):

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.
            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
            His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
            His love endures forever.
to Him who alone does great wonders,
            His love endures forever.
who by His understanding made the heavens,
            His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
            His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
            His love endures forever.
the  sun to govern the day,
            His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
            His love endures forever.
His love endures forever.
His love endures forever.
His love endures forever.

…and so on. (Psalm 136, NIV)

Starting with verse ten, you might want to go back several generations, especially if, for example, your family survived the Holocaust, or the infamous Clearances in Scotland, the potato famine in Ireland, a war, or the Great Depression, or some other challenge. Or maybe you know (or can research) stories of your family as pioneers or immigrants.

Add as many lines as you wish. Probably the more the better!

Your grand finale will likely consist of
more than a paraphrase of Psalm 136,
but including it can help your kids, grandkids,
and other family members
recognize they are part of God’s family,
part of something much bigger than themselves and their generation.

Make your grand finale a celebration of God!

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