In the spirit of this evening, I want you to turn back to Psalm 107. This is an evening of thanks. This is an evening of praise for our salvation, for our God of salvation, for the Christ of our salvation. When I think about salvation in an Old Testament context, I'm so often drawn to Psalm 107. And I confess that I am stuck on this psalm. It is a glorious psalm.
It has a special significance to me because one of the most startling and one of the most amazing and one of the most God-glorifying conversions that has ever happened in this church and in my life occurred after I read this psalm. I didn't preach on it; I just read it, closed the Bible, sat down, and never referred to it again.
There was a young man sitting over in this area that Sunday morning who was one of the leaders of the gay and lesbian community in Los Angeles; a well-known and admired leader in that movement, also dying of AIDS. And he had said to somebody in Hollywood, in his environment, "I'm afraid to die and I don't know what to do about it. I need help." And whoever this person was, said, "You need to go to a place called Grace Community Church,” and he did.
And I read the Psalm 107 and he was just literally shattered to the very core of his being. And he was a heap of brokenness and tears and sadness and joy, all mingled together because that psalm says there is a God who breaks the chains and sets the prisoner free.
He said to me later, he said, "Then you got up and you talked and you kept preaching and preaching and just kept going, and I kept saying, "Why doesn't that guy shut up so I can get down there and find out how this can happen in my life?" (Laughter) And so finally I shut up and he came down here and was just totally transformed and revolutionized. I had the privilege of baptizing Robert Logerstrum, that young man, and he had an incredible testimony in that world before he died.
So this psalm is precious to me because it's a psalm of salvation. As much as any part of the Old Testament, it puts us in touch with how people in the Old Testament were saved. It's just a profound, profound psalm. And it's really all about praise. Worship and praise and honor to God is really a matter of thanking God.
When Paul indicts the human race in Romans 1, he says, "They weren't thankful.” Romans 1:21, "They weren't thankful." And if we're gonna worship God--and that's what we want to do tonight--if we're gonna honor Him and praise Him and extol Him and lift Him up, then we have to focus on being grateful for our redemption, don't we?
To help us express this, I want us to look at this incredible psalm. It calls us to the worship of God through thanksgiving for our salvation. This wonderful psalm was sung by the Jews especially to thank God for redeeming His people from threatening disaster and death.
It was used in a myriad of ways in the vicissitudes and struggles and sorrows of life, at times of disaster. In times of death, this was the psalm of thanks for deliverance. It provides a rich picture of the divine work of redemption, the divine work of restoration, particularly in regard to the redemption and restoration of Israel by the mercy and goodness of God.
Israel, as you know, had been redeemed and rescued and restored by God over and over and over through the centuries. They had been rescued from Egypt in the south. They had been rescued from Assyria and Syria to the north. They had been rescued from the Philistines to the west and they were rescued from the Babylonians to the east. They had plenty of reason to sing about God's great deliverance.
The opening verses are a summons to thank God. Verse 1 says, "Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from the hand of the enemy and gathered out of the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south." In that summation rehearses all of the deliverances of Israel from every direction.
Now the psalm was mostly likely written after the exile in Babylon. It perhaps then looks especially at the Babylonian exile, the redemption of the people of God from their Babylonian captivity. And while that may be in some ways its most poignant reference, it is certainly not limited to that. In fact, it provides general pictures of God's redemption of Old Testament saints and as well of God's redemption even of us. It is applicable to all who have been redeemed from sin.
I'm fairly sure that this psalm was used for worship, particularly by the Jews who returned from Babylon to rebuild their city and rebuild the wall and rebuild the nation. Perhaps this psalm was even sung at the first Feast of Tabernacles that Ezra 3 says was celebrated right after they returned.
The key phrase there in verse 2 is, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." Those who have been redeemed are the ones who ought to be praising God and thanking God. Those who have been redeemed are those who can genuinely sing the song of thanksgiving for God's goodness and God's mercy to them.
Goodness and mercy is the theme of the song, and it's the theme of the life of one who has tasted its sweetness and been invited to sing praises to a redeeming God. And as I said, it's not just Israel's song; it's our song, for we have been redeemed by mercy and by the goodness of God, and we have every right to sing this same song.
As you look at it, you see four illustrations of God's redemption. They're just very lovely, very magnificent, and yet simple pictures. Four pictures of God's redemption. First, in verses 4 to 9, God's redemption is like a lost caravan finding a safe city. Secondly, from verses 10 to 16, God's redemption is like a captive prisoner being set free.
Thirdly, in verses 17 to 22, God's redemption is like a sick person having found health. And finally, in verses 23 to 32, God's redemption is like a doomed sailor being rescued from certain death in a storm. Each of these poignant, graphic analogies illustrates the blessedness of God's redemption.
Perhaps we can envision a large throng of worshipers filling the court of the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem and ready to offer thanks to God for their restoration. And in that vast multitude, one of the groups might consist of the leaders of caravans who had been stranded in the wilderness on their way to the holy city.
Another group might be made up of those who had been prisoners and been set free. Another might be made up of those who had suffered the terrible pangs of sickness and had risen from the bed of sickness in recovery. And perhaps there were some there who had suffered the dangers of shipwreck and been spared. And those are the pictures here, and they're graphic.
This is also, from the theological standpoint, a clear picture of how it was that a person in the Old Testament came to salvation. It was when they realized that they were lost, when they realized that they were prisoners, when they realized that they were sick, and when they realized that they were doomed to disaster, when they realized that they couldn't keep the law of a holy God, they couldn't love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength.
They were disobedient. They were rebellious. They were wayward. They saw the true lostness of their soul, the true imprisonment of their spirit. They realized the sickness of their sinfulness and the doom that awaited them, and they came to God and cried out.
Now each of these four pictures falls into the same pattern. The psalmist follows a sequence here. First, there is the predicament. Then there is the petition. Then there is the pardon. And then there is the praise. The predicament is the dangerous situation described. The petition is the cry for deliverance from that danger. The pardon is the merciful deliverance provided. And the praise is the call to thanks that follows.
Our own redemption from sin is imaged in these magnificent analogies. We, too, are like people lost in the wilderness, locked in prison, languishing in deadly sickness, and life-threatened on a storm-tossed sea. This picture then is not only of the redeemed of the Old Testament, but us as well.
Let's start with the first picture. It's very, very clear--that of being lost in a wilderness, verse 4: "They wandered in the wilderness in a desolate way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them." There's the predicament. There is the predicament--restless, lost, sinners without resources, starved and thirsty, wandering hopelessly in a trackless desert, aimlessly looking for a city which can provide food and water, rest, and safety.
Obviously this could well depict Israel in the forty years wandering in the wilderness, when they came out of Egypt wandering restlessly and aimlessly, roaming around in a wasteland, a howling desert between Egypt and Canaan where they all eventually died under divine judgment.
It also surely could be used to describe the terrible plight of Israel and the land of Babylon lost as a nation, defused into a pagan culture in a religious desert of godlessness at the very point of perishing. It could also describe us, any troubled, destitute, forlorn, lost soul wandering aimlessly in the barrenness of sin without the soul-supplying spiritual bread and water of life.
That's how sinners are. They wander, looking for a city, someplace where there's water, someplace where there's food, where there's provision and joy and fellowship and rest and security and safety from the ever-present and impending death.
That leads to the petition in verse 6. This point psalmist says, "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble." People ask me all the time, "How were people in the Old Testament saved?" When they realized their spiritual condition and cried out to the Lord. That's how. They cried out to the Lord in their distresses.
Israel certainly cried to the Lord in Egypt. They cried to the Lord in Babylon, they beseeching God for redemption from bondage and redemption from barrenness. They told God of their famished and serious plight and condition. They illustrate, really, sinners of all times who recognize their failure to keep the law of God, who recognized their lostness, their aimlessness; who recognized their deprived and their depraved and dangerous condition.
They recognized that they were wandering aimlessly from place to place and job to job and marriage to marriage and experience to experience, and never finding any lasting satisfaction. And they desperately want to find their way to an inhabited city of safety and peace and tranquility and satisfaction.
They're really looking, according to Hebrews 11:10, for a city whose builder and maker is God; a city that has foundations. It's not transient. This is where the sinner has to come to a desperate sense of need.
In the Old Testament, persons saw of the law of God and saw that he or she couldn't keep it, and recognized the desperate condition, recognized the alienation from God, recognized that there was impending death on the horizon, and cried out to God in the condition of lostness, like sinners of any day who realized that the whole world is a barren wasteland of vast empty desert; stark and deadly will become desperate enough and hungry enough and thirsty enough and pained enough and frightened enough to call out to God for a way to a city, a city with limitless resources, provisions, rest, security, and satisfaction.
And verse 6 says--and this is so wonderful--"And He delivered them out of their distresses. And He led them forth by the right way that they might go to a city for a dwelling place." When Israel called to God, He heard them, and He delivered them, and He led them to a right way.
Actually, the Hebrew is a straight way. It literally means a road without humps and bumps and curves and turns, an easy road. The grace of salvation makes it an easy way. The journey is depicted as a straight way, an easy way. God provided goodness and mercy and grace, and it was Him who did all the work. All we had to do was receive it.
Well, the petition leads to the pardon, and the pardon leads to the praise in verses 8 and 9, "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness." What could more deserve the praise and thanks of God's people than that they are safely on their way to the heavenly city?
The second picture here is also a lovely picture. It's a picture of being liberated from a prison, lost in a wilderness, and secondly, locked in a prison. Verse 10, here's the imagery very clearly: "Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, bound in affliction and irons."
Now there is a picture of a prisoner in a dungeon, in the darkness, in the shadow of death. People in those kinds of places died from the filth of those places, chained in iron chains that created tremendous suffering. They were there, verse 11 says--and here's the key--"Because they rebelled against"...What?...“the words of God." And “they had despised the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; they fell down and there was none to help."
The sinner not only looked at his life and recognized the aimlessness and the lostness and the hopelessness and the insecurity and the fears and the lack of satisfaction and the hunger of heart and the thirst. And Jesus talked about that in the beatitudes, didn't he. "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness."
The sinner not only understands the aimlessness and the hopelessness and the despair and the emptiness, but he also understands that he is imprisoned as the result of a violation of Gods laws, a result of rebellion against the counsel of God, as a result of rebellion against the Word of God.
When Israel was in Egypt and when Israel was in Babylon, more recently, the experience was like in prison, and they had really no hope of freedom. They were there because of rebellion. They were there because of disobedience. They were, as it were, chained in the darkness and gloom of that pagan place.
They were like people in a dungeon, a stinking, smelly, filthy dungeon on death row waiting either execution or death from the conditions, without light and without hope. This calamitous situation was brought on by rebellion against the law of God by sin.
And in the Old Testament, it was that. The sinner not only had to come to the realization of his lostness and his insecurity and his aimlessness and his pointlessness, but the fact that he had to come to grips with the fact he had violated God, that he had broken God's law, that he had rebelled against God, and a righteous God had sentenced him literally to a prison of judgment.
This is how it was for Israel. They were taken into captivity in Babylon because of their rebellion. The prophets made that very clear. Read the first part of Zechariah. They had despised everything God said. Isaiah said the same thing in Isaiah chapter 5. He said, "You have despised the words of the Lord, that's why you're going into captivity."
I guess Zedekiah, who was their ruler, is kind of a model, kind of a symbol of their condition. You remember what the Babylonians did to Zedekiah? They took him and they slaughtered his sons right before him, and then they plucked his eyes out so that he would, in the rest of his lifetime of blindness, have the horrifying last image of the slaughter of his sons in his memory.
And then after doing that to him, they sacked and burned and destroyed Jerusalem and took the people captive. That was how he was hauled off in chains, by the way they put him in chains and hauled him off. It was like a picture of Israel. It was like an analogy or a symbol or a metaphor for the nation.
The sinner has to come to the recognition of this. And in the Old Testament that's where the sinner who would come to God would come--come to the realization that he had rebelled against God and that he was in the prison of his own sins, sentenced to damnation. He would come to the recognition of his spiritual imprisonment.
Adam, in all his posterity, rebelled against God and His Word; and the whole race is imprisoned in a dungeon of darkness, awaiting execution. Life is hard and unfulfilling. The soul of sinners is confined in the prison of inequity and the guilt and dissatisfaction, bound with chains too strong to be broken, living in total darkness, and realizing that this is a sentence of God because of sin. The sinner awakens.
And that leads to the petition in verse 13: "They cried out to the Lord in their trouble." That's where they come. That's where the sinner has to come. It's the same as verse 6: "They cried out to the Lord in their trouble." The same exact pattern. And then you go from the petition to the pardon in verse 13. And the same immediate reaction, "And then He saves them out of their distresses."
Jesus said it this way, "Him that comes unto me, I'll in no wise"...What?..."cast out." "And He saved them out of their distresses. And He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death and broke their chains in pieces." That is glorious, isn't it? The sinner's chains, like Peter's chains, fell off at the word of the Redeemer, and he was brought into the light.
Charles Wesley put it this way, "He breaks the power of canceled sin and”...What?..."sets the prisoner free." Suddenly and instantaneously. And such pardon leads to praise. And the psalmist pleads if this has happened to you, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and for His wonderful works to the children of man."
That's the refrain that ends each of these images. The joy--Have you forgotten the joy consequent to such deliverance? “Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.” Lost in a wilderness, restless; locked in a prison, guilty and miserable.
Thirdly, languishing in a sickness; another graphic image. Fools--again, the indictment comes because of their transgression and because of their inequities--were afflicted. They were made ill. It's like a fatal, deadly illness; a fatal, deadly sickness. And as would be true of someone with that kind of illness, you will notice that in verse 18 it says, "Their soul abhorred all manner of"...What?..."food."
When a person reaches the last throes of the deadly illness, they have no, what? No appetite. Loss of appetite. And he says in verse 18, "And they drew near to the gates of death." This is a picture, again, of the sinner in his lost condition; could be Israel in Babylon languishing in trouble. Could even be a reference that could apply to Numbers 21:4-9.
Remember the story of the snakes that came in and bit them? And when they were near to death, they were called to look to the serpent that was lifted up, who was the picture of Christ? Here is the imagery. Sinners are sick with a deadly, incurable ailment, requiring divine and miraculous intervention for a cure.
So the sinner not only realizes his aimlessness; he not only realizes his profound guilt and misery, but he realizes his impotence. He doesn't have the strength or the capability to bring about a cure. He has a condition that is hopeless. He is unable to handle life. He is unable to deal with issues in life. He has no peace. He just wastes away to death.
That's how sinners are--wanderers, restless, aimless; like prisoners, also chained, held in darkness, like depressed, sick neurotics who can't cope, who can't help themselves. And in each case, whether lost in the wilderness, locked in prison, or languishing in sickness, death is imminent. When a sinner comes to this realization, verse 19 says, "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble;" same exact flow. "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble."
And the petition leads again to the pardon. This is so wonderful. "And He saved them out of their distresses. He sent His Word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions." Is this not the goodness of God? Is this not the mercy of God? Here are these lost; here are these locked; here are these languishing, crying out to a God who eagerly, eagerly hears.
Sinners sick with guilt, sick with anxiety, listless, depressed, troubled, without appetite, on the edge, on the brink, in desperation call out, and God hears. Boy, this is just the absolute opposite from the way the Pharisees viewed their religion, isn't it? The kingdom belonged to the people who were righteous, self-righteous. Here God offers pardon to the people who recognize how bad they are, not how good they are.
And the pardon leads to the praise again, Verse 21. "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men." The psalmist is just pleading here. The psalmist is pleading again. He repeats himself four times with this, and it really is a plead, saying, "Please don't be thankless. Please don't be thankless."
Praise is what is appropriate; worship, adoration, gratitude. Psalm 105 says, "Oh, give thanks to the Lord...make known His deeds among the people. Sing to Him," verse 2, "Sing praises to Him. Talk of all His wondrous works." You can't possibly forget you should be praising and praising and praising and thanking God and thanking God.
And when the church gathers, this is what the church gathers to do: to worship and praise and honor God and lift up His saving character and His saving work, and exalt the Savior through whom this salvation was provided. Jesus hadn't yet died, but the pardon God offered to a penitent sinner was offered because Jesus would one day bear that sinner's guilt.
Even though He hadn't yet died, He would be the sacrifice for that Old Testament penitent. And the sins of that Old Testament penitent would be placed on Christ, who would bear them. Lost in a wilderness, locked in a prison, languishing in a sickness, and finally, life threatened in a storm, verse 23. These were the kind of things that people in the ancient world experienced. It happened all the time.
Terrible sand storms caused people to be lost. Prisons abounded with filth and death. Sickness was everywhere--epidemics, deadly plagues, and also because so much transportation was done on the sea. The sea, of course, was equally, if not more, threatening.
And so that's his last illustration in verse 23, "Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do business on great waters; they see the works of the Lord, and His wonders in the deep. For He commands and raises the stormy wind, which lifts of the waves of the sea. They mount up to the heavens; they go down again to depths." This is the surging sea.
"And the soul of the sailor melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end." This is, again, the predicament. He always starts with the predicament. The fearful dangers of man’s sinful condition is like a storm at sea with its impending drowning. This really requires little comment.
Israel's captivity in Babylon was like this. It was like a storm at sea, like Jonah's experience with the sailors headed for Tarshish. I'll tell ya, there's nothing more frightening, I understand. I haven't experienced it. But people who have say there's nothing more frightening than being on a ship that's sinking in a storm. And souls literally melt; terror seizes the heart when there's not harbor and no rescue and only death.
The Jews knew that the storm of the Babylonian captivity had swept over the whole nation and threatened to drown them all. But more than that, it was an individual storm that would drown each soul. The world is a sea to sinners. It's a troubled sea. It's a sea full of temptation and sorrow and suffering, and its waves will one day drown.
The prince of the power of the air is really blowing the stormy wind. Heaven is the safe port and it can't be reached, though, by all the sinners' efforts, can it? The violence of life, the uncertainty of life, the oppressions of life, the disappointments of life, the agitations of life all pose death and disaster.
And so again comes the petition simply uttered in verse 28, "Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble, and He brings them out of their distresses." If ever there was a question about whether God was a willing savior, it should be answered by this psalm, shouldn't it? These people aren't deserving. These people are undeserving. We all are.
And the petition is answered with a pardon. "He brings them out of their distresses. He calms the storm so that its waves are still. Then they are glad because they're quiet. So He guides them to their desired haven." Just beautiful language from the restless, miserable, sick, fearful, aimless, wandering life, headed absolutely nowhere, with no resources, hopelessly near death and hell, calling on the Lord. It's all it requires.
I think some people may assume that people were saved in the Old Testament by some other way than we understand in the New Testament. Not at all. It was a matter of the sinner recognizing his condition; recognizing he was on the brink of death; recognizing he had no strength and no ability to solve the problem and deliver himself; knowing that he was a rebel who had violated God's law and couldn't satisfy God's law and earn salvation. He couldn't get himself to the Holy City. He couldn't get himself out of prison. He couldn't get himself out of the storm to the safe haven. He couldn't do anything to cure his own illness. And so he cries out to God.
I think maybe the single greatest illustration in the Bible of an Old Testament conversion is in Luke 18 where you have the Pharisees saying, "Aren't you glad, Lord, that I'm not like these other people? I tithe and I do all this." And then you have in the corner, looking down on the ground, beating his breast, the publican, and he's saying, "God, be"...What?..."merciful to me, a..." and Jesus said, "That's the man that went home justified."
That is a classic Old Testament conversion. And it was possible because of the sin-bearing of Christ, who would bear the sins of that man, just like He bears the sins of the one who believes today. The law of God, then and now, was to crush the sinner; to expose him for all this kind of condition for which he had no remedy but to cry to God for mercy.
Another one of the most remarkable conversions in our church--I was in my office one day, and I received a phone call from the hospital down the road, and I didn't know the person who called. He had someone in the hospital; called and said, "There's a man here dying and he wants to see you. You don't know him, but he wants to see you." So I got in my car and I went down to the hospital. It was just about six o'clock in the evening, and I walked in the room and it was another guy who was dying of AIDS.
And there was a homosexual friend or two of his. There was a homosexual from the homosexual assistance line or whatever it is that comes to help people when they have AIDS. And there was a homosexual nurse. And I walked into the room, and I immediately realized the situation. And I went over to him. His name was David Chastine.
And I said, “David, I'm John MacArthur. You called the church; you wanted me?” He said, "Yes." He said, "I've lived 20 years in this lifestyle and," he said, "I'm damned and I'm on my way to hell, and I grew up in a Christian family, and I went to a Bible college for two years. And I know the gospel and I rejected it. And I rebelled against the words of the Lord. And," he said, "I've lived this way."
He was a bathhouse homosexual of the worst ilk. It was a horrific scene. He said, "I don't want to die. I'm afraid to die. Please, can you help me?" And at that point, those guys went out of there like somebody was chasing them. (Laughter) I said, "Well, can you explain the gospel so that I know you understand?" And he went through the gospel; understood it clearly.
And I said, "How do you feel about the life you've lived?" He said, "It is sin." And then he just gushed out this, "It is wretched. I've always known it's rotten. I've always known God hated it. I've always known it's wrong. I've lived with terrible guilt and now I'm gonna go to hell!" He said, "What do I do? What do I do?" I said, "Well, I only know one thing to do."
I never give a guy a formula to pray. I said, "I only know one thing to do and that is this: Cry out to God in your distress and ask Him if he will save you. I can't save you and you can't save yourself through a formula. You ask God to save you." Now I know that when a truly penitent sinner cries out to God, He hears. Right?
This is what it says. "They cried out to the Lord in their trouble and He"...What?..."saved them out of their distresses." I said, "You just cry out to God." So he took my hand. I mean it was one of the most passionate prayers; one of those prayers that I'll never forget. "Please God. I'm so sorry. Please, please don't let me die in my sin. Please save me!"
He went on for like ten minutes, and he says...as much strength as he had, he's just wringing my hand. And then he was finished praying and then I prayed for quite a long time and just asked God to be merciful and gracious and put His glory on display and show that He was a saving God and He would rescue a sinner at the last moment. And we prayed; then it was over.
Our prayers were over and he just sat back in his bed. There was tremendous anguish and tears and all this. He just kind of broke into a smile and he looked over at the wall. I said, "What are you looking at?" He said, "I'm looking at the calendar over there." I said, "Why?" He said, "I want to remember the date of my new beginning."
And I'm not real mystical about things, but I know when you call on God, He hears, 'cause the Scripture says that. And he lived five days. And I went down there and just kept passing information. He was cramming for his finals. (Laughter) I took him books and tapes. He wanted to show up in heaven knowing at least a few things. (Laughter) And he witnessed to everybody who came to see him from that community.
God is in the business of hearing the cry of the distressed, isn't He? And you may not be in that category of sinner, but we were all in that category of sins somewhere. And we cried out and He heard us. And so the psalmist says in verse 31, "Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men."
And you know what ought to happen every time your people meet, every time you gather as a church? You ought to be thanking God for His gift of salvation; that your whole church oughta be just exuberant. You sang tonight. You just sang your hearts out tonight because of the joy of your salvation, right? You were just lifted up. When Dianne was singing about, "We shall see Him face to face,” that's real. That's not some fantasy. That's not some illusion. We understand that's where we're headed.
When the quartet was singing about the trumpet of Jesus, we know that's gonna sound. Those are all realities to us, and we sing with such exuberance. When an unbeliever walks in a church they oughta be overwhelmed with the joy and gratitude--just worshiping God, just glorifying God. I've said this and I'll say it again, "No man seeks after God." We want to have a seeker-friendly service. But no man seeks after God. But God seeks true worshipers. And He's the Seeker we're concerned about.
We want to just be so caught up in worship that like in 1 Corinthians 14, "A sinner would say, 'God is in this place,' and fall down on his face." We want people to eavesdrop on a worshiping community of people who are thrilled and excited and blessed and full of joy and gratitude.