Taking Lent seriously feels daunting. If we haven’t figured out by Ash Wednesday how we want to approach the season, we may “all or nothing” it; or we might set the first Sunday as the next deadline for our decision. If we’re in that category, today may feel like the most pressure-filled of all.
But fear not! There is still time. One path to a decision might lie in the Psalms, those ancient songs we turn to even today when we need to work through things. They are constructed to express feelings—anger, fear, grief, and joy, for starters—and to bring the person praying to some sense of resolution with and confidence in God.
If we sit with Psalm 25, we find an anxious psalmist pondering all the ways he or she might be in trouble. There is a particular concern that the opinions of other people (very bad people!) might hurt the psalmist’s standing with God. But there is also a hopeful request that misdeeds committed in the dim past might be forgotten. Again and again the psalmist calls on God’s steadfast love and mercy, putting a positive portrait of God in this prayer.
What are we afraid God will find fault with in our lives? Our youthful indiscretions? The half-measures or inadequate faithfulness we fear others might notice? Or simply that we haven’t gotten ourselves organized to take on or let go of something for Lent? The work of the psalm moves us to reassurance: If we are willing and open participants in a relationship with God, we can rely on God’s steadfast love and faithfulness to guide us along the way.
Loving God, you are steadfast even when we are changeable. Help us to embrace the practices that bring us closer to you in the coming weeks. Teach us to center our hearts and minds on you, with humble confidence in your mercy. Amen.
The season of Lent is now upon us, a time of inward examination that begins on Ash Wednesday. We search ourselves and ask God to search us, so that we can follow God more completely. This examination, however, can become a cause for despair if we do not approach it with God’s everlasting mercy and faithfulness in mind. Although the Flood was a result of judgment, God also saved the faithful and established a covenant with them. The psalmist seeks to learn God’s ways, all the while realizing that he has fallen short and must rely on God’s grace. For Christians, baptism functions as a symbol of salvation and a reminder of God’s covenant faithfulness—not because the water is holy but because God is holy and merciful.
Read Genesis 9:8-17. When have you, after a season of loss, experienced new life? What was the sign of that new life?
Read Psalm 25:1-10. How are you experiencing God’s steadfast love and faithfulness in your life? How do you offer thanks?
Read 1 Peter 3:18-22. When have you sacrificed something for the sake of someone else?
Read Mark 1:9-15. Recall a “wilderness” experience in your own life. What helped you to move through that experience? What were the spiritual gifts of that experience?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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