by Julian Reese
Tuesday, March 15 – Psalms , 121, 122, 123 v 124, 125, 126, ; Exod. 5:1–6:1; 1 Cor. 14:20–33a, 39–40; Mark 9:42–50
(BCP Readings for today)
The young college woman was attractive, intelligent and concerned that she “had no feelings for God.” As we prayed together, however, issues with her father began to surface. She had grown up hearing that she was “stupid” and repeatedly being called things terrible for a daughter to hear from a father.
Her soul was filled with his contempt. Her sense of shame kept her from experiencing the welcoming love of Christ.
She continued to empty out her soul to God. The sense of worthlessness and shame from the past seventeen years of lies began to dissipate. As I prayed a “father blessing” over her, the tears testified that she was receiving the truths that she was, indeed, intelligent, beautiful and much loved by God her heavenly Father.
“No one has ever spoken like that to me before.”
The shame began to fall away, and the place of honor as a child of God took root in her soul.
In today’s Lenten psalm, Psalm 123, we see the people of God travelling up to Jerusalem to remember God’s goodness and deliverance shown to them in the Exodus. As they acknowledge how “their souls have been filled with contempt”, they remind themselves to “lift up their eyes to Yahweh,” eagerly, expectantly waiting until God empties their shame and fills them with His grace:
“As the eyes of the maid look to the hand of her mistress
so our eyes look to Yahweh our God
until He is gracious to us.
Be gracious to us, O Lord, Be gracious to us.”
As we practice our Lenten disciplines, the psalmist suggests that we include a search to identify our shame and our memories of contempt, as we wait for our God to cleanse us from our shame and to fill us with His goodness and His grace.
“Be gracious to us, O God, be gracious to us.”
Image by Rolands Lakis (used by permission via Creative Commons).