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The Long Road of Lent
by Greg Johnson

Thursday, February 25 – Psalms [70], 71 v 74; Gen. 42:29–38;  1 Cor. 6:12–20; Mark 4:21–34
(BCP Readings for today)

“But I will hope continually and will praise You yet more and more.” Psalm 71:14

The Lenten road seems sometimes long, the path to the glorious day littered with the stuff of life. An illness here. Pressing business there. The loss of a friend. A dramatic career twist for a child. And just the everydayness of everything means monotony, at best, agony, at worst.

The psalmist David knew this way, this way of life. Obscure in the fields as a child. Anointed king when but a boy. A slayer of a giant. The subject of song. Then the object of wrath of the sitting monarch. A hunted man, hiding in caves, fearing and fleeing for his life. Finally, the kingship. Then the fall.

He lingered on the rooftop just long enough for lust to move him to sin, to take another man’s wife. Then he took a life, positioning his lover’s husband at the front of war and exposing him to the enemy’s arrows. David, the anointed one, the one selected by Samuel, the “man after God’s own heart,” killed a giant then maneuvered and manipulated the murder of Uriah.

He repented, but the consequences lingered his whole life. His child died. I can’t imagine the grief nor can I comprehend the crushing shame that must have come knowing his sin preceded the horrific loss. The long road to glory for David was littered with obscurity, promotion, victory, glory, fear, lust, joy, despair, depression, wonder, beauty, loneliness, shame and every other human emotion imaginable.

Thank God he told us about it. Thank God he wrote from his heart about his heart in the Psalms. Thank God he taught us, this giant-slayer, this king, this anointed one, this sinner, God’s chosen are human and can be human, before God, before others, before ourselves on the sometimes lonely road of life.

Age has its attributes. David – and many of us – have now lived enough days to see the glory of the mountaintops, hear the silence in our hearts when abandoned, see the sun set on dreams, sin greatly and experience the wonder of God coming near, love rising again in our hearts just when all hope was lost. We’ve learned our humanity, our fallibility, our imperfection and embraced it, recognizing great is God’s faithfulness, even when our faith fails, when we doubt ourselves and, yes, even God.

David lived deeply, loved deeply, felt deeply and, in the end, hoped ferociously. He learned it from life. He learned it from a loving Father who never forsook him. The Lenten road is sometimes long and littered, yet we know the sun will come and He will rise, in our hearts, in our lives and He will walk with us all our days. Thus we hope continually. Thus we praise, more and more and more and more.

Image by Matthias Ripp (used by permission via Creative Commons).