Thursday, March 1, 2018

The Thirst of a Parched Land

I have been praying recently with this penitential text (posted in large print below) from Psalm 143. There is much here that strikes me and draws me to meditation.

Conversion and repentance spring from the memory of the power and goodness of the Lord. However great our sin and misery, when we turn to him we will discover that he has been reaching out to us, sustaining us, calling us all the while. He never forgets us.

The Lord is faithful, righteous (holy), the One whose works are good, who is worthy of trust. The Lord saves; he is full of steadfast love; he is the teacher, the One whose "spirit" leads to good paths, the preserver who rescues me from distress, and who is my refuge. He is also the One who will "enter into judgment" with me and with all who have ever lived.

He is "my God."

I am not righteous or holy as the Lord would have me be, so that I might stand in his presence. I have kept my distance from him, trying to live by my own self-sufficiency.

I forgot the Lord, and tried to exalt myself by my own strength, by my own ideas and the force of my own will. But then I learned that reality doesn't work that way.

Wandering by myself without the Lord, I became the prey of my enemies. I had no way of escaping the brutal, relentless logic of power and domination. It crushed my life, threw me into darkness, numbed my heart. My spirit was failing within me.

I was left in a desert inside myself, a parched land.

It was then that I remembered the deeds of the Lord, the works of his hands. I remembered his love, the love that creates and saves and renews and always prevails. I too am his handiwork. He is everything that my heart longs for.

Lord, my soul thirsts for you.

And now I cry out to the Lord, I seek his face, I wait upon his word, I lift up my soul to him, I trust in him, I beg for him to save me.

I am like the child who runs away for a careless adventure and becomes lost, then suddenly remembers the warmth of home and the generous love of his parents. The child cries out for help, to find the way home in the dark. He remembers again the tenderness and attentive concern of his parents and he takes heart--he knows that they are not far off, and that they are already searching for him.

"Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my supplications in your faithfulness;
answer me in your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.

"For the enemy has pursued me,
crushing my life to the ground,
making me sit in darkness like those long dead.
Therefore my spirit fails;
my heart is numb within me.

"I remember the days of old,
I think about all your deeds,
I meditate on the works of your hands.
I stretch out my hands to you;
like a parched land my soul thirsts for you.

"Answer me quickly, O Lord;
for my spirit fails within me.
Do not hide your face,
or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit.
Let me hear of your steadfast love in the morning,
for in you I put my trust.
Teach me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.

"Save me, O Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God.
Let your good spirit lead me
on a level path.

"For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life.
In your righteousness save my soul from distress."

~Psalm 143:1-11