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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:25–48
My soul clings to the dust;
     revive me according to your word.
When I told of my ways, you answered me;
     teach me your statutes.
Make me understand the way of your precepts,
     and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
My soul melts away for sorrow;
     strengthen me according to your word.
Put false ways far from me;
     and graciously teach me your law.
I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
     I set your ordinances before me.
I cling to your decrees, O Lord;
     let me not be put to shame.
I run the way of your commandments,
     for you enlarge my understanding.

Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes,
     and I will observe it to the end.
Give me understanding, that I may keep your law
     and observe it with my whole heart.
Lead me in the path of your commandments,
     for I delight in it.
Turn my heart to your decrees,
     and not to selfish gain.
Turn my eyes from looking at vanities;
     give me life in your ways.
Confirm to your servant your promise,
     which is for those who fear you.
Turn away the disgrace that I dread,
     for your ordinances are good.
See, I have longed for your precepts;
     in your righteousness give me life.

Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
     your salvation according to your promise.

Then I shall have an answer for those who taunt me,
     for I trust in your word.
Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
     for my hope is in your ordinances.
I will keep your law continually,
     forever and ever.
I shall walk at liberty,
     for I have sought your precepts.
I will also speak of your decrees before kings,
     and shall not be put to shame;
I find my delight in your commandments,
     because I love them.
I revere your commandments, which I love,
     and I will meditate on your statutes. (NRSV)

So many ways to name it: God’s statutes, precepts, ordinances, decrees, law, word, commandments. These are what the psalmist implores God repeatedly to teach him to understand and obey. He asks God for help to be faithful rather than pursue falsehood. He proclaims his delight in God’s decrees, which are good and give him life, strength, liberty, and hope.

As a Presbyterian, I have been more immersed in the language of God’s grace than God’s law. But the Reformed Christian tradition also takes sin seriously and acknowledges that when left to our own devices, humanity repeatedly falls short of God’s hopes and expectations. We know that we have choices between that which is true, good, and life-giving in God’s eyes and that which is not. We know that the choices we make have consequences, for good or for ill.

Sometimes our choices have unintended consequences and do harm. Sometimes our choices may seem insignificant. Often they may not be in the realm of clearly good or clearly evil but in gray areas in between. For all these reasons, we need to join the psalmist in asking God to guide us on a daily basis in God’s ways, so that the trajectory of our lives arcs toward righteousness. Reflecting on each day at dusk in God’s presence can lead us not only to confess but to make amends and hopefully grow more and more faithful.

Guide my feet, Lord, while I run this race. Hold my hand, Lord, while I run this race. Stand by me, Lord, while I run this race. Search my heart, Lord, for I don’t want to run this race in vain. I am yours. Amen.
(Prayer adapted from the African American spiritual “Guide My Feet”)

Reflection written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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