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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, November 3, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 34:1–10, 22

I will bless the Lord at all times;
   his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
   let the humble hear and be glad.
O magnify the Lord with me,
   and let us exalt his name together.
I sought the Lord, and he answered me,
   and delivered me from all my fears.
Look to him, and be radiant;
   so your faces shall never be ashamed.
This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord,
   and was saved from every trouble.
The angel of the Lord encamps
   around those who fear him, and delivers them.
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
   happy are those who take refuge in him.
O fear the Lord, you his holy ones,
   for those who fear him have no want.
The young lions suffer want and hunger,
   but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
   none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned. (NRSV)

“My soul makes its boast in the Lord, let the humble hear and be glad.”

Reading this, I hear echoes of a line from the Third Step Prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs:

“Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help, of your power, your love, and your way of life.”

These words, and the words of the Psalm, flip the usual story we tell ourselves, don’t they? As if I were to say: What I do, what I have done, they’re not my accomplishments, my doings, but only achieved through the grace of God and for God’s kingdom. To say, I offer testimony in order to praise God, not myself, to offer my experience as proof to you of God’s majesty and power.

What might the world be like if we lived in this way? Quick to hand over the praise, the power. To de-center ourselves from the stories of our life—or the stories we tell ourselves about where power belongs and who deserves it—and instead turn the focus on God and for the benefit of God’s people. What in our lives would be turned over—and what sweetness might we get to taste instead?

Lord, aid me in turning my attention from myself, with my daily litany of weariness and woes and my close grasp of personal treasure, so that I might instead say with others, “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.” Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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