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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 84   

How lovely is your dwelling place,
   O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints
   for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy
   to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home,
   and the swallow a nest for herself,
   where she may lay her young,
at your altars, O Lord of hosts,
   my King and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house,
   ever singing your praise.

Happy are those whose strength is in you,
   in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
As they go through the valley of Baca
   they make it a place of springs;
   the early rain also covers it with pools.
They go from strength to strength;
   the God of gods will be seen in Zion.

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
   give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
   look on the face of your anointed.

For a day in your courts is better
   than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
   than live in the tents of wickedness.
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
   he bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
   happy is everyone who trusts in you. (NRSV)

When I first read Psalm 84, verses 1 and 2 conjured up in my mind the clichéd but joyful, holy place in the sky, wherein God dwells in community with all the departed souls. Luminous light, wholeness, the joy of being. My soul yearns to be there too; I don’t want my physical life to end, thank you very much, but an existence where worldly concerns find no purchase, and there is no sense of “apartness” sounds divine!

At the end of verse 2, and then verse 3, the words “living God” and the assertion that God favors and benevolently protects even a sparrow and her young pulls me squarely back into the here and now. God’s grace is limitless and accessible. If I boldly surrender to God’s will and providence, I too can find that elusive, lightness of being. A simple concept but for our human nature, which keeps asserting its own importance and complicates things! Living faithfully and putting my trust in God, therefore, is and will be a lifelong joy and discipline.

Verses 5-7 describe the path to Zion. Faithful followers of God aren’t defeated by physical or mental barriers. In fact their faith and trust in their Holy God gives them strength, courage, and sanctuary—regardless of the outcome.

When I have reached the limit of what I can do myself, I lift up the burden to God and, without fail, comfort and peace follows. Surrendering myself to God’s will and trusting in the outcome is both precarious and joyfully liberating. I am a faithful work in progress!

Loving God, grant me the courage to surrender to you; trusting in your plan for my life, and seeking the joy and freedom of being in faithful, loving community with you, always. Amen.

Written by Holly O' Mara, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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