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Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Help then, O Lord, our unbelief;
and may our faith abound
to call on you when you are near
and seek where you are found.
And when our life of faith is done,
in realms of clearer light
may we behold you as you are,
with full and endless sight.
“We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight” (vv. 3–4) by Henry Alford
Hymn 817, Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal
I sing this song differently than I did thirty years ago.
In my twenties I melodically sailed right over phrases like “unbelief” and “when our life of faith is done.” I had decisions to make and things to do. For whatever reason, probably some combination of nature and nurture, I didn’t see much grey in matters of faith or my relationship with God. I saw a path and headed for it, confident that it would take me to who I was supposed to be. Though I’m sure I thought I was walking by faith, my own vision was front and center.
These verses mean more now. Having experienced the pain of the world’s deep brokenness, not to mention my own limitations and failures, I know more about “unbelief.” Having lived through the loss of people and places that shaped my life (and seeing where more are coming), I understand that there are periods when my faith definitely does not “abound.” Feeling the warranty wind down on my joints and teeth and eyes and the rest of this miraculous body I have been given has made it clear that well over half of my life is over.
So much of Lent is about doing: what we give up or add in, what’s different about practices in church or at home. Even in quiet reflection, the focus might be on what I do wrong or how I might act better.
But these verses are an invitation to use some of my Lenten meditation to examine my faith. If I look at my life honestly, and find places of unbelief, I can ask for conviction. When I am afraid about what’s coming in this life and the next, I can be bolstered by the thought of knowing the fullness of God. In darkness I can watch for “full and endless light.”
Gracious God, who is present in all the seasons of life, thank you for the time I have been given to learn you. Please give me faith. Amen.
Written by Susan Quaintance, Director, Center for Life and Learning
Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church
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