Daily Lent Devotions from Church Street UMC
Sunday, March 6, Evening
By Laura Still
Read Psalm 63:1-8
“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.”
The psalmist sings about a dry and desert place, and the image we see depends on what our experience of the desert might be. Endless waves of sand under a hot white sky, or rock-littered ravines and canyons with mesquite trees and cacti, or even huge stone formations scoured by wind are physical descriptions of deserts, and all of them are lonely. That of course is why the desert image is common in songs, poetry, and Bible stories.
Separation and loneliness are parts of human existence, and everyone feels lost and cut off at some point. The physical separation we have endured since the pandemic began is difficult enough, but mental and emotional effects can be harder to overcome. The sensation of drifting in limbo, waiting for the next thing to happen, is called languishing. It’s not quite depression, but still a paralyzing feeling of being unable to go forward or change your condition.
Change doesn’t happen by itself—it has to be initiated. This is what the psalmist understands, and so declares he will seek after God, praise his name, and in God’s name lift up his hands. He states his intention of clinging to God and trusting God to uphold him. If we begin by seeking after God and praising him, then God will give us the strength to lift up our hands and uphold us as the work of change begins.
Yes, there is work involved, and we may feel too exhausted or numb inside to believe we can make the effort. The good news is that God sees potential where we see only problems. We may be “a dry and parched land” inside our soul, but God can make the desert bloom.
It springs from seeds sown when we are fallow, sleeping,
unable to understand the coming of green things,
or how sun reaches below ground to split the shell
& begin the growing.
We cannot know the mind of the sower, who feels
our inchoate fecundity, gives dreams of greenness
before we know we slumber, or that this limbo
is only waiting, a womb between dark & light
before our story starts,
anymore than we can stop a sprout from rising
out of its broken pod, struggling through soil
& stone towards air & light, breaking surface,