Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Leaning Into Lent: Day 18—On Being a Leaning Fence

A Leaning Fence, Port Chalmers, NZ
Life is complicated. We’re reading through the Genesis story of Joseph in Morning Prayer just now. After being sold into slavery by his brothers, unjustly imprisoned for four years after resisting Potiphar’s wife’s advances, and finally being reunited with his family (after getting up to a little mischief with his brothers), you’d think that the Lord would have let things settle right down so he could just relax. But no, when it came time for his father, Israel, to bless Joseph’s sons, Manassah and Ephraim, the old man crossed his hands (Gen 48.14) and leaned in an unexpected direction giving Ephraim, the younger son, what should have been Manasseh, the firstborn’s, blessing. It was Esau and Jacob déjà vu all over again. God seemed to be picking the “wrong” one.

The lenten lesson for me is—

  1. expect God to do the unexpected
  2. to take his own good, and usually very lengthy, time to do it and 
  3. that I won’t necessarily like it. 

How shall I respond? Self examination, penitence, prayer… Self examination, penitence, prayer… Self exam…

Evening Prayer’s Psalm 62 arrives just in time:
3 How long will all of you assail me to destroy me,
as you would a tottering wall or a leaning fence? 
How long will doubts, and what-ifs, and guilt, and things I wish I’d done, or not, and things I’d hoped for which didn’t come to pass, and on and on, assail me and push me even further away and over in my leaning? If I allow my dissatisfaction with God’s will and timing to get the better of me, my “leaning fence” self may give way completely and fall. This morning’s reading from Hebrews includes a stern warning about how that can turn out (Heb 6.4-6).

Self examination, penitence, prayer… Self examination, penitence, prayer… Self exam…reading and meditating on the Word of God…Psalm 62 again:
1 On God alone my soul in stillness waits; •
from him comes my salvation.

5 Wait on God alone in stillness, O my soul; •
for in him is my hope.
6 He alone is my rock and my salvation, •
my stronghold, so that I shall not be shaken. R
7 In God is my strength and my glory; •
God is my strong rock; in him is my refuge.
8 Put your trust in him always, my people; •
pour out your hearts before him, for God is our refuge.
Just as well.


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