Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Leaning Into Lent: Day 24—Out of Hiding

I read this in A Song of Entreaty, from Psalm 143, in Evening Prayer yesterday:
3 My spirit faints within me; •
my heart within me is desolate.
4 I stretch out my hands to you; •
my soul gasps for you like a thirsty land.
5 O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; •
hide not your face from me
lest I be like those who go down to the Pit.
I don’t feel as if my spirit is fainting or failing, that my heart is desolate, or that I’m gasping at the moment. Thanks be to God. But these verses remind me that there are those who do feel that way so I can pray for them. Neither do I feel like God has hidden his face from me even though I don’t feel his presence most of the time and I’m hardly ever aware of what God is up to at any given moment. After all, as I also read, in one of the Psalms for the day:
The hidden purpose of the Lord is for those who fear him •
and he will show them his covenant. (Ps 25.13)
The fact is, God’s ways and thoughts are so far and away higher than mine (Isa 55.9), that to my tiny mind God is pretty well always hidden. The five dollar word for that is inscrutable.

Observing a Holy Lent, however, isn’t so much about God being hidden as it is about me being so. When Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day after they had sampled the forbidden fruit, they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees. So the Lord God had to call, “Where are you?” (Gen 3.8-9) and that has been his call ever since.

I sin and I hide in the weeds. Self examination, penitence, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, reading and meditating on the Word of God lifts my head above the weeds so I can say, “Here I am,” and we can walk and talk together again.

Then, if there is ever any hiding to be done. The Lord God can do it for me and keep me safe.
Keep me as the apple of your eye.
Hide me under the shadow of your wings. (From Ps 17 in Night Prayer)