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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Monday, August 19, 2019           

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 80:1–2, 8–19          

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel,
   you who lead Joseph like a flock!
You who are enthroned upon the cherubim, shine forth
   before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh.
Stir up your might,
   and come to save us!

You brought a vine out of Egypt;
   you drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground for it;
   it took deep root and filled the land.
The mountains were covered with its shade,
   the mighty cedars with its branches;
it sent out its branches to the sea,
   and its shoots to the River.
Why then have you broken down its walls,
   so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit?
The boar from the forest ravages it,
   and all that move in the field feed on it.

Turn again, O God of hosts;
   look down from heaven, and see;
have regard for this vine,
   the stock that your right hand planted.
They have burned it with fire, they have cut it down;
   may they perish at the rebuke of your countenance.
But let your hand be upon the one at your right hand,
   the one whom you made strong for yourself.
Then we will never turn back from you;
   give us life, and we will call on your name.

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. (NRSV)

I recently traveled to West Lafayette, Indiana, for the Presbyterian youth gathering Triennium. I got into my rental car and with faith in the wondrous powers of the GPS headed to Indiana. I immediately questioned the first direction the GPS told me but decided to believe in the mythical power of technology for knowing things that I don’t know. What I didn’t know is that my summer staffer’s phone was set to avoid tolls and highways. What should have been a two-hour drive was about to be four. It took longer than I would like to admit, to discover all the complications to our GPS guide. But it didn’t take us four hours to get to Purdue. It was, regardless, quite the adventure, and my faith in GPS and my summer staffer as navigator were diminished. But it was that same GPS that rerouted us back to the Interstate once we got the setting appropriately adjusted. Clearly my faith wasn’t too damaged.

As I read this psalm, I am reminded of all the twists and turns of the Israelites’ journey to the Promised Land. Their faith in God is tested: even though the Israelites have witnessed great miracles, they have also experienced great hardships. The psalmist is crying out to God for help believing only God is capable of delivering the people from their hardships. It makes me reflect on my own “promised land” and how God is guiding me through the joys and sorrows to a greater purpose.

God, help me to have clarity of purpose. Guide me down the path towards my own promised land, and give me patience and understanding through all the twists and turns as you lead me to greater things. Amen.

Written by Katie Patterson, Director of Urban Youth Mission

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