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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, July 16, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  Psalm 139:1–12, 23–24

O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.
See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. (NRSV)

The summer of 1979 was long and hot in Minneapolis. It was also a summer of great distress in my life. When a friend suggested I seek spiritual direction I found my way to a Catholic retreat center called the Cenacle, where I met Sister Dorothy. I would drive thirty minutes from home on Friday mornings and we would talk together in her small office where I could see a flower garden through the window. We talked about my life and the things that were upsetting to me, and for the first time I felt like someone heard me and validated my feelings.

That summer Sister Dorothy taught me how to pray with scripture. While I did own a Bible, I had not looked at it for a long time. The first piece she asked me to explore was Psalm 139. She asked me to read it over and over again and put myself into the words as though they were being spoken directly to me. At home during the next few days I did as she asked. Slowly it dawned on me: God loves me unconditionally. I started to see this had been true forever. As I continued to read the psalm, the words became part of me, and I felt the power of scripture even though it had been written so long ago.

While verses 1–12 explain just how unconditional God’s love for me is, it is the words in verse 13 that have stayed with me all this time: “For you created my inmost being; you knitted me together . . . I was woven together in the depths of the earth.” I return to this psalm often for reassurance whenever I feel anxious. God’s love for each of us is everlasting.

Loving Creator, hold me close and keep your hand upon me, especially now in times of darkness. Lift me up on the wings of dawn, for darkness is as light to you. Amen.

Written by Elise Magers, Assistant Director, Replogle Center for Counseling and Well-Being

Reflection and Prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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