February 23

Psalm 95; Psalm 40; Psalm 54; Psalm 51; Genesis 40:1-23;
1 Corinthians 3:16-23
; Mark 2:13-22

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and sustain in me a willing spirit. Psalm 51:6, 10-12

With all the political turmoil, mass violence, personal atrocities at every level that we are bombarded with on a daily basis these days, these verses struck me as a particularly timely reminder of where our focus should and must be, especially as we traverse this holy period of Lent. It is easy to lose oneself in the injustices of the world today, both here in our country and abroad, and as anger and heartbreak and hurt wells within us, we can become divided from our true selves as God’s creation, and lose our focus on the wonderful, positive, beautiful aspects of our lives that are still there.

No, we are not commanded to be fake in our faith. We are not to justify negativity with our faith. We are not to spend our lives in pain and sorrow. In the deepest truth of our faith, we ask the Lord for wisdom, a clean heart, to be in His presence, and to live in the joy of salvation, and we ask for the willing spirit to sustain us in our striving.

It is incredibly difficult not to react with anger and resentment as turmoil flails around us at every turn – I am certainly no exception. But if we can just take a deep breath, close our eyes for a minute and turn to meaningful scripture and conversation with God, we can approach that wisdom in our secret hearts, cleanse our minds, and restore joy. Thus strengthened, we can take our willing spirit to work for good in the world, even in small part. If each of us wages peace and joy with the same energy we react negatively to awfulness, that tiny wave of positivity can grow till it overwhelms all but our right spirit. I pray that for each of us, we can attain that clean heart, that right and willing spirit, so that on Easter we can truly know God’s salvation in the rising of His son.