Yesterday I mentioned The Bible in One Year as a great resource to help us go deeper into God And into ourselves during this time. Today (of course, because God works like that…) the readings seemed to make a lot of sense for me at this time. So, let me share them with you.
The OT reading was Numbers 27 v.12-29 v.11. Numbers doesn’t look like the sort of place to go for spiritual stimulus, does it, but wait a minute and dig deep. The end of Numbers 27 is about the appointment of Joshua as Moses’ successor and that reminded me that we need to pray for leaders in this extraordinary situation, that they may have that ‘spirit of leadership’ that v.18 speaks of. Chs 28 & 29 are about sacrifices, which may seem quite obscure, but show us that, for OT people, sacrifices were not just for special feast days, but for every day (28 vv.3-5). The NT might turn that idea round and challenge us to see every day as a gift from God to be given back to him as a ‘living sacrifice’ (Rom 12 vv.1-2). Time is transformed when it is offered back to God.
Much more familiar territory came along in the NT Reading, the Parable of the Sower in Lk 8. That reminded me that God is the God who gives growth, but growth takes time and ‘perseverance’ (v.15). Only Luke includes those words ‘by persevering’ – interesting that that comes up today…I’m sure we are all praying for perseverance through this time, but is it the ‘hang on for grim death’ type of perseverance, or the perseverance that creates the conditions for growth?
And then the Psalm, and that, like all the Psalms, offers us a prayer that we can make our own. It’s not an easy prayer, it’s a lament, a painful prayer that feels like the prayer of someone who is isolated. Here it is in full so that we can make it our own:
Psalm 38 vv.13-22
I am like the deaf, who cannot hear, like the mute, who cannot speak; 14 I have become like one who does not hear, whose mouth can offer no reply. 15 Lord, I wait for you; you will answer, Lord my God. 16 For I said, ‘Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my feet slip.’
17 For I am about to fall, and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity; I am troubled by my sin. 19 Many have become my enemies without cause; those who hate me without reason are numerous. 20 Those who repay my good with evil lodge accusations against me, though I seek only to do what is good.
21 Lord, do not forsake me; do not be far from me, my God. 22 Come quickly to help me, my Lord and my Saviour. AMEN!