Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Lenten Reflection for February 19, 2013

By your hand save me from such people, Lord, from those of this world whose reward is in this life. May what you have stored up for the wicked fill their bellies; may their children gorge themselves on it, and may there be leftovers for their little ones.

As for me, I will be vindicated and will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness. (Psalm 17:14-15)

I once created for myself a vision of what I considered to be my deepest values. I imagined standing out on the sidewalk in front of my house, watching it burn to the ground. In it were all the earthly things that I thought had sustained me: Insurance policies, savings, property, and so on. In my vision the fire took all these things away forever.

Next to me were my wife, my daughters, and our dog. I had my arms around them all and satisfied myself in knowing that this was enough for me. Everything could burn, as long as I had my loved ones with me. I was very satisfied with my vision, and I congratulated myself for my values.

A few days later the image I had self-created popped into my head, but this time it was involuntary. It was the same scene, but this time I was standing on the sidewalk alone. I sensed God saying to me: What if you lose it all? Am I enough for you?

I wasn’t sure I could answer the question. At least, I didn’t want to.

The psalmist is happy to leave his enemies to their appetites. Let them have it all, no matter the bitter taste it will leave in the mouth of generations to come. For the psalmist, seeing the likeness of God is satisfaction enough.

I know people who have lost a great deal—spouses, children, businesses, life savings—and have somehow moved on, even giving testimony to God’s faithfulness to them during their time of trouble and in the aftermath of loss and grief. I have not suffered such losses. I don’t know how I would respond under the circumstances of tragedy. I don’t know what it would be like, in the midst of such deep anguish, to be content in God and his love.

I hope that I would find satisfaction in seeing his likeness, leaving all other forms of contentment to those who would have them.

I hope that I would do that. God help me.

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