Fifth Sunday After Epiphany: The Gospel Passage – Jesus Christ lays down “the law”

This week we have another feast day, or celebration day, in the life of the liturgical church – the Presentation of the Lord. It comes later this week; but I wanted to ground us in the ministry of Jesus and his teachings, as opposed to his presentation in the temple as an infant which is what the Presentation of the Lord day is. Consider, the words that the writer of the gospel of Matthew records came from the Jesus who was presented in the temple as an infant, and was nurtured in the faith of his parents and the Jewish people. Jesus is his teachings exemplified the best of the Jewish faith, but also reflected the wisdom that was the Lord God. It is important, then, to pay heed to what Jesus says.

“You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.” (Matthew 5:13)

Jesus did not use theological rhetoric or philosophical illusions, but used common analogies and metaphors that were simple to understand – mostly. Salt is no good if it is no longer salty. If you have a purpose or are called to a task, do not set it aside or forget to attend to it. Hold tight to the call you have received and the good that is within you.

“You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hid.” (Verse 14)

I am finding these truths to be so basic, and so woven into Christian understanding that it is hard to explain them any other way. We are believers in Christ have been called to a life that is noticed. And it will be noticed. Don’t try to hide that light that Christ and our Lord God has placed in you!

“No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.” (Verses 15 – 16)

I like to think that these sort of principles were in Jewish life; that the Jews of Jesus’ time believed in the same things – letting the light of God shine through them and retaining the good that their God had called them to. But we know from what Jesus said about some of the Jewish officials and religious leaders that they did not “shine” according to Jesus’ estimation.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished.” (Verses 17 – 18)

One may ask, does that apply to us too? Judaism has a lot of laws to it; laws that govern every day living and special occasions. But I think the law the Jesus was speaking of was the basic laws and understandings that God set down. Not the dietary laws, or the laws about clothing or even the laws about who can do what in the temple or synagogue. The laws that govern how we treat others, think about others, and relate to others – it is those laws that must and will be accomplished.

“Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” (Verse 19)

Now, if the everyday commonplace laws were meant to insure the well-being and harmony of the community and humanity, then those laws – even the fiddly little laws – are important.

“For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Verse 20)

Does this mean that the scribes and Pharisees that Jesus called “vipers” are to be emulated? No. But their insistence on adhering to the laws, the laws that we would call the “laws of love”, those must be adhered to with all the diligence of any pompous Jewish temple officia1!

May you, beloved reader, take the laws that convey love, care, compassion, grace, mercy, and forgiveness into your heart and soul that you shine for the Lord! Selah!

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany: The Psalms Passage – Preacher and Seeker speak plainly about righteous living

Preacher: “O LORD, who may abide in your tent? Who may dwell on your holy hill?”

Seeker: Maybe the question should be, who can find safety and refuge with the Lord? It seems like everywhere one turns today there is trouble, upsetting issues, and challenges to living simply. To hear some talk, one would believe that better times are coming. But others say we are plunging into more problems than we can ever deal with. Of course, that sort of rhetoric had been going on for generations. Promises for better times are made over and over. Sometimes it comes true, and sometimes it does not. Seems to me it those who would be worthy of dwelling with the Lord are the ones who we can believe the promises of. So the question remains, who can expect and who deserves to live in eternity with our Lord?

Preacher: “Those who walk blamelessly, and do what is right, and speak the truth from their heart;”

Seeker: In other words, those who already follow the Lord. Or say they follow the Lord. So, how can we know who are true followers of the Lord?

Preacher: “[Those] . . .who do not slander with their tongue, and do no evil to their friends, nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;”

Seeker: Now we are narrowing it down! What other qualifications does it take?

Preacher: “ . . . in whose eyes the wicked are despised, but who honor those who fear the LORD; who stand by their oath even to their hurt;”

Seeker: It takes strong resolve and a strong conscience and will to hold to those things!
Those are indeed signs and hallmarks of called and chosen people of the Lord! Say more!

Preacher: “ . . . who do not lend money at interest, and do not take a bribe against the innocent.”

Seeker: But, those who are such people are among us – which is good! Does that mean that it is not time yet to enter and live in the dwelling place of the Lord? That it is not time yet to go to the Lord’s holy hill? I suppose not. We, the good and the bad and those in-between, we still live and dwell together. And are faced with temptations; our fallen world threatens to undermine even the best of us. How will they survive? How will we survive?!

Preacher: “Those who do these things shall never be moved.” (Psalm 15)

Seeker: That is the true test, isn’t it? Not living blameless and perfectly lives living in the tent of the Lord. But living authentic and honest Christian lives in this fallen world. Let us look closely, and discern according to the word of the Lord who is worthy for the tent’s of the Lord, and our Lord God’s holy hill! Selah!

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany: The Epistle Passage – To turn left or right, or go straight ahead?

For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” (I Corinthians 1:18 – 19)

Decisions. How does one decide the best course of action? It is an open question beloved reader, not tied to any one type of decision or discernment. How do you know what you should do? Of course maybe the writer of I Corinthians (Paul) did not mean decision making or making wise choices. Maybe exhortation was limited only to what one should put their faith in – that is, the Lord God as revealed to Abraham, attested to by the prophets and the one whom Christ Jesus pointed to . . . as opposed to any other god, small letter “g”. But then, one reads on . . .

“Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.” (Verses 20 – 21)

And I am back to wondering, what did Paul mean? Salvation or wise decision-making? Or, am I making this too complicated?

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks desire wisdom, but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” (Verses 22 – 24)

Is Paul just talking about faith issues, spirituality and in general terms living wisely in light of the Lord God? And maybe any other decisions, other than whether to follow God or some other god for one’s over life philosophy, is not covered by the “foolishness” that is the cross versus the “wisdom” of non-belief.

“For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength. Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth.” (Verses 25 – 26)

However, our faith and belief should inform our lives, guide and direct our thoughts and actions. May not in minute prescriptive ways, but what we value and work for, and how we treat others.

“But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God.” (Verses 27 – 29)

Verse 29 I understand – we are NOT to say “I have done such and such a thing because I am wise and powerful! I am wondrous!” No, what we are to say is that “God has me to work out what is best for myself and others. God is wondrous!”

He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, in order that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (Verses 30 – 31)

However this does not answer all the burning/nagging questions of life. What it does do is encourage and instruct us to seek out God’s wisdom and guidance. To look deep within ourselves as we look up to the Lord God, hoping and praying that we discern God’s “foolish” wisdom correctly. May you, gentle reader, allow yourself to be “foolish” in order to follow God’s wisdom. Selah!


Fourth Sunday After Epiphany: The Old Testament Passage – Micah explains the relationship to God in basic terms

Hear what the LORD says: Rise, plead your case before the mountains, and let the hills hear your voice. Hear, you mountains, the controversy of the LORD, and you enduring foundations of the earth; for the LORD has a controversy with his people, and he will contend with Israel.” (Micah 6:1 – 2)

The prophet Micah has some reluctance and hesitancy about telling the people of Israel the complaints and judgments the Lord has against them. But it is not a thundering vengeful Lord that speaks, but a Lord and God who wonders what has gone wrong between the Divine and the chosen people. The Lord reminds them, through Micah, what the Divine has tried to do for them, and the Lord has supported them and under girded them.

“O my people, what have I done to you? In what have I wearied you? Answer me! For I brought you up from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you from the house of slavery; and I sent before you Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. O my people, remember now what King Balak of Moab devised, what Balaam son of Beor answered him, and what happened from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the saving acts of the LORD.” (Verses 3 – 5)

The question comes to Micah, how should the Lord God be approached in order that the relationship might be salvaged and saved? Or perhaps it is Micah asking on behalf of the people of God.

“With what shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?” (Verses 6 – 7)

The question is asked often, when needing to confess and do penance – throwback, if you will, to the them of last year. Or perhaps, in keeping with the theme of this year coming to new faith, one might ask how to show new devotion and faith to the Lord. The answer is often seen on posters and t-shirts.

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (Verse 8)

The simple nature of the requirement does not make it any less profound. The Lord does not require large and showy sacrifice, but simply to have God and God’s tenets in one’s heart and spirit, and walk daily with Lord. Selah!

Fourth Sunday After Epiphany: The Gospel Passage – Practicing what is preached and taught

“When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him.” ( Matthew 5:1)

I am getting an early start on writing/posting today. I am glad for the opportunity to write earlier in the day when I feel fresher. There is a great deal to be said about ending the day pondering and writing on scripture. It is a pattern that I have enjoyed for many years.

Patterns of behavior are important, and once learned serve to guide our days and nights. It is important, however, to learn right and good patterns. Patterns of behavior that support and heal humanity & creation. Patterns and ways of thinking & relating to humanity and creation. Many religions and faith traditions have such patterns. Many are close to or draw from Christianity. Others, while not in that stream of tradition, seem to parallel Christianity’s attitudes and intents. There is something basic yet universal in the way the finest and purest of Christianity’s intents.

“Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.” (Verses 2 – 7)

These are not, beloved reader, attributes that people just happen to have or express without plan or forethought. These are attitudes and attributes that are learned and nurtured. Yes, as Jesus taught them they have rewards. But not rewards that are fully realized in this life.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Verses 8 to 12)

At least not for our personal selves. But the result of our living in this way makes the world better for others. And that is what the beatitudes are really about – living for others. We do gain though; not in tangible ways, and not in the “way of the world.” The way we live – being compassionate, caring, comforting, meek, working for justice & righteousness, pure, and peaceful – makes the world we inhabit one step closer to heaven. What we practice, the pattern of living we follow – matters. It matters very much! Selah!

Third Sunday After Epiphany: The Psalm Passage – Dealing with fear

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The
Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)

Fear. It takes different forms. Sometimes love of the Lord is talked about as fear of the Lord, being in awe of the Lord and holding a reverent attitude. But I do not think that is what is meant by the psalmist here. Fear can also be quaking back in terror, as if someone is confronted by a wild beast or monster – think scary movie. But fear can also be inner fear, anxiety and panic. While the psalmist may not have had that type of fear in mind, it is the type of “fear” that comes to my mind.

And so I ask myself, why should I be fearful and panicky about anything? Why should anybody, if the Lord as the light and salvation and as a stronghold is there to banish fear. I shouldn’t fear than, should I? No one should. But fear is in the world. There are things we are afraid of.

It’s not that these fearful things are so much stronger and more powerful; but they are tangible, and the Lord – for all the Lordly power there – is transcendent. And when we rely only on our human sense, you can figure out what we are more aware of. That is why I appreciate the verses that follow.

One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.” (Verses 4 – 5)

We world we live in has things that are fearful, and that we are afraid of. It is an unavoidable fact. But if we live with the Lord, abiding with the Lord’s presence, we can see the fearful things but not let them cause us fear. The Lord will protect us from the fearful things, so that the important essence of us cannot be harmed.

Now, that may be “pie in the sky by and by.” And I admit that if confronted by a wild thing or physical danger, I may still “shake in my boots.” And I also admit that anxiety and panic may still overtake me. But having the Lord within me and sustaining me, I think I may just survive.

Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me,
and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make melody to the Lord.” (Verse 6)

And I really do not think the psalmist is immune to fear, but like me wraps around him belief in the Lord, and trust that the Lord will be a sustaining presence.

Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud, be gracious to me and answer me!
“Come,” my heart says, “seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, do I seek.
Do not hide your face from me.

Do not turn your servant away in anger, you who have been my help.
Do not cast me off, do not forsake me,
O God of my salvation!” (Verses 7 – 9)

 
Is that what it feels like to be “in fear”? Feeling like the Lord has forsaken you? Let us not confuse then, fear for unbelief. One can believe in the Lord, and still be afraid of things. One can not believe in the Lord and have no fears. But to go through this world without belief in the Lord to sustain the heart and soul? That would be scary!

Third Sunday After Epiphany: The Gospel Passage – Family Counts!

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: “Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:12 – 16)

The writer of Matthew assumes, in line with biblical commentators throughout commentating history, that this was done EXPRESSLY to fulfill prophecy. And I would be hesitant to say they are completely wrong – either in Jesus’ purpose or the prophecy being fulfilled. I just want to put forth a different idea.

“From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” (Verse 17)

If that sounds a lot like John the Baptist, I do not think it is a coincidence. John while being a prophet and a baptizer unsettling and upsetting the status quo, was also a relative to Jesus. It is assumed that at John’s arrest Jesus’ ministry moved into its second stage. That Jesus moved from where he was to other places, for maybe several reasons. And if that is the case, then why did the writer of Matthew not make that more apparent? Yes, Jesus started “recruiting disciples” . . .

“As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.” (Verses 18 – 23)

There was something charismatic about his presence and his words. Other leaders, prophets, and movers-and-shakers have tried to emulate that. Evangelists and preachers hope, pray, and practice to be as moving and convincing as Jesus was. Everyone who follows Jesus tries to be as he was, in all actions, words, and attitudes. Jesus was, however, a hard act to follow1

“Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.” (Verse 23)

But what went through mind as I read verse 17, “From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” was that from the time was imprisoned, Jesus carried forth his beloved relative’s cause. Yes, it was also Jesus’ message too. And the message of God. But when a beloved relative can no longer function, it is not unusual for someone in the family to carry forth in their name. I just thought it was a good thing to remember in this fractured world we live in, that family should stick together! May you, beloved reader, as a beloved member of the family of God do so! Selah!

Third Sunday After Epiphany: The Epistles Passage – Inspiration and Authority where it should be

Now I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you be in agreement and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same purpose.” (I Corinthians 1:10)

You probably haven’t notice beloved reader, I have been absent the past couple of days – one of the advantages of working ahead. I was down with a cold and not feeling well enough to write. I am on the mend now, thankfully, and so am trying to catch up with the writing. It is not an onerous task but a nice way to spend the next couple of evenings, contemplating scripture and writing to all of us.

The writer of I Corinthians (Paul) also liked to sit and write to the people near and dear to him. But the task was not always as pleasant as I find mine tonight. That is, Paul has some scolding to do at the believers in Corinth.

“For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there are quarrels among you, my brothers and sisters. What I mean is that each of you says, “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas,” or “I belong to Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name.” (Verses 11 to 15)

In light of the theology that Paul as put forth in his other letters: that all believers are part of the body of Christ – each with their own function; that no one part is more or less important than the other; that the gospel is for all people equally; and that Christ died for everyone. You can understand why divisions in what should be unity would upset him. And that believers would look to Paul as the end authority rather than God and Jesus Christ would particularly upset him. (In light of that I have to wonder how Paul would feel about his letters considered as “holy scripture” akin to the words of Christ.)

(I did baptize also the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I do not know whether I baptized anyone else.) For Christ did not send me to baptize but to proclaim the gospel, and not with eloquent wisdom, so that the cross of Christ might not be emptied of its power. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (Verses 16 to 18)

I have to wonder, beloved reader, what would be the impact if I suddenly no longer wrote this blog. Not what would happen to me personally (I have already thought about that, and I might at some later point share that “musing”.) No, I wonder what would happen for all the people who read this blog. In all humbleness and sincerity, I hope nothing. I hope all of you would go on exactly as you are, finding inspiration where it may be, and looking to God and the Lord Jesus Christ for that inspiration. Selah!

Third Sunday After Epiphany: The Old Testament Passage – The remedy for our distress is sent down for us

But there will be no gloom for those who were in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he will make glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.” (Isaiah 9:1)

There will be those bible commentators who will say this also refers to Jesus. And it does point to Jesus, for that is the area where he grew up and ministered. But the ministry of Jesus was not confined to that one place, or what it confined to that one time. (Please note I am leaving alone the who argument that the prophet Isaiah/the writer of Isaiah was writing to the audience of the time! Or at least trying to.)

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined.” (Verse 2)

Because Jesus was for all people and for all times, it does not matter if this passage foretells Jesus, or is comfort for those who read this in the time of the book of Isaiah. We are believers in Jesus Christ and God can take comfort from it to. I know I do.

“You have multiplied the nation, you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as people exult when dividing plunder. For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, you have broken as on the day of Midian.” (Verses 3 – 4)

So we can read this passage and walk forward knowing that never again will we be burdened? Ah, that is the rub beloved reader. (I will identify that “rub” a little further one.) One of the reasons I am so vigilante about not taking verses/passages from the time they were written, and from the people they were written for/to. I know that is not the aim of biblical commentators. But after you read enough of that, you start to feel like you are eavesdropping on a conversation that was not meant for you!

When this passage of the book of Isaiah was written, people were suffering, burdened with weights across their shoulders and opposed! When the Jews (contemporaries of Jesus) read it, they were also burdened and opposed. And when we, as modern believers read it with our troubles and burdens we can take the same good news from it that our spiritual forebearers did before us.

The rub? Belief in God in the time of the writer of Isaiah, belief in God in the time of Jesus, and belief in God and Jesus Christ now – does not exempt us from burdens, weights, and oppression. Yes, the promise comes down to us that God and Christ is with us. But we still live in a world that has problems and strife. The called people of God have problems and strife. That is why we must take these verses to our heart and soul, and use them to mend ourselves with God’s compassion, love and care. Let us do so! Selah!

Second Sunday After Epiphany: The Psalm Passage – Waiting in anticipation

I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the desolate pit, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD.” (Psalm 40:1 – 3)

A psalm of overcoming. But also a psalm of hope, that this would happen. I have been in the pit of desolation, and have cried. And cried out to the Lord. I know I have been heard, because the Lord always hears. And I know I will be lifted out, because the Lord comes to those who call on the Divine. Furthermore, I know that no matter how often I (or anyone else) calls out to the Lord, the Lord will come and minister to us. I know all of these things! But when I am in that pit, it is hard to wait patiently.

“Happy are those who make the LORD their trust, who do not turn to the proud, to those who go astray after false gods.” (Verse 4)

I am not sure I am to “happy” yet. I have been there before, and hope and have faith I will be there again. But right now, being patient takes all of my being.

“You have multiplied, O LORD my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts toward us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted. Sacrifice and offering you do not desire, but you have given me an open ear. Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.” (Verses 5 – 6)

I remember, as I read these verses, 12 years ago I put these verses in my heart as I graduated from seminary. It was a long road culminating in a feeling of accomplishment and peace. I thought I had overcome so much, and now was ready to stride forth with confidence and the Lord’s plan for me laid out before me.

But there were corners, changes, disappointments, and heartaches I had no idea of. And desolate pits too numerous to count. But as I said, with each pit I found myself the Lord lifted me out and set me on firm ground.

I have never regret saying . . .

Then I said, “Here I am; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.” I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; see, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your saving help within my heart, I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation.” (Verses 7 – 10)

This week (and last week too for that matter) I have been quite honest about my struggles. I have tried to be honest too about where and how I have felt the Lord’s presence. I hope I have been clear enough about that. Even though I have felt as if I was in pit after pit, I have never felt that I was alone; the Lord was with me, comforted me, strengthened me. And when I was ready, the Lord lifted me up and set upon the Lord’s path for me.

So I say . . .

“Do not, O LORD, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.” (Verses 11)

Selah!