Our Lenten Journey - Week 1: Self-Examination and Repentance
In Psalm 139, the Psalmist invites us into his consideration of the nearness and persistence of God’s Love. He shares his joy as he recognizes and savors the Love that has surrounded and kept him even before his birth. He delights in this knowledge of Love and is revolted by those who deny or reject this Love. In the tension between Love in the presence of God and the bitterness and hatred of the fallen world, the Psalmist recognizes his own need for examination and discernment. He invites the Holy Spirit to search and try and test his very thoughts and lead him in the way of God.
As we consider our own experience, we may find many of the same things.
- recognize the ways that we have been unaware of or perhaps even tried to avoid the presence of God.
- struggle with the thought of God being present in our greatest joy and our deepest despair.
- find the ways in which we reject our belovedness, our fearfully and wonderfully unique crafting in Love.
- discover the ways we try to achieve or create our own sense of belovedness or worth apart from the Love of God.
- encounter our discouragement or even participation in the hatred and bitterness of the fallen world.
If we are truly honest, speaking the words of invitation, “Search me, O God, and know my heart,” strikes us with some degree of trepidation.
As we begin this journey of self-examination and repentance, consider:
How are you trying to escape or avoid God?
How are you trying to deny God’s love for you?
What might you be trying to hide from God?
Practice - This week let us consider the ways in which this psalm invites us into the practice of the Examen of Consciousness.
Begin by finding a quiet place and reading through Psalm 139.
Become aware of the Presence of God: Consider that God knows and pays loving attention to all of your experience, your standing and your sitting, your work and your rest, your joy and your sorrow. Consider the ways in which you have been aware of this Loving presence. How have you welcomed God? How have you resisted the Love of God?
Become aware of yourself: Consider this Love that created and formed you. Consider the ways in which you are fearfully and wonderfully made. In what ways have you accepted and rejoiced in this Love? In what ways have you tried to find “love” in something other than the Love of God?
Become aware of others:Consider the people that you encountered in your day. In what ways have you encountered the Love of God in them? In what ways were you frustrated? Are there broken and damaged relationships that you would like to lift into the healing presence of God?
Become aware of God's work in you: Invite God to search you and know your heart. How might God be inviting you to healing and transformation? How might God be leading you according to His will?
1 O Lord, you have searched me and known me!
2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.
3 You search out my path and my lying down
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4 Even before a word is on my tongue,
behold, O Lord, you know it altogether.
5 You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is high; I cannot attain it.
7 Where shall I go from your Spirit?
Or where shall I flee from your presence?
8 If I ascend to heaven, you are there!
If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
9 If I take the wings of the morning
and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
10 even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light about me be night,”
12 even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is bright as the day,
for darkness is as light with you.
13 For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18 If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you.
19 Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
20 They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
22 I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting!