Psalm 51: 10-12: 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.
These words from Psalm 51 are very familiar, as we hear them every year in Ash Wednesday services. Throughout the season of Lent, it can be helpful to return to them as we observe our Lenten disciplines.
We live in a time of pointing fingers. It is very easy to look at those with whom we disagree and identify how they are just wrong. We carry our preconceived notions of how the world should be with us wherever we go, and when life inevitably surprises us, it is all too easy to look for someone to blame.
And yet, in this season, followers of Jesus are called, not to focus on others, but to focus on self. We are invited to an inward journey with God, to examine our lives and offer up to God those parts that need healing and restoration. We are invited to remember that “all have sinned and fallen short” and that if we do not allow Jesus to wash our feet, we can have no share in him.
On leaving a monastery, a monk was asked by a passerby, “What do you all do in there?” The monk answered, “We take a few steps. We fall. We get up again. We take a few steps. We fall. We get up again.” This response was the monk’s description of a life dedicated to God in community through prayer, simplicity and acts of service. The forty days of Lent are a time for us each year to assess where we have fallen and ask God to help us get up again.
Our primary task during Lent is not to ask God to fix other people. It is to acknowledge our own deep need for God to heal, forgive and restore us. “Create in me a clean heart, O God” is a prayer for any day, as we ask God to mold us into who we were created to be.
Prayer: 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.