by Dena Hobbs
Scripture: Psalm 27 (NRSV)
“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?
When evildoers assail me to devour our flesh – my adversaries and foes – they shall stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.
One thing I asked of the LORD, that I will 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 into 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.”
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?” -Psalm 27:1
By the time we read this passage in our church communities we will already be well on our way through the journey of the season of Lent. Perhaps your family took up a Lenten discipline. To give something up. To take something on. Perhaps you already find yourself struggling with these efforts.
Though I love the season of Lent, I find it sometimes plays into my worst tendencies theologically. Tendencies to think I am not good enough and need to be punished. Tendencies to think I am a low sinner not worthy of grace. These statements may or may not be true. But more to the point, I have begun to think Lenten disciplines as less a means of stripping away my faults and more as a means of drawing me closer to Christ.
The issue is not really “What’s wrong with me that needs to be purged?” but “What is separating me from enjoying the fullness of Christ’s love and grace?” The answers to the second question are things we might consider letting go of for the season of Lent.
I don’t know what that answer to “What is keeping me from enjoying the fullness of Christ’s love and grace?” is for you, but for me the answer if often fear. I was a fearful child and I am often a fearful adult. When all I can see is my fear, it becomes harder and harder to see God’s grace.
This is why Psalm 27 is such a balm. It reminds us that fear has no hold over us. Instead God has hold of us and that is a good thing. Our God is one who helps us face the bullies, be strong in the face of hardships, and at the end of the day welcomes us into the safety of God’s own home to rest and be restored.
Our God loves and cares for us so much God will cover us with God’s own tent. I don’t know about you but things brings up images of myself as a scared child hiding behind my mother’s skirts. This image of God covering us makes me imagine God saying, “Well, if its so scary out there I’ll just lift up my skirts and you can hide under here for a while. I’m pretty big. They won’t find you in there.”
Whatever your fears are, know that God is with you. God will not let you face them alone or unprotected. God’s grace covers all. That is enough to make us want to shout with joy!
Questions to Spark Discussion
What are you afraid of?
Do you struggle with bullies or difficulties?
How does God help you face these hard things?
How could the knowledge of God’s protective presence make your fears seem less scary?
How can we be drawn less into fear and more into God’s covering love?
Make a list of your fears and difficulties. Create a makeshift tent out of fabric or paper. Place all your struggles inside of God’s tent, knowing they are covered by the Almighty and Everlasting God. Take a big, deep breath and see if you can release the fear a little and rest more in God’s care.
O Mighty God, we are so often afraid.
We thank you for knowing us, knowing our fears, and loving us anyway.
Have compassion on us in our fear, Merciful God.
Shine your light on the scary places
and help us to know that you have us always
in your big, strong, loving hands. Amen.