A Psalm of Ascents -
One of 16 psalms written to be sung as the people of God made their trek to Jerusalem and the Temple
"My Soul Waits for the Lord Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord! O Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy! If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, Therefore you are feared. I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than the watchmen wait for the morning, O Israel, put your hope in the Lord! For with the Lord is unfailing love, and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins."
Before we go on a trip – say a family vacation – we plan, prepare, figure out our route, where we will spend the night on the way, what we will do when we get there, who we will see. In that preparation there is also anticipation. We look forward to being with the people, seeing the site, experiencing our destination. The Christian season of Lent is the 40 days (except Sundays) prior to Easter. The idea at the heart of Lent is the same – preparation, anticipation, looking forward, making space for hoping and looking forward so that we can enjoy our destination more fully and freely.
For a lot of people Lent is marked by “giving up something“ which is another way of saying fasting. Spiritual idea of fasting is to deny ourselves something (usually food) to heighten our awareness of something else. Physical hunger in my belly reminds me of the spiritual hunger in my soul. Saying no to a desire for one thing makes me more conscious of deeper desire for something better. It points us to the deeper reality that all of our hungers, appetites, desires are ultimately, really for God.
In Psalm 130 there are 5 “wait”s and 2 “hope”s. Both of those words are forward leaning words - they call us to attention and anticipation. I, personally, am not really a fan of waiting. I’m not sure that many of us are.
We live in such a get it now era that it’s really hard for us not to expect that from God. But when we give ourselves to waiting, to anticipating, to preparing – something deep and rich and beautiful begins to happen. And Lent would seem to tell us that that leads to resurrection and life as, in Jesus, “He Himself ” redeems!
Good Father, teach us to wait, to hope. Give us space in our calendar and in our souls for preparation and anticipation and longing and hunger...for You. Could we cry to you out of the depths of our desire for you or the depths of our despair. Have mercy on us, forgive us...for our impatience, for our lack of hunger for You. Teach us and show us what it means to wait, to long for, to anticipate You and the new life you offer us.
Over the next few weeks that lead up to Easter is there something you can DO, some (even small) step you can take to enter the waiting, the anticipation and preparation? Maybe take a “fast” from something and turn that hunger into prayer.