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Lent Readings

Readings Begin February 18

Daily Lent Readings

"He is risen, indeed!" Lent has passed but that doesn't mean the daily readings have to go away. Some of you might be discovering this page for the first time. Others who participated during Lent might find it helpful to revisit a particular reading. For these reasons, we will leave this page up for a while.
We pray that you experience the wonder of interacting with our Savior in a personal, transformative way!
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"A New Light Shining" painting by Youngsung Kim from Havenlight
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Day 26

Into Your Hands I Commit My Spirit
Imagine standing with Jesus, right next to him, in prayer to his Father. Read this passage of praise aloud. As you do so, consider that you are praying along with Jesus, your two voices becoming one as you bless God.  
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and all that is within me,
   bless his holy name!
Bless the LORD, O my soul,
   and forget not all his benefits,
who forgives all your iniquity
   who heals all your diseases, 
who redeems your life from the pit,
   who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good
   so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:1-5)
Psalm 31:1-5, 12-16, 22
?In you, O LORD, do I take refuge;
   let me never be put to shame;
   in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
   rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
   a strong fortress to save me!
For you are my rock and my fortress;
   and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
   for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
   you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. . . .
I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
   I have become like a broken vessel.
For I hear the whispering of many—
   terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
   as they plot to take my life.
But I trust in you, O LORD;
   I say, “You are my God.”
My times are in your hand;
   rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
Make your face shine on your servant;
   save me in your steadfast love!
I had said in my alarm,
   “I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
   when I cried to you for help.
What Is This Psalm About?   
These selections from Psalm 31 reflect once more a soul in distress who cries out to the LORD. The psalmist expresses both urgent present need and gratitude that the help has come, and the heart of the song is his clear affirmation of trust. Among the strongest examples anywhere in Scripture, the faith of the psalmist involves fullout surrender and reliance on the LORD. So by the end of this psalm, he can bear witness to God’s faithfulness and exhort everyone to find courage as they love our saving God. 
What Might This Psalm Have Meant to Jesus?
The Gospels tell the story of Jesus’ death in consistent yet slightly varied ways. It’s not clear which words of Jesus are actually his last. Traditionally, Jesus’ adaptation of Psalm 31:5 is presented as his final words. Luke records, “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46). 
For some, this prayer indicates that Jesus experiences a restoration of his fellowship with his Father. He realizes at the end that the offering of his life as atonement has been accepted. He can die in peace because he feels again the shining pleasure of his Father’s face. 
That may well be. Yet I think there’s great spiritual encouragement from considering that Jesus remains under dereliction all the way through his death. Jesus’ praying of Psalm 31 could be an act of sheer faithfulness which he flings against the wall of the Father’s resolutely turned back. This would mean that facing utter nothingness, with no trace of his Father to be found, Jesus still surrenders himself in fidelity and trust.
In the narrative flow of this psalm, the poet puts himself into God’s hands while he is still seeking a full deliverance. His trust is based on past experience, but he offers that faith before these present difficulties have been resolved. Further on in verses 13-15, Jesus finds words he can ride through despair into trust even if he has little hope of rescue. Right now, on the cross, there is “terror on every side. . . . But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, ‘You are my God.’” It may feel to Jesus as if the Father has disowned him as a son. Yet Jesus resolutely will not give up on his Father. No matter what, the LORD belongs to him as his Father and God. 
Thomas Torrance sees staggering importance in Jesus’ praying Psalm 31 at death. Nothing less than the fate of humanity is at stake! If Jesus fails at the last, we are lost forever. Torrance sees Jesus in that moment finishing his work of bending back the fallen, rebellious human will to the faithfulness originally intended for us. He writes that Jesus, “answered for us to God . . . in his terrible descent into our God-forsakenness . . . he plumbed the deepest depths of our estrangement and antagonism . . . [H]e reconstructed and altered the existence of man, by yielding himself in perfect love and trust to the Father.” Theology in Reconstruction (London: SCM Press, 1965), p. 124. So whereas our first parents sinned in the paradise of Eden, Jesus obeys from the hell of Golgotha. In this way, he fulfilled his mission to be the last Adam, the very remaking of humanity.
Another great theologian, C. S. Lewis, sheds light on this episode for us in his classic The Screwtape Letters. The book imagines an older demon instructing a younger demon about how to ruin human faith. In Letter VIII, Screwtape raises alarm about the power when humans are faithful despite feeling forsaken:
Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys. The Screwtape Letters (London, Geoffrey Bles, 1942), Letter VIII.
Indeed, evil’s cause is lost as Jesus commits his spirit to a God he cannot feel but trusts by sheer will of faith. In his faith he proclaims the unexpected hope in Psalm 49:15, “But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol, for he will receive me.”
Praying with Jesus
I doubt at the least resistance.
In truth, I doubt when there is no resistance!
Amid every blessing from you,
I go seeking my own way.
I take my life out of your hands
And run with it.
So my weak and rebel heart
Gazes in awe at your fidelity, Lord Jesus.
Every kind of agony fell on you.
We coined the word “excruciating”
For the bodily torture of a cross.
We use the word “desolation”
For the empty despair you felt
At being left by the Father
When you needed him most.
You had every reason to curse God and die.
Die you did, but not in anger.
Blind to the everlasting arms underneath
You leapt in faith into hands
That seemed absolutely absent.
And so you did what no human had done.
Gate to gate in fidelity, 
You lived the truly human life. 
You would not let God go,
Even if it felt like he left you.
Shall I not, today,
Entrust myself to such a faithful savior?
Shall I not step boldly into a future I do not know,
Except that it cannot be as dark as your way,
Except that you have traversed all voids,
Weathered every desert, plumbed every abyss
That I might walk companioned,
Oh my Lord and my God!


Posted in: Lent