March 18

“Search me, O God . . .”

Scripture: Psalm 139: 23-24

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
       test me and know my thoughts.

 24 See if there is any wicked way in me,
       and lead me in the way everlasting.

Reader: This is the word of the Lord.   Response: Thanks be to God.

Some thoughts:
In the early days of the Church, this season was a final time of preparation for the catechumens, those who had been studying the Christian faith. Their baptisms happened at the Easter Vigil on Saturday night right before Easter Sunday. Often this process of joining the faith community took several years of preparation as those being baptized learned of the faith. There was much self-examination occurring during these final six weeks both by the individual and by the church. The last verses of this psalm are most apropos. Periodic “soul searching” is good. In a world where we are so busy and consumed with the day to day activity and pressures, taking time to stop and look into our own hearts is essential.

David picked up this theme of self-examination in the final verses of this psalm. He  concludes with the kind of transparency that resulted in God saying of David, “He is a man after my own heart.” Could that be said about you? David was more interested in God’s perspective of David’s life than he was in justifying himself before the Lord. David stepped outside of himself and gave God free rein to look into every nook and cranny of his life, as did those who were being baptized. One of the characteristics of maturity is the ability to “step outside of our person” and see ourselves objectively. In this case, stepping outside of ourselves involves asking God to search the inmost recesses of our hearts and reveal to us any wickedness he finds. Trust me, he will find things you and I need to repent of. Can we live with a consistent transparency toward God? David has given us a marvelous daily prayer for the Lenten season in these verses.

Music: “Search Me, O God”  by Jonny Priano Grove City Touring Choir

Hymn  “O for a Closer Walk with God”                        William Cowper, 1731-1800

O for a closer walk with God, a calm and heavenly frame                                                              A light to shine upon the road that leads me to the Lamb! The dearest idol I have known, what-e’er that idol be                                                                         Help me to tear it from thy throne, and worship only thee.

Prayer: O Lord, the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it, that you may enter in. It is ruinous, O repair it! It displeases your sight; I confess it, I know. But who shall cleanse it, to whom shall I cry but to you? Cleanse me from my secret faults, O Lord, and spare your servant from strange sins.
–St. Augustine, 354-430 AD

Additional Reading: My Heart Christ’s Home by Bob Munger
―an old-time classic