My Rock and my Fortress
Since You are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of Your name lead and guide me. [Psalm 31:3]
I used to keep a journal regularly, but I’m not so regular about it currently. But I do check in with my journal each year on Ash Wednesday to record my feelings and my situation upon entering Lent that year; and I look back on other years... One entry is so remarkable that I return to read it every year on Ash Wednesday.
I was a part of a six-person group on a Habitat for Humanity trip at Catemaco in southern Mexico. The terrain was very rough. The people were very poor. That day we were to move rocks with a wheelbarrow and dump them into a ditch that, working with the local people, we had helped dig the day before. When the cement was poured, it would form the foundation of a house.
Before leaving our quarters to ride the pick-up truck to the working site, our small team began each day with a simple devotional reading chosen in turn by each of the six of us. My reading for that day came from my regular devotional book, “A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants.” One of the readings for the First week in Lent was from “’The Saviors of God” by Nikos Kazantzakis. The image is powerful and meant a lot to each of us that day, and it still stirs my heart today. I share a part of it with you so that you too may perhaps be stirred by its words.
“The Cry within me is a call to arms. It shouts ‘I, the Cry within you, am The Lord Your God…Hold courageously the passes which I entrusted to you; do not betray them. You act heroically by remaining at your own battle station. Love danger! What is most difficult? That is what I want! Which road should you take? The most craggy ascent! It is the one I also take. Follow me!...
“My Prayer is not the whimpering of a beggar nor a confession of love. Nor is it the trivial reckoning of a small tradesman: Give me and I shall give you.
My Prayer is the report of a soldier to the General. This is what I did today, this is how I fought to save the entire battle in my own sector, these are the obstacles I found, this is how I plan to fight tomorrow.
My God and I are horsemen galloping in the burning sun or under drizzling rain. Pale, starving but unsubdued, we ride and converse.
‘Leader!’ I cry. He turns his face towards me, and I shudder to confront his anguish.
Our love for each other is rough and ready, we sit at the same table, we drink the same wine in this low tavern of life.”
Obviously, this is not a traditional reading for Lent, it calls us to ride with our Savior through the craggy ascent that is the contemporary world in which we are called to serve, it is a reminder of his powerful leadership going before us.
I pray that during this most somber and unusual Lenten season that you and I will be humbly and courageously open to Christ’s leading.