God, examine me and know my heart, test me and know my concerns. Make sue that I am not on my way to ruin, and guide me on the road to eternity. Psalm 139:23,24 (New Jerusalem Bible)
Western Christians are already into the first week. Orthodox brothers and sisters will begin Wednesday. The Lenten season is our time of fasting, reflection, and self-examination. Too often, modern society acts as if such soul-searching isn’t that important or only needs to be done when we hit a time of crisis. When the spouse or parent has abused to a point of causing injury or the addict has hit “rock bottom.” We know from an old saying, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” I offer to you this morning that if we make self-examination a part of who we are, much of our self-inflicted sorrows can be better managed if not avoided all together.
David calls upon the Lord to search his heart and thoughts. He understands that the Holy One made his very inward parts in the most inward places so that nothing about him is unknown to him. There is no place the king of Israel can go, from the heights of heaven and the mountains to the depths of hell and the sea, that God is not there. Recognition of the Almighty and All-knowing puts our lives in proper perspective. Even if we can fool and hide from our fellows, we cannot do such things with him. Thus we are called to be careful of our thoughts and actions.
David is also expressive of his hate of the wicked. He prays for divine wrath against them and counts himself on the side of God. But, he concludes the Psalm asking that he would be searched by the Holy One to insure that he is walking on the Holy Path. It would be shameful to pray an end to evil doers and he would find himself among them. By this seeking of self-examination, it is said of David that he was a man after God’s own heart and did what was right before God and followed all of his commandments, except in the matter of Uriah the Hittite. No, the king was not perfect. But, his imperfection was greatly limited.
If you are of a faith that does not observe Lent (as we Baptist do not have it in our doctrine), I recommend you consider the practice. Designate time during the day to focus on the Lord searching your heart and thoughts. Practice self-discipline to deny yourself access to something that you normally indulge in. After Lent is over, make self-examination a part of who you are so that the Lord can guide you to his kingdom.
Your Brother In Christ,
Order of Saint-Simon of Cyrene