“But they went on sinning against him, rebelling against the Most High in the desert.”
Sitting down with Lectio Divina for the second time, I came to pray and meditate on this Psalm. Upon reflection, this is what I wrote:
Sin, rebel, desert. These are the three words I keep going back to as I sit and while I find myself attracted to rebel, I can’t help but connect it to sin and desert.
So I think, consider, and ponder “rebel” and what it means: to act against authority. And of course in this case the authority is God Most High. I find myself trying to be the best person I can me, at leas as I know myself to be, and yet know that I often fall short in that often times I do what it is I want to do. For example, I have been watching TV more than I had previously, and often well into the night rather than do my nightly prayer and meditation.
And so I fall short, which brings me to sin. The Greek word for sin literally means “to miss the mark” as in shooting an arrow and missing the bull’s eye. My sins are not necessarily of the vilest kind in regards to hurting others, but I must say my sins most often manifest in my lack of discipline in terms of my prayer and meditation life. Thus I miss the mark and engaging in what I do do, I typically do what I do as an avoidance of fostering my relationship with God as I understand God.
I looked to the Hebrew words which translate to rebel and sin. Rebel includes meanings of “becoming disobedient, bitter, provoke, to be against,” while sin includes meanings of “bear the blame, commit, done wrong, fault, miss.”
No wonder I feel guilty when my, for example, sloth and while I ask for forgiveness and the fortitude toward discipline, I still enact much the same and feel guilty because even thought I tell myself I could be doing something else, like pray, meditate, or chi gong, I do not. Instead of turning toward God, I turn to myself. Is that not rebelling?
Which brings me to “desert,” or in some Bibles, “wilderness,” the Hebrew word for which means “dry, parched, drought, desert.” The image is clear to me, for it is typically when I focus on myself and my baser desires do I experience the lack of connection with my God. I know from experience that the longer I go without fostering that relationship my life itself seems as if it is dry, parched. I become dry. I’ve been a dry drunk and that life is worse than being a wet drunk.
And as I sit there in prayer I see that even thought I don’t go extended periods without seeking to foster that connection, nonetheless I know that in those moments that I succumb to my own desires, it is a means by which to avoid the desert, to give myself, as it were, just a little rain, but in doing so I delude myself in thinking it will work long term. When I should turn to God through prayer and meditation, I turn to myself.
And as I sat there in prayer and feel the Psalm enter my heart, I come to realize that there life is moist, that the desert in is my head and when I stay too long in my head I feel lost in in feeling lost I get scared and when it comes to fear, I most often respond in anger.
But I know the desert, a place of trial and tribulation, is not a bad place per se. A great many traditions grew up in the desert after all. But their’s was a purposeful time in the desert, focused and apart from distractions. Attention and intention directed toward God, not of the things that satisfy simple material/physical pleasures.
So it is in my desert states to I most need to remember to turn toward God as I understand God. And therein did I find myself in conversation, in oratio.
It is hard sometimes, I say.
That is the struggle, I hear.
So naturally I think of jihad, the internal struggle to submit, to surrender, to God.
It’s really quite simple, I hear. You just make it hard on yourself. I can give you what you want.
And what do I want?
I smile and breathe deep that serenity, that peace. I also want an agent, I respond. I see how my life–inside and out–came together for me to write it. And I know everything was there already for me to write it.Not mere coincidence. Thus, for good reason, I dedicated my work to you. And I have faith it can be of benefit to people. And God, I need money to take care of my family.
You’ll get your agent. It may not be on your time, but you’ll get it. You just need to discipline yourself and turn to me.
And so I found myself, at the end of my time with the Psalm, composing this prayer:
God, help me, give me the strength, the willingness, and the wherewithal to turn to you when I am lost in desert wanderings.