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Living Words

A Lent Reflection for Friday, March 22 by Rev. Julia Styles


Lectionary reading for 3/22/24: Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29; Jeremiah 33:10-16; Mark 10:32-34, 46-52

Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 118:1-4


Read

Psalm 118: 1-4

1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.

2 Let Israel say:“His love endures forever.”

3 Let the house of Aaron say:“His love endures forever.”

4 Let those who fear the Lord say:“His love endures forever.”...



Reflect

Have you ever woken up in the middle of the night, unable to go back to sleep? As you lay in your bed, eyes open with nothing to do, negative thoughts invade your brain. Insecurity, shame, regret, and worry grow increasingly louder, and there doesn’t seem to be anything you can do to stop the spiral of negativity. 


Sometimes these late-night thoughts still plague me, and I often disrupt them by mindlessly scrolling through social media or reading a novel on my kindle app (which sometimes works). But 20 years ago, smartphones didn’t exist, nor wi-fi for that matter, so on one particular sleepless night, plagued by thoughts of self-doubt and shame, I turned to my Bible, flipping through the pages, opening towards the middle. I landed on Psalm 118, and started reading…Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever…and then again, His love endures forever, God’s love endures forever, Their love endures forever, Her love endures forever.


On that dark night, the Holy Spirit met me in my weakness, vulnerability and shame, and reminded me that God’s love defeats the enemies around me and the enemies within me. Despite the trials of the psalmist, despite the trials of the reader (me), God’s love is steadfast; it endures, it overcomes, it supersedes, it covers, it protects, it provides, it saves. 


Scripture has historical context but it can also minister to us personally in the here and now. That’s why scripture is often referred to as the living word of God. Twenty years ago, Psalm 118 was a living word that touched me to the core and has never left me. It’s a word of truth I know I can turn to, whenever lies about myself try creeping in. I can remind myself that the love of God endures forever.


As you experience setbacks, pain or loneliness, when words of destruction try to harm you, I pray that you are able to recall those living words that hit you at the core and remind you that you are a beloved child of God and God’s love endures forever. 



Respond

Do you have key bible verses that you turn to in times of trouble or despair? What living words or truths do you recall when you need to be reminded of your identity as a child of God? 

Take some time to write down the scripture verses or personal stories that remind you that you are beloved.



Rest

Take a few moments to practice a breath prayer using Psalm 118:1. Breathe in and out, with the first part of your prayer coming to mind on the inward breath and the latter half connecting with the outward breath. Continue your prayer for a set period of time or until you feel you have reached a sense of inner stillness as you dwell in the presence of God.



Give thanks to the Lord,  Breathe in

for he is good;  Breathe out

God’s love endures forever. Breathe in

Give thanks to the Lord,  Breathe out

for he is good;  Breathe in

God’s love endures forever. Breathe out


About the Author



Julia Styles lives in Atlanta, Georgia. She is a wife, a mom of two littles (2 & 5), and a step-mom of two young adults (18 & 20). She is passionate about connecting with other moms in her neighborhood and amplifying the voices of women in Christian spaces. In her free time she edits Prayerful Reflections, co-chairs the Federation of Christian Ministries annual conference, and provides spiritual direction and coaching for clergy, seminary students and those re-examining their faith. You can book a free intro session at www.spiritualdirectionwithjulia.com 





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