For Sunday, March 5, 2017
First Sunday in Lent
Left untended our lives have a tendency to go cattywampus. Psalm 32 is a Lenten invitation to get back into alignment.
One of my favorite TV shows is “Barnwood Builders”. It’s about a group of West Virginians that restore or repurpose old log cabins like this one. There is history, legacy, and beauty in every one of these logs, just as there is in every bone of our lives, no matter how dilapidated we may be at the present moment.
A fun part of the show is the banter that goes on among the crew . One of the terms they’ll sometimes use, especially when trying to get log notches to align, is “cattywampus”, which means “not lined up correctly”. They’ll say say in their wonderful West Virginian accent, “Now that beam is just all cattywampus”. Then Sherman, the chainsaw expert of the crew, pulls out a chainsaw, shaves a piece off, and suddenly the log snaps into place the way it was intended.
Without the restoring presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives we quickly go cattywampus ourselves. Hiding our sin only makes it worse. “While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long” (v. 3). Fortunately we don’t have to stay here. “Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (v. 1). What changed? “I acknowledged my sin to you … ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,’ and you forgave the guilt of my sin” (v. 5).
God promises to put us back in alignment if we will only invite him into our cattywampus selves. “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (v. 8). “Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord” (v. 10).
Once we invite him in to restore us everything changes. “Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart” (v. 11).
‘Lent’, which we start this week, derives from the Old English word ‘len(c)ten’ which means “spring season” (1). It’s the forty days leading up to Easter and the point is to get ourselves ready for the Resurrection of Christ. Just as the days lengthen and the temperature warms, our souls can experience greater light and warmth by eliminating something that tends to entangle us. I’ve decided this year to give up sweets. This is a common one but a good one. I need to lose weight, and too often I go to the snack cabinet when what I ought to be doing instead is going to the prayer closet.
Which verse of this Psalm most encourages you to let the Spirit re-align your cattywampus self? What is God leading you to do to get yourself ready for the glorious joy of Easter?
(1) Wikipedia, “Lent”.