April 11/Fifth Thursday of Lent
Seek the Lord and his strength; Search for his presence continually. ~ Ps 105:4
It’s the “continually” that causes difficulties, isn’t it? We manage to engage occasionally, perhaps seeking the Lord and his strength on Sundays when we go to church, or even a few times a week when we scratch out scant minutes for quiet prayer. But continually? Surely that is not a reasonable expectation for God to have of busy, bothered people like us. Indeed, as we go through each day and encounter a challenging student, a difficult client, a recalcitrant patient, an uncooperative colleague, a demanding partner—not to mention the pitiless flood of meetings, emails, phone calls, errands, and family obligations—it is easy to put our putative practice of the presence of God aside and tell ourselves we’ll get back to it later, when things have settled down. The psalmist is having none of it: his use of two different but oft-twinned verbs for “seek,” darash and baqash, underscores the importance of our making the effort to seek the Lord (an emphasis lost in most English translations). It is the process, not the outcome, that signifies, or as the 20th-century Trappist and writer Thomas Merton wrote, “I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.” In today’s first reading, Abraham bears witness to the need to seek God continually. Through all the unexpected happenings in his life—the uprooting from Ur, the terrifying vision of God with its promise of countless descendants, the uneasy sojourn in Egypt, the late-life birth of a son—he continued to seek the Lord by keeping his covenant. It is that steady fidelity, the daily effort we make, that is important.
Eternal God, grant me the steadfastness and fidelity to seek your presence continually this day, in spite of all that would get in my way. Amen.