This reflection was first published on goshen.edu/devotions, where you can read more devotions and subscribe to receive them in your inbox each weekday during Lent.
By Adela Hufford, director of admissions, Goshen College
Scripture: Psalm 32 (NRSV)
Psalm 32:9 encourages us to “not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,” and yet, at almost 40 years old I struggle at not being the mule. My unwillingness to step back from my own personal (often self-imposed) daily drama keeps me bridled, like the mule. Unlike the mule, I have the gift of understanding through the lens of hindsight and the retelling of my own story. So, how do I become unbridled?
I am reading through author Shauna Niequist’s devotional “Savor: Living Abundantly Where You Are, As You Are.” There are numerous parallels in the February entries to Psalm 32 and its subtitle, The Joy of Forgiveness. I am learning that my desire to do and do everything better keep me from a life that is co-authored. I worry about how I will accomplish all the items on my to-do list. The days feel heavy. I lift up groans. Bridled.
In desperation I lift up my hands and acknowledge my attempt to be the sole author is not working. In hindsight I am reminded that my previous attempts at sole authorship also did not end how I had envisioned. The retelling of my life story offers a gentle reminder that God’s co-authorship involves me asking for forgiveness through prayer. Surrendering my to-do list. God’s forgiveness of my guilt of not being better is freeing. Unbridled.
God, help me to not be the mule. Help me to see that your world is bigger than mine.
Scripture: Psalm 32 (NRSV)
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
2Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
3While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,” and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah
6Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
7You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah
8I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.
10Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
11Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.