Daily Office Readings for the Saturday after Ash Wednesday: Year 2
Morning, Psalms 30 and 32; Evening, Psalms 42 and 43;
Ezekiel 39:21 to 29; Philippians 4:10 to 20; John 17:20 to 26:
“Do not be like horse or mule, which have no understanding; who must be fitted with bit and bridle, or else they will not stay near you.” (Psalm 32:10)
I remember once having Morning Prayer with two other seminarians while in seminary and reading this Psalm. We laughed as all three of us thought of people that we too would have to be fitted with bit and bridle, or else we would not stay near them. But it was because we did indeed have understanding, and that we were loving, and so we stayed near them even when it was uncomfortable.
The metaphor of bit and bridle may in fact be a good way of looking at how God holds us close to God’s will. We often don’t have understanding. Often we don’t know the will of God and when God reveals just a little of it to us, we run. We become like Jonah trying to avoid Nineveh.
I think the point of the Psalmist is that not having understanding keeps us in fear. We don’t realize the power of God’s forgiveness. We need to stay near the rough un-comfortableness of God and be patient until understanding finally comes.
There was a time in my life when I did not want one of my daughters to be pregnant. But she was. I could feel a prayer welling up in my gut to ask God to not let her be pregnant because she was still a senior in high school. But she was. She gave birth to her first born. Alex. Alex is a gift from God to us. I love my granddaughter so much. So joy that God gave me is what I needed rather than what I asked for. I am so glad God fitted me with bit and bridle, or else I would not have stayed near God. I had no understanding.
Is there any lack of understanding in your life that causes you to want to move away from God? God will fit you with that bit and bridle and hold you close unless you turn and run to your own pain and peril, spiritually bruised from opposing the bit and bridle . We as seminarians learned that while this verse sounds funny, holding on to what God wants for us is as serious as it gets. Every human being has a story, or two, or more, of challenge. We need to tell these stories as did the prophets of the Bible. Our stories help others know that God holds us close – bit and bridle close.
From Psalm 30 we have the words, “Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning,” (Psalm 30:6). I seriously pray that joy comes for the people of Ukraine. I think all of us who did nothing will have this on our conscience for the rest of our lives. We too will need joy in the morning. How will God give us joy? Will bit and bridle be enough to hold us close?
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love, to serve, and to teach, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John