Twenty-Third Day of Lent

Scripture: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

Sadly (to some), I am one of those persons who loves to know “how the story ends” before it even begins. I love seeing how a writer or filmmaker or storyteller develops the plot to move to its climax. From time to time, this compulsion actually leads me to read the last chapter of a book before the first. My wife thinks this is a joke and an abomination. “Can’t you just enjoy the journey of the story?”

I wonder if this isn’t something of Samuel’s experience in this text - a longing to know how this chapter of the story will end even before it begins. Out of the grief, loss, disappointment, (guilt?), of what’s just taken place with Saul, Samuel is invited to start again. Understandably, the current situation and what’s just happened produce some fear, angst, anxiety and maybe the impulse towards control. I identify with the written and perceived questions of Samuel’s experience: “what will Saul do?”; “is this the One?”; “what if I don’t get this right?”

In spite of these questions, I wonder if Samuel doesn’t offer an example of a broken, “long obedience in the same direction” (Eugene Peterson). Samuel brokenly faces his fear and anxiety of “what will Saul do?” - God gives him a cover story. Samuel overcomes his initial impressions and perceptions of Jesse’s sons - he remains open to listening and pursuing God’s will. Even when all the visible options were gone, Samuel asks, “Is this all?”… “Is this the end?”

At the heart of this text is this truth: “People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart”. Am I willing to submit my expectations, thoughts, hopes, and perceptions of how the journey will end (and the desire to control it) to the moment by moment, “day in day out” expressions of faithfully living into God’s redemptive and renewing story? We actually know where this Lenten journey ends - death and resurrection. Even in this season of Lent, am I (we) willing to surrender my knowledge and awareness of “how this journey ends” to the faithful pursuit of God’s best in this day?

Glenn Peterson
Hope Community Covenant Church
Strathmore, AB