Psalm 63:1-8. My flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water (Psalm 63:1b).

Where is that dry and weary land where there is no water? Where is that land of emptiness and of solitude? Where is that land of thirst and of seeking? Where is that land of danger and of escape from danger? Where is that land of valleys and of steep slopes—and mountaintops, where you can see great distances?

Where is that land where flesh longs and faints for the Lord? What is the nature of that dry and weary land? Where do we find it? How do we enter?

Where is that dry and weary land? If you see a television or hear music you are in the wrong place. You won’t find it in company—it’s desolate. In cultivated fields or by manicured lawns? No. Well-worn paths? You’re headed the wrong way. Turn.

In this land you will face danger. You will step on snakes and kick baby lions. The Lord will keep you safe.

In this land you will not find food. You will face dependence.

In this land you will find solitude. You will face yourself.

In this land you will be forsaken. You will experience absence.

This land is weary. You will trudge endless miles of rocky ground.

You will face trials. Don’t turn aside to make yourself a loaf of bread. Let your food be to follow the one who leads you.

And yet in this weary land, the sun also rises. If you have a hidden source of water, you will grow, and blossom, and eventually bear fruit.

This is a land one does not often enter voluntarily. We are driven there by lying, deceitful people we thought were our own. We are driven there by enemies. By the vanity of the world. Yet we find a cave of refuge. We may find hidden beauties in the rocky, dry ground. We may find hidden springs with growing plants.

Do you want to enter this land? If you don’t get chased there by enemies or pushed there by the vanity of the world, there is another path. It’s narrow, rocky, and steep. Few find it and even fewer follow it, but it leads directly up the mountain. It is this: choose always what looks less attractive. Take the narrow way.


Third Sunday in Lent, Year C


Harry Plantinga

Harry Plantinga is a professor of computer science at Calvin College and the director of ccel.org and hymnary.org.