Understand—through the stillness.
Act—out of the stillness.
Conquer—in the stillness.

Dag Hammarskjöld in Markings (1964)

Still your body, mind, and soul. In the stillness, can you sense God’s hope waiting for you?

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Listen to what’s right, Lord; pay attention to my cry! Listen closely to my prayer; it’s spoken by lips that don’t lie! My justice comes from you; let your eyes see what is right! You have examined my heart, testing me at night. You’ve looked me over closely, but haven’t found anything wrong. My mouth doesn’t sin. But these other people’s deeds? I have avoided such violent ways by the command from your lips. My steps are set firmly on your paths; my feet haven’t slipped.

Psalm 17:1-5

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Many Christians have been raised in a tradition that emphasizes the universal nature of sin. Consequently, it can be challenging for us to wrap our minds around psalms like this one. What do we do with a prayer that is based on a claim of complete innocence?

I know a wise psychologist who often says, “There are no wrong feelings — only wrong choices about what we do with our feelings.” In this psalm, the author offers up a feeling of innocence. Our feelings are often uncontrollable, and it’s not wrong to have a feeling. But notice what the author does with that feeling: the author brings that feeling to God, admits that God is the only one who knows whether that feeling is accurate, and asks for God’s continued help.

This psalm helps us recognize that there may be moments when we feel blameless. We think we are completely in the right, but know we still need God’s help. If you find yourself in such a moment today, what will you do with that feeling?

Andrew Garnett

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God who knows all hearts, you know the reality of our every moment. Whether I think I am living righteously or whether I think that I am stumbling, help me to place my trust in you. You are the source of my hope. Amen.

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Go today to walk with a God who has been good in the past, who is faithful in the present, and who has prepared for you a future of overwhelming hope.

Andrew Garnett

Andrew Garnett is a minister at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC. He enjoys spending time with his wife and daughter, hiking, visiting historical sites, and playing board games — and the more complicated the board game, the better!

24 Preludes, Op. 28: No 4 In E Minor

Garry Bailey

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