Courage for the Long Road Ahead | Psalm 103



Artwork by Timothy Botts The season of Lent is almost upon us and that means that we are about to depart on a long, long journey to the cross. After placing ashes on one another this Wednesday to remind us our our mortality we will journey with Jesus to his temptation (and, indeed, our own) as we enter into the wilderness that exists between us at that glorious empty tomb.

As Luke's account of the Transfiguration reminded us last week, we are now called to leave that glorious mountain for the holy valley where we must depend on the light of Christ to illuminate the path to the cross.

But between the convulsions of the demonized boy in yesterday's passage, the dismal language of dust and ashes of this Wednesday, and our upcoming encounter with Satan this upcoming Sunday, I need comfort, courage, and conviction!

Thanks be to God for Psalm 103 and it's placement in the lectionary for our departure on this Lenten journey!

On Wednesday we will begin this journey but we will not travel it alone. Psalm 103 reminds us who it is that goes with us every step of the way:

Our God who forgives, who heals, and who redeems our lives... Our God who crowns us with steadfast love and mercy... Our God who is merciful and gracious and slow to anger... Our God who removes our transgressions from us... Our God who has compassion for us... Our God who renews us... Our God who is from everlasting to everlasting...

This psalm reminds me that I mustn't forget all of God's benefits, especially during this season of Lent. Therefore, as courage for the long road ahead, I am heading up to my apartment to print off a copy of Psalm 103. I will carry it in my back pocket for the entirety of my Lenten journey. I will read it and be reminded of who it is that walks with me (and you!) on this journey.

Friends, do not forget all God's benefits! Take heart and be courageous for we are in good company on this wild and precious journey.

Grace and peace, Stephen


Stephen Fearing

Stephen was born in 1988 in Cookeville, TN, where his parents met whilst attending Tennessee Tech. Shortly after, they moved to Dalton, Georgia where they put down roots and joined First Presbyterian Church, the faith family that taught Stephen that he was first and foremost a beloved child of God. It was this community that taught Stephen that it was OK to have questions and doubts and that nothing he could do could every possibly separate him from the love of God. In 1995, his sister, Sarah Kate, joined the family and Stephen began his journey as a life-long musician. Since then, he has found a love of music and has found this gift particularly fitting for his call to ministry. Among the instruments that he enjoys are piano, trumpet, guitar, and handbells. Stephen has always had a love of singing and congregation song. An avid member of the marching band, Stephen was the drum major of his high school's marching band. In 2006, Stephen began his tenure at Presbyterian College in Clinton, SC where he majored in Religion and minored in History. While attending PC, Stephen continued to explore his love of music by participating in the Wind Ensemble, Jazz Band, Jazz Combo, Jazz Trio, as well as playing in the PC Handbell ensemble and playing mandolin and banjo PC's very own bluegrass/rock group, Hosegrass, of which Stephen was a founding member (Hosegrass even released their own CD!). In 2010, Stephen moved from Clinton to Atlanta to attend Columbia Theological Seminary to pursue God's call on his life to be a pastor in the PC(USA). During this time, Stephen worked at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Silver Creek Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church, and Westminster Presbyterian Church. For three years, Stephen served as the Choir Director of Columbia Theological Seminary's choir and also served as the Interim Music Director at Westminster Presbyterian Church. In 2014, Stephen graduated from Columbia with a Masters of Divinity and a Masters of Arts in Practical Theology with an emphasis in liturgy, music, and worship. In July of 2014, Stephen was installed an ordained as Teaching Elder at Shelter Island Presbyterian Church in Shelter Island, NY. Later that year, Stephen married the love of his life, Tricia, and they share their home on Shelter Island with their Golden Doodle, Elsie, and their calico cat, Audrey. In addition to his work with the people who are Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, Stephen currently serves as a commission from Long Island Presbytery to the Synod of the Northeast and, beginning in January of 2016, will moderate the Synod's missions team.