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Are We Afraid of Intimacy With God?

Devotional Thought of the Day:photo

15  So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children. Now we call him, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 (NLT)

456 You belittle meditation… Might you not be afraid, and so seek anonymity since you dare not speak with Christ face to face? You must see that there are many ways of belittling meditation, even though you might say you are practising it.  (1)

Yesterday, in our adult Bible Study, I asked a question…..

“Would it seem right to pray the Lord’s prayer, “Dad in heaven”.

A number of people were squirming!  “It isn’t reverent enough”, As I asked people what difference it would make, “it would make Him seem closer,”,As we talked through the idea, it also became apparent that it would make Him seem to be listening more directly, and more involved in our lives.

After all, besides my friend the seminary president who dropped in for a visit, none of us addressed our parents as “Dear Father reading the paper”, or “Dear Mother in the Kitchen”!

We want a safe distance as we pray, we want to be able to keep God there, over in the sanctuary, or a reminder on the fireplace mantle, or perhaps, we want to see Him in far out in the Galaxy.  Seeing him sitting on our couch, or at our dinner table, or talking to us in the backyard while we are barbecuing?  Would that be too close for you?  What if God shared even more intimate moments with us?

Does the thought of God living with you strike fear in your hearts?  Does it cause you to think first of that time – where your thoughts were impure, or when you couldn’t resist letting your anger, or jealousy, or lust reign in your life?  Are we terrorized when we read that God knows our thoughts?

Why?

What would happen if we looked forward to that level of intimacy, counted on it?  What if our reaction was the same as when a child is waiting for Dad to get home, to share with him the day, to play catch, to tell Him of our heartbreaks?  What would happen if we took to times of meditation and prayer for what they were – times of intimate, deep times with God, even if a word is not said?  ( I remember my times of walking down the shore road with my dad  – neither saying a word for a mile or two – as some of our greatest times…)  What if our conversations with God resembled Andy Griffith and Ron Howard in the closing credits of the black and white television show?  That is the gift promised and given in our baptism!  The presence of the Holy Spirit, for such is the gift to those God claims as His children!

Scary?

think of this – in times of joy – you can cry out – Daddy – come look and see, (as He smiles, for who do you think set up the glorious moment), in times of great trauma – you can cry our Daddy, and know His comfort and healing will be there, as He assures us, promises us that all will work out… for good, because of His love.   And in the between times, we walk with Him…revealing His mercy, His care, His cleansing our lives.  Revealing how deep, how high, how broad – how wide His love is for us.

Why are we afraid of this/

Cry out!

As we sang as children – with great joy, “Lord, be with us!”

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 2013-2016). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Impatience, Broken hearts and Christian Ministry.

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, ...

Dove of the Holy Spirit (ca. 1660, alabaster, Throne of St. Peter, St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Devotional thought of the day:

3  There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, 4  and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. 5  In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! 6  Christ arrives right on time to make this happen. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. He presented himself for this sacrificial death when we were far too weak and rebellious to do anything to get ourselves ready. And even if we hadn’t been so weak, we wouldn’t have known what to do anyway.  Romans 5:3-6 (MSG)

The world is cold and seems to be asleep. You often look on it, from your vantage point, with a glance that would set it on fire. Lord, may it awaken! Channel your bursts of impatience and be sure that if we manage to keep our whole life alight, we shall set every corner of the world alight, and the way it all looks will change.  (1)

By no means am I naturally patient.  It is not the gift I’ve been given, and  this is seen quite easily.  This morning, getting some lab work done, I was frustrated that there were 4 others before me.  I know ther has been as many as 20 before, but this morning, with places to go, people to minister to – waiting 10 minutes seemed like a month.

I am especially impatient when it comes to dealing with pain.  You know – the physical pain of them drawing blood ( 4  quart vials it seemed like! ) Or the spiritual pain of grieving, or the pastoral heart pain of watching people choose to do that which will hurt them.

“Why won’t they listen?” we ask.
“Why won’t they at least try it God’s way?”
“when will they ‘get it’?

Every minister I know has suffered from such impatience, such heart break as people continue to choose their own way.

Most of us have been tempted to hammer them, to “use the law” to crush them until they repent, until they conform to God’s plan. (or at least ours)   We want to find something to do to turn them into “supersaints”, to help them overcome all their sin,, to get their acts right and for them to become the next Billy Grahams.   We want that prodigal to turn for home as soon as he gets to the end of the driveway.  It doesn’t always work that way though.

But can we have God’s patience, the father’s patience with them, and still pray and encourage and take the moments we have to call them back to Christ?

It’s hard… its really hard…dang it, it’s hard.

The apostle Paul notes it as well,

18  I’m passing this work on to you, my son Timothy. The prophetic word that was directed to you prepared us for this. All those prayers are coming together now so you will do this well, fearless in your struggle, 19  keeping a firm grip on your faith and on yourself. After all, this is a fight we’re in. There are some, you know, who by relaxing their grip and thinking anything goes have made a thorough mess of their faith. 20  Hymenaeus and Alexander are two of them. I let them wander off to Satan to be taught a lesson or two about not blaspheming.  1 Timothy 1:18-20 (MSG) 

What a challenge this is!  How our soul, itself broken and impatent, struggles with such days of ministry!  Yet, learning to discern when to speak – and how to speak, and when to let the prodigal go is a skill that comes with maturity.

I find it interesting that Romans finds the solution in trusting Christ, in looking to His promises, the work we expect that He will do, in any time of trial, and that includes this one.

Escriva’s comment is similar – that we funnel our impatience into our own life, opening it up to see God work in us.   TO see God eradicate our own sin, and the things that would quench our spirit. Paul mentions this proactively to TImothy as well, telling Timothy not to walk down the road where these brothers walked….

As I thought through this… I think it is an essential part of our ministry, to be ready, in season and out, whether the time is right or not in our mind.  For prodigals do return home, and we need to be aware of how we’ve been welcomed back home ourselves.

For it is in realizing the grace we’ve been given, that we find the love and mercy to welcome them home.

So pray, intercede, contemplate God’s love for them and for us and be ready…  

to rejoice in their home coming.

Lord have mercy!

 

 

 

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1424-1428). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

The Crucified Life… not just to live during Lent

Devotional Thoughts of the Day – please discuss!

20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for meGalatians 2:20 (NLT) 

 The Cross symbolizes the life of an apostle of Christ, with a strength and a truth that delight both soul and body, though sometimes it is hard, and we can feel its weight. (1)

Often among those I study with,  we talk about the baptized life, about living our lives in view of the fact that we have been united to Him in our baptism.  That because of that action,sin has been separated from our lives, that we live in the presence of God.  It is a pretty powerful thought.

I was thinking today as well though – when we are baptized into Chirst, we are baptized into His death – we are spiritually there on the cross, with our sins.  We have, Romans 6 and Colossians 2 tell us, died with Jesus, there on the cross.   That we may live – that we are living, with Him – the crucified one.  We live a baptized life, yes – but we are baptized into a crucified life.  We bear His cross, and in doing so take on something wonderful, something both practical and yet, in a way quite mystical and taxes our soul and our intellect.

It is not easy to live a crucified life – to live in view of the incredible love and mercy of God, to be reminded that we need, we should reflect that love. And we need to realize that the forgiveness we receive, is available to all.  Especially to those who are our enemies and adversaries.   To realize, with the love of Christ, that they need this love, this mercy, that they need the reconciliation that is available at the cross.

It is an incredible delight – and a weight at the same time, because even as we know the lifting of our own burdens – we take on a burden to see others freed from the snare of sin and satan and the fear of death… and the bondage that guilt or shame brings.  Indeed, Paul found himself weeping and deeply grieving for those who would reject such.

So my friends, live as one who has been crucified.. for you have…with Christ.  May your life reflect and reveal the very life you have in Christ now.. and may that reflection draw others to Him!

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2734-2736). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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