Devotional Thought of the Day:
14 May the day I was born be cursed. May the day my mother bore me never be blessed. 15 May the man be cursed who brought the news to my father, saying, “A male child is born to you,” bringing him great joy. 16 Let that man be like the cities the Lord demolished without compassion. Let him hear an outcry in the morning and a war cry at noontime 17 because he didn’t kill me in the womb so that my mother might have been my grave, her womb eternally pregnant. 18 Why did I come out of the womb to see only struggle and sorrow, to end my life in shame? Jeremiah 20:14-18 (CSBBible)
It can’t be otherwise. It’s annoying when one has the best of intentions but things don’t turn out well. Surely this is murmuring. I do the same, and I can’t banish the thought from my mind when I wish that I had never started [this business].88 So likewise when I wish I were dead rather than witness such contempt [for the Word of God and his faithful servants].89 Accordingly it is only speculative theologians who condemn such impatience and recommend patience. If they get down to the realm of practice, they will be aware of this. Cases of this kind are exceedingly important. One should not dispute about them in a speculative way.
14 “It’s very difficult”, you exclaim, disheartened. Listen, if you make an effort, with the grace of God that is enough. Put your own interests to one side, you will serve others for God, and you will come to the aid of the Church in the field where the battles are being fought today: in the street, in the factory, in the workshop, in the university, in the office, in your own surroundings, amongst your family and friends.
I resonate with Luther’s words in purple far more than I want to admit. When he questions his very life because of what he observed, his writings hit hard to things I dare not admit. (for friends readings this – not today)
He’s not the only one – Jeremiah 20:7 is a favorite passage, and has been for over 30 years. Yet, only over the last decade have I learned to give voice to that without feeling guilty and ashamed.
It is good to know at least Jeremiah and Martin Luther understand this – and were able to give voice to it… and still trust in God.
You see, it takes more faith to pray in this way, to be this honest, this transparent. To depend on God to be with us in the places where we are exhausted, the places we don’t have the answers, or the answers are not pleasant to consider. The points where God calls us to action in the ways we can’t imagine.
Once we give voice to it, once you’ve come to trust God in that moment, then the wisdom of Escriva’s comments make sense. Depending on that grace, we find the abiltity to set aside our own pain, and minister to those around us.
This isnt to deny it, but to trust God with it. Embrancing and moving past it, we find those scars a critical element in our ability to serve, in our ability to praise God.
Jeremiah would do that – continuing his prophetic ministry through the rest of this book and Lamentations as well. Luther would move forward in minsitry, even more resolved to help people understand the grace of God. He would come to the point of taking action, finding it was the time for impatience, not patience. It was time to act, knowing the presence of God meant He would be sustained.
That’s the key in these things – find your refuge in Jesus…find your rest in Him and you will find yourself ministering to others.
That is the miracle and the paradox….
That is walking with Jesus.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 54: Table Talk, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 54 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 30–31.
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 294-298). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
10 Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 (NLT2)
994 “My enthusiasm is gone,” you wrote me. Yours has to be a work not of enthusiasm, but of love, conscious of duty— which means self-denial.
There are times we are physically exhausted.
There are times where we are emotionally exhausted, or spiritually exhausted.
There are some days when these all roll in together, and staying away, or even getting out of bed seems like to great a burden.
In this pandemic, there are too many of these days. When we feel like the person St. Josemaria is advising, where enthusiasm is gone, where we feel drained, where life is without energy.
It is that moment that what we have left is love.
Not just our ability to love.
God’s love, sustaining us.
Enabling us to love others, enabling us to love ourselves…
God has promised us to be here… with us, given g a reason to get beyond the lethargy, to get beyond the discouragement, to get beyond the weariness.
Listen to these promises… rely on them… and know He loves you. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Let’s Not Get Tired!
Galatians 6:1–10, 14–18
† In Jesus Name †
May God’s mercy and peace rest upon you, as you live a life drawn to the Cross, for you are the people of God!
No Un-obeyable Orders
But Don’t get tired?
Every summer I read a series of books by one of my favorite authors. He writes series about the military and the police, novels based on true events. In one of the books I was reading this week, an older retired officer mentioned to a younger officer that you never issue an order you know can’t be obeyed, or won’t be obeyed. Specifically, if the character of the person you are directing leads you to believe they can’t or won’t obey the order, don’t bother.
Find someone else, or find a way to replace the person.
For some reason that piece of wisdom made me laugh, when I was reading Paul’s words to the church in Galatia,
9 So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.
Of course, when I read it, I read it more like, “don’t get tired while doing good!”
Too late – been tired for a while – way too tired sometimes.
But oh the feeling of accomplishing something good is… to Goood!
Even if we are tired.
So today’s lesson could be titled – How not to get tired of doing good to other even when we are tired.
So how do we do that?
Obeying the Law
First, we have to define what it means to do good. Not that’s not right, we don’t get to define it, God does.
What we have to do Is have revealed to us what God sees as doing good, or doing what is right. The easy answer is found in next week’s gospel – a passage I preached on 30 years ago. To do good is to do this,
“‘You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Luke 10:27 (NLT)
If you all agree that everything you do will fulfill that, we can have communion and go home! Seriously, we need to understand that, and today’s epistle gives a number of examples, such as,
“if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.”
“2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3″
These are pretty strong commands, pretty challenging. For how many of us are willing to go to someone who is sinning, and try to help them to see the need to stop? How many are willing to invest and risk what it will take to gently and humbly restore that person.
Knowing that loving them this much – even with a gentle and humble spirit could mean that they strike back, and tell you to mind your own business. Or even worse?
How many of us are willing to help someone bear their burdens, to be there in times of sorrow and in times of tears? What about in the dark times, where anxiety and doubt and guilt are crushing them?
This is as much doing good as is celebrating the service of those who are retiring, or those whose ministry is changing.
It isn’t easy, it takes commitment, patience, the old kind of patience which is called long-suffering, it takes faith, and the ability to set aside our own self-interest, to make sure the physical, emotional and most importantly spiritual needs of others are taken care of, that they are okay.
But how do we do that? How do we set aside a basic interest of self-preservation to minister to others, to share their burdens?
Treasuring the Walk
We remember Jesus, and we let Him draw us back to the cross. Here St. Paul again,
14 As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died!
This is our hope, in the cross, where Jesus was brutally put to death. At the cross, where he was nailed, and where a spear pierced his heart and lungs. In Christ lifted up, drawing us to Him, that we could become children of God.
Where our transformation into His likeness begins.
That is where the interests of the world disappear, that is where what drives the world, riches, fame, pleasure and even health don’t seem as magnificent as seeing Jesus looking at us, knowing only as God can the love for us that says the torment and pain are worth it.
For he freed us from sin, from Satan, from the power of death that would separate us from God and all that is good.
Getting tired, exhausted even? Feeling like you do not have another step in you? Like I said, some of us have been there and done that often. Sometimes, it is at that point where we see another in need, someone desperate for help. Someone caught up in sin and struggling to stay afloat.
Look to the cross, see the love of Christ, dying there for you and the person in need. You won’t tire of responding to that need then; You won’t say I don’t have the strength, or I can’t make that sacrifice.
You will simply take their hand, and lead them to the cross, to the Lord of love, to the one who was crucified, died and was buried and rose again… for us.
Knowing this, the peace of God our Father is your, the peace beyond all understanding; that guards our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. AMEN!
Devotional Thought/Discussion Thought of the Day:
“Look, I am with you always, yes, until the end of time” Mt. 28:20 (NAB)
19 Don’t you know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and who was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourselves but to God; 20 he bought you for a price. So use your bodies for God’s glory. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 (TEV)
“Work with cheerfulness, with peace, with presence of God. In this way you will also do your task with common sense. You will carry it through to the end. Though tiredness is beating you down, you will finish it off well; and your works will be pleasing to God.” (1)
It doesn’t matter the job that we have, there are times where it can zap the life out of you. Sometimes it is because it is too routine, and the same old tasks begin to bore us and tire us and drain all our energy from us. Sometimes it is because our work is hard, our days are too long, and we become exhausted. ( I love the study that says we get more work done working 55 hours a week than 70 – well I love to think about it – even as I probably prove it all too accurate.)
As I enter my second week of work since returning from the mission field, I know I am going to be exhausted by the end of this week – and some of my normal routine will suffer. So as I am doing devotions today, I read the above quote by St. Josemaria – a man whose life makes mine seem sedate and peace-filled.
His words resonate with some recent experience, my mission trip in China where tiredness was itself overwhelmed by my awareness of God’s presence. Of course He is with us everywhere, in every moment of our lives, because of His work in calling us to faith, in the work of God in our baptisms, as we are united to Christ’s death and resurrection, and the Holy Spirit is given residence in our lives.
But, when we get tired, and when we get bored, do we remember this? Or do we take the presence of God in our lives, and reduce it to some abstract, unconnected point of doctrine, some bit of trivial knowledge.
My friends, the ancient greeting of the church, “The Lord is with you”, must take root in our lives, it is the essential truth that makes a difference – that God has invested Himself in us, in His people, in our lives.
As we realize this, what happens is seen above, our lives become more focused, our vocations are lived out more completely. Not because of our diligence, not because of our… goodness. But because the presence of God changes what we do into something shared with Him.
Walk with God… revel in His mercy, His love, His will to restore us, to cleanse us, to be His people, and He, our Lord, our God, our Dad.
So bored at work? exhausted by the daily grind?
Pray, and realize you dwell in the presence of God.
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2691-2693). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. 30 For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (TEV)
When you find yourself tired and exhausted, approach Our Lord confidently, as that good friend of ours did, and say: “Jesus, see what you can do about it. Even before I begin to fight, I am already tired.” He will give you his strength. (1)
It’s Monday morning and I am sitting in the office after a very tiring weekend. I am looking at 2 back-breaking days of work, then going on a retreat where I am still “pastor”.
To be honest, all I want to do is crawl back into bed, relax, and rest and know that He is God. Gladly let Him rule the universe today, I just want to go back to sleep! (oh wait – ruling the universe includes me… drats!)
There is little difference between the words of Jesus, and the words of St. Josemarie Escriva. Indeed, the passage in Matthew came to mind as I closed my devotions this morning with a few similar quotes on pessimism from the book “The Forge” There is a reason I posted them both, one – to show Jesus commanding us, asking us, to depend on Him, to call upon Him, not just for the forgiveness of sins, but for the strength to endure, even to endure Mondays. We need to know that Christianity is more about Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights, not because we have to be holy all that time (which would be nice) but because God is with us, all that time.
Which is why I put the quote from the Forge. Having read about the challenges and endurance of a priest caught between wars, challenged by those who valued the system more than the ones it was created to serve, who served sacrificially and diligently and to the point of exhaustion, that it is encouraging to hear him advise us to ask God for the help GOd promised. My theory is that we are encouraged by the priest to do this, because it is where he found the strength to do what he did. To do the work of the gospel, to encourage and train and shepherd people, and to train shepherds, he needed a strength that would empower him through the midst of the tiredness, the exhaustion.
If he experienced the yoke being easy, the burden being light, as he walked with Jesus, if he pointed to those who’ve gone before doing the same thing, if I can think of people in my own generation who walk with Christ – and find the strength to get it done, I know Jesus will be faithful and get me through this day… and the dreaded tuesday.
Jesus commits Himself to fulfill this promise in Matthew. History and so many saints have testified to Him keeping His promise, in situations more grave than a Monday. To make that burden easy, to make our work light. Maybe your exhausted, mentally, physically, spiritually. You’ve got a case of Monday-itis. and you’ve got it so bad.. that you don’t even have the strength to feel guilty about it. Realize God is with you, empowering you, and lean on Him rather than trying to do it yourself. Enjoy His presence, and the work… it will get done.
Cry out, “Lord have Mercy”, and know His is with you….even on Monday
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 1029-1031). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.