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The Road to Holiness Starts With Significant Failure…

Thoughts that drive me to Jesus Christ, and His cross:

The king’s demand is impossible. No one except the gods can tell you your dream, and they do not live here among people.”  Daniel 2:11 NLT

605    “Father, how can you stand such filth?” you asked me after a contrite confession. I said nothing, thinking that if your humility makes you feel like that—like filth, a heap of filth!—then we may yet turn all your weakness into something really great.

The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ, the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do.…

When the wisemen around the King heard his demand, they heard only a death sentence, for they knew all their intellect and wisdom was not up to the king’s demand. And unknowingly scripture records a prophetic statement – that only a God that would live among men could possibly save them.

There was no other way. The task was too great.

Daniel will step in, and walking with God will have the impossible made possible, the unknowable revealed, and will become the savior of the wisemen. All of them, even those who served other gods and demons.

His words to the king reinforced this: it isn’t about our strength or power.

And it is not because I am wiser than anyone else that I know the secret of your dream, but because God wants you to understand what was in your heart. Daniel 2:30 NLT

That’s why St Josemaria finds hope for the man confessing the filthiest of sins. For he has realized the need for assistance that only God can provide. Not only can He help and heal us, He will. He promised that help, that comfort.

Similarly, Tozer finds that the man so convinced that he cannot purify himself has finally reached the point where holiness is assured – because his only option is to look to Jesus!

Therefore, while receiving the sacraments is important, it is critical to meditate on what God is doing, as He sprinkled water on us, as He feeds us His body and Blood, as we realize what it means for Him to say, “My Child, you are forgiven all your sin, all injustice has been cleaned from our lives. We need to think that through, not just 2 minutes before church. These sacraments were not established, so God could look down on us as well behaving muppets. He established them so that we could be ministered to, so that we would have something tangible to remember, to think through, to have our souls captivated by. As He captures out hearts and minds, we reflect His glory into the dark world in which we live. That is what holiness is, to be so caught up in the relationship that we unconsciously take on the image of Jesus.

Our God is here. He is with us… and He makes us holy, as we find peace in His presence.

 

 

 

 

Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

A. W. Tozer, Tozer for the Christian Leader (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2015).

Burdened? With those of Christ, or Those of the World?

Devotional Thought of the Day:

28  “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. 29  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 30  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (MSG) 

414         Is the burden heavy? No, a thousand times no! Those obligations which you freely accepted are wings that raise you high above the vile mud of your passions. Do the birds feel the weight of their wings? If you were to cut them off and put them on the scales you would see that they are heavy. But can a bird fly if they are taken away from it? It needs those wings and it does not notice their weight, for they lift it up above other creatures. Your “wings” are heavy too! But if you did not have them you would fall into the filthiest mire.  (1)

It’s one of the great mysteries of ministry, the ability to endure, and the strength that comes when we shoulder the burdens we are called to bear as we walk with Jesus.

There are days and weeks where pastors and others who serve the church get worn down, we are tired and weary and nearly breaking under the strain.  I saw such a week ago, at another pastor’s memorial service.  So many of my brothers looked worn down, beaten, broken.  I didn’t pay much attention to the service to be honest, as I was mostly praying for the pastors sitting on either side of me.   We are a tired bunch these days, many of us overburdened, many of us at the point where we can forget to look to Jesus.  As we forget it is He that works through us, caring for His people.

As I was reading this morning, I came to the above quote from St. Josemaria.  Having read of his life, of the existence during a civil war when brothers were dieing, of working tirelessly to see a vision where people – all people of the church realized that they were God’s worksmanship – that He had a role for each one, I realized these just weren’t words of advice.  These were words of experience, words that shared the hope of realizing that we live at our best, when we take on those burdens of Christ.

Similarly, Eugene Peterson’s translation of an oft quoted passage strike home as well.  It talks of the relationship we have with Christ.  The relationship based on letting Him lead, letting Him choose the burdens we must carry. He replaces the burdens of sin, and shame, and guilt and resentment and regret with grace, with love, with putting all that aside to walk with Him, as He re-creates lives, as He restores what was broken, as He brings healing to that which was sickened and weakened by neglect and oppression. That’s God’s work, not really ours, though often it happens as we talk, as we hold the hand of one weeping, praying for them.

The burdens we do carry… seemingly heavier than those we set down, set us soaring.  Not because they make us stronger, for that is not the nature of a wing.  Wings primarily work because they catch the wind, and the wind pressure supports them and lifts them up.  This is how the Spirit works in us, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, who dwells in us, who cleanses us, who works through our words to bring people into that amazing relationship we have with God.

Ultimately, there is a time to stop, to listen to breathe.  To pick up my guitar or sit at my keyboard (music not this one) and play… and realize the God who named me as His child, who called me into this ministry, who knows what He is doing.  For if we don’t do that, surely we shall crash, surely we won’t be able to get out of the crud we entered as we ministered to people dealing with it in their lives.  It’s the lesson an old Baptist jail chaplain taught me, as we served together.  He told me when I left the jail, before I started my car to sit there, take a few moments to realize Christ’s promises to me in baptism. to remember that He has cleansed me, that He has taken all the real burdens from me, and that He will never leave me.

That’s a burden that is a blessing, and enables us to do everything else.

May you find the time today to take on His burden/blessings. AMEN

English: fragment of the Gospel of Matthew

English: fragment of the Gospel of Matthew (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1858-1864). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

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