Devotional Thought of the Day.. err Night… well.. you know…
1 As for us, we have this large crowd of witnesses around us. So then, let us rid ourselves of everything that gets in the way, and of the sin which holds on to us so tightly, and let us run with determination the race that lies before us. 2 Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end. He did not give up because of the cross! On the contrary, because of the joy that was waiting for him, he thought nothing of the disgrace of dying on the cross, and he is now seated at the right side of God’s throne. 3 Think of what he went through; how he put up with so much hatred from sinners! So do not let yourselves become discouraged and give up. 4 For in your struggle against sin you have not yet had to resist to the point of being killed. 5 Have you forgotten the encouraging words which God speaks to you as his children? “My child, pay attention when the Lord corrects you, and do not be discouraged when he rebukes you. 6 Because the Lord corrects everyone he loves, and punishes everyone he accepts as a child.”
Hebrews 12:1-6 (TEV)
522 Even on those days when you seem to be wasting time, in the prose of the thousand details of the day there is more than enough poetry for you to feel that you are on the Cross: on a Cross, which no one notices. (1)
In more than one way, I feel like I have been wasting time over the last few days. Nothing has been accomplished, tasks at home and church are going on without completion, and to be honest, the place I am is one of pain, betrayal, incredible frustration and where I am witnessing the brokenness of humanity in ways I’ve never seen before.
It seems like I am wasting time, just waiting to get off a plane and hug my wife and son, and celebrate the Lord’s sacrifice for me, for those I love, including my birth family, my adopted family, my church family, and for all the world. Sunday can’t come along fast enough, as we celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for us as we take and eat, and take and drink, the Body and Blood of Christ.
In the meantime there is this brokenness, both that I observe (tears, frustrations,) and the feeling like I am wasting time.
Even here, this is not death I am facing, it is not the shedding of blood, it is an incredible lesson in depending on God. It’s about fixing my eyes on Christ, about remembering His sacrifice, about realizing I have been united to that death, so that I can survive this life, even trying times such as these. I am driven to the cross to avoid the despair, to avoid the discouragement, for there, standing before my Lord, contemplating His love, in awe adoring Him because of His mercy – there I find the poetry, the craftsmanship that leads me in peace. That poetry Josemaria notes is seen in lives that are broken and healing, in lives that likewise only can find peace there.
The poetry, the poiema of God (the word in Eph. 2:10 which guarantees this isn’t wasting time), healing brokenness. That I can appreciate, in that I can find hope and peace, comfort and even joy. At the cross where He Bled – at the cross where we join Him, at the cross where all is made righteous.
Realizing that, many this LCMS convention is not as much wasting time as I think it is….
Still hurtful, still feel like I have been betrayed… yet God… is working – and that is enough for me to find rest in Him.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1980-1982). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the day:
1 Is there any encouragement from belonging to Christ? Any comfort from his love? Any fellowship together in the Spirit? Are your hearts tender and compassionate? 2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose. 3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. 5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Philippians 2:1-5 (NLT)
That is what Jesus Christ teaches us. Mankind awaited the coming of the Savior for centuries. The prophets had announced his coming in a thousand ways. Even in the farthest corners of the earth, where a great part of God’s revelation to men was perhaps lost through sin or ignorance, the longing for God, the desire to be redeemed, had been kept alive.
When the fullness of time comes, no philosophical genius, no Plato or Socrates appears to fulfill the mission of redemption. Nor does a powerful conqueror, another Alexander, take over the earth. Instead a child is born in Bethlehem. He it is who is to redeem the world. But before he speaks he loves with deeds. It is no magic formula he , because he knows that the salvation he offers must pass through human hearts. What does he first do? He laughs and cries and sleeps defenseless, as a baby, though he is God incarnate. And he does this so that we may fall in love with him, so that we may learn to take him in our arms.
We realize once again that this is what Christianity is all about. If a Christian does not love with deeds, he has failed as a Christian, besides failing as a person. You cannot think of others as if they were digits, or rungs on a ladder on which you can rise, or a multitude to be harangued or humiliated, praised or despised, according to circumstances. Be mindful of what others are—and first of all those who are at your side: children of God, with all the dignity that marvelous title entails. (1)
I have been struggling a lot this week. Serious, soul wrenching struggle.
I originally thought the struggle was with other men, other men who, like me are called to shepherd the people of God. I thought my struggle was with them because of actions and words that I have seen that divide the church more. In one scenario, men are in opposition, not directly, but from bunkers of anonymity. Both claim this is necessary because of a “fear of reprisal”. They actually both use that phrase, but I am not sure who they are afraid of, each other or some mythical third party?
Part of my angst, my struggle is found in wondering if this is Christ-like, or more specifically, if the adversaries think it is Christlike. Even though I resonate with one side more than the other, I am repelled by the actions and secrecy of both sects. To be honest, there are days I want to utter a Shakespearean curse, “the pox on both your houses”.
Until I realize my angst is with neither group, my struggle is not in their ethical challenge. My struggle is with my trust in God, the God whom Joseph had faith, telling his brother that what they meant evil, God used for good. Or the promises of Paul that all things work for good for those who love God, and nothing can separate us from His love.
As I enter the arena of the discussion between these two sects, it must be with an attitude that Paul describes in the red above. Imitating Christ by being on one mind striving for that in love. it is too easy to harangue and argue, to be dismissive and even paranoid. It takes great faith to work for the reconciliation that Christ wants to see in the life of HIs people. If we see that we are reconciled to Him, then er can realize, and only then can we realize, we are brothers and sisters, the family that God loves,
Lord have mercy upon us, and may we love and pray for each other,
Escriva, Josemaria. Christ is Passing By (Kindle Locations 1227-1239). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.