Devotional thought fo the Day:
I don’t know what will happen to me in Jerusalem, but I must obey God’s Spirit and go there. 23 In every city I visit, I am told by the Holy Spirit that I will be put in jail and will be in trouble in Jerusalem. †24 But I don’t care what happens to me, as long as I finish the work that the Lord Jesus gave me to do. And that work is to tell the good news about God’s great kindness. Acts 20:22-24 CEV
Thinking of the love of God as something nice is forgetting that the love of God is the love of God. The awesomeness of God makes the love of God equally awesome. As Rabbi Abraham Heschel, a great Jewish theologian of the twentieth century, said, “God is not nice. God is not an uncle. God is an earthquake.” If you do not like that (one of my students responded to that quotation, “I prefer a God I can handle”; indeed!), then you do not like the love of God, for the love of God is also an earthquake, not an uncle’s love, but a Father’s.
“To die is a good thing. How can anyone with faith, at the same time, be afraid to die? But as long as the Lord wants to keep you here on earth, it would be cowardice for you to want to die. You must live, live and suffer, and work for Love: that is your task” (1037).
I wish I had Paul’s attitude.
I think I am far more like Jonah, who faced a difficult task and chose ot be cast overboard rather than do what God had called him to do.
The is a temptation to run and hid, even if that means embracing death for the wrong reason. For while we know, we are bound to heaven, even though we know God desires us there; eventually, it is not a place to escape the pain and suffering life brings.
We can’t be cowards, abandon our lot in life, and run away. No matter how tempting it may seem.
We have been called to share in the ministry of reconciling people to God. Every single one of us has a role in this. That means we have to be so sure of God’s presence, that we can enter their darkness, that we can break through the gates of hell and endure it, in order to be there and witness God’s love shattering their darkness.
God isn’t the kindly uncle, He is the Father who expects us to take on the family work, to embrace the suffering and pain it will require. To trust Him enough to hand over to Him the things we cannot understand or handle, freeing us to love those we minister too. We need to trust Him enough to let the Holy Spirit comfort us in our distress, as is promised.
That is the key, depending on His promises.
To know that even if we are heading toward imprisonment, or martyrdom, or simply the struggle of our lives, He is with us.
He will see us through. He will be with us through it all…
Lord Jesus, help us to know You, to experience Your love so deeply, that our trust in You overrides our ignorance, our doubt, our fears. Help us embrace the life You have created in us, and called us to live. AMEN!
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 201.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge. Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
12 When Mordecai received Esther’s message, 13 he sent her this warning: “Don’t imagine that you are safer than any other Jew just because you are in the royal palace. 14 If you keep quiet at a time like this, help will come from heaven to the Jews, and they will be saved, but you will die and your father’s family will come to an end. Yet who knows—maybe it was for a time like this that you were made queen!” 15 Esther sent Mordecai this reply: 16 “Go and get all the Jews in Susa together; hold a fast and pray for me. Don’t eat or drink anything for three days and nights. My servant women and I will be doing the same. After that, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. If I must die for doing it, I will die.” 17 Mordecai then left and did everything that Esther had told him to do. Esther 4:12-17 (TEV)
29 The limited and pitiful happiness of the selfish man, who withdraws into his shell, his ivory tower … is not difficult to attain in this world. But that happiness of the selfish is not lasting. For this false semblance of Heaven are you going to forsake the Joy of Glory without end? (1)
There are times in our lives where we want to runaway.
There are times we want to run because of conflict, and we think that peace is found in avoidance.
There are times we want to run away because of the sacrifice we know we will need to make. Sometimes it is not even a major sacrifice, sometimes it is an inconvenience.
There are other times, when we are weary, when we are afraid, when we just want some time to kick back, and rest, because the battle is to hard, the suffering we encounter is to overwhelming.
There are also times when we need to retreat, when we need to walk away and pray. There are times I struggle with this more than I struggle with staying. Sometimes it is a war within myself, as I question myself. Should we stay in place, even beyond our strength? Should we run?
We have to ask a couple of questions, even seek out a confidant to help us examine our situation. We need to ask Why and Where.
Why – am I simply running for my own comfort, my own survival? There is a point, like Esther faced, where running was a matter of selfish self-preservation. A door was opened so that she could do God’s will, in this case to save the people of God. There is a time for a rest, to be ready to re-enter the fray, that is the idea of the sabbath.
Where – This is ahar question. Do I want to run to where the grass is greener, where there appears to be more peace, an easier life? Or do I need to find cave like Elijah, a place to find respite and allow God to bring healing. (if you have encountered this before, you know that it isn’t the easier path.) Am I running from God, or to Him? We need the latter.
Ultimately, the answer isn’t found in a logical examination of our thoughts and desires. And our perceptions can be shaded, and if our lives are turbulent, our thoughts may be as well. The answer is going to found, not in whether we run or not, but whether we realize we are in God’s presence wherever we are. When we realize his unexplainable peace, a peace so different from the world, can sustain us in the harshest of times. That is the key in the times that challenge us and make us want to run, and in the times where we need to find rest and a time of prayer and communion.
Ultimately, it boils down to this: are you where you are at for such a time as this? To be there, that people would know the Kingdom of God is near, that His presence is there to pardon, to love, to heal? Are you depending on your own strength, or on His?
Then you are there for a purpose – take time to rest, ot know God’s presence… and then glorify Him as He works in your life and community… bringing hope and peace, healing and love. AMEN.
Escriva, Josemaria (2010-11-02). The Way (Kindle Locations 228-230). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
17 When they saw him, they worshiped him, even though some of them doubted. Matthew 28:17 (TEV)
343 That passage of the Second Epistle to Timothy makes me shudder, when the Apostle laments that Demas has deserted him for love of this life and gone to Thessalonica. For a trifle, and for fear of persecution, this man, whom Saint Paul had quoted in other epistles as being among the saints, had betrayed the divine enterprise. I shudder when I realise how little I am: and it leads me to demand from myself faithfulness to the Lord even in events that might seem to be indifferent—for if they do not help me to be more united to Him, I do not want them! (1)
I have some friends who I am thinking of, even as I write this blogpost. If you are reading this, you probably are not them…. but it might apply anyway.
They are facing challenges in life, hard challenges, painful challenges. Enough so that while praying that they would see God revealed in their life, considering what they’ve gone through brings tears to my eyes. I can’t know the pain as deeply of course, ,but the pain is visible and tangible.
And the temptation is to walk away from the one place where their hearts can be lifted, where they can find peace.
How do I know this? Been there, been tempted to walk away once or twice…heck who am I kidding. It’s a lot more than that, and I have. As the prodigal found out, it isn’t better there. Not even close. the scars get bigger, the healing doesn’t come, the loneliness seems to grow and dominate, as does the despair.
St. Josemaria gets the point, the more I walk away, the littler I become. The answer isn’t running away, trying to slide away unnoticed, as if the pain will simply dissipate….
I’ve found the answer is to embrace God even more strongly, to bug him like the old lady bugged the judge, to yell at Him like Jeremiah does in chapter 20 of his book, to try and wrestle with him as Jacob/Israel did. To trust Him so much that I can doubt what’s going on, and I can express my doubt that He is present. That kind of doubt takes faith, faith that He won’t turn us away if we are blunt and honest. Trust that will work out in our lives, as that trust in His presence, His love and care allows us to dump all the crap in our lives onto the cross – where it will die with all sin and shame.
Don’t run away, don’t walk… come back, join us who struggle with our faithfulness – and trust in His. Let us encourage each other, for these last days… we need that encouragement, that reminder of God’s presence..
For that is having great faith.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 1595-1600). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.