Thoughts to encourage us to cling to Jesus… and adore Him.
24 “Now when the LORD your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. 25 If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the LORD your God has chosen. 26 When you arrive, you may use the money to buy any kind of food you want—cattle, sheep, goats, wine, or other alcoholic drink. Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household. 27 And do not neglect the Levites in your town, for they will receive no allotment of land among you.
28 “At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. 29 Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied. Then the LORD your God will bless you in all your work. Deut. 14:24-29 NLT
What grief and despair did Lazarus feel in his last hours, knowing that Jesus could have come and did not come? This divine action challenges our idea of God, our idea of Jesus Christ, our idea of the spiritual life. Surrender to the unknown marks the great transitions of the spiritual journey. On the brink of each new breakthrough there is a crisis of trust and of love.
This mornings devotional readings seemed. all over the place. As is my preference, I try to put together what I read into one thought. into one concept, that I can apply to what I will encounter that day. Today,
This morning’s devotional readings seemed. all over the place. As is my preference, I try to put together what I read into one thought. into one concept, that I can apply to what I will encounter that day. Today, finding that message seemed challenging, none of the readings, from scripture, and from the sections of devotional reading came close.
My heart resonated with Keating’s words about suffering, about what went through the heart of Lazarus as he waited in vain for Jesus to come. We read it an know Lazarus will rise from the grave, but he did not, for neither did his sisters. How dark that road must have seemed! How lonely and forsaken. So our days, our roads seem at times, as we suffer, as our hearts cry out… and there is no answer.
I think then of the tithe, something we don’t understand all that well. At least the tithe Moses describes. Imagine working hard, separating out the tithes, and then realizing you must leave everything behind, and journey over steep mountains to get to a place – to present the tithe. It takes faith to leave home and flocks and fields behind. It takes trusting God to make the rugged journey as well.
But then, the reason for this tithe (there were several) was to throw a party, to celebrate in the presence of the Lord! To use all that was to be sacrificed, but the sacrifice was to celebrate what God had provided (and was taking care of in your absence!) Is this a forerunner of the feast in Heaven? Perhaps… no probably.
Amid feelings to the contrary, in the midst of pain, grief, sorrow, and even depression, the idea of that tithe is powerful. That God wants this celebration – all the best food, the best drink, reminds us that the journey is not the destination. That the suffering and darkness will give way to light, and a life of great joy. That even the power of sin will be silenced, and the guilt, shame and resentment it causes is erased. For we will be in the presence of God…. God who loves us.
The answer to our darkness and despair always comes as we find ourselves being moved to the celebration, to the feast, to the moment where everything else is left behind to know He is God.
Soon my friends, the party will begin, and from the blessings God has poured out on us, we will bring to celebrate with Him. Invite the stranger, the alien, the pastor to, for together, we share in the love and glory of God. Till then, one step in front of the other, and think of the promised feast at the end of the journey.
Keating, Thomas. 2009. The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living: Excerpts from the Works of Father Thomas Keating, O.C.S.O., Sacred Scripture, and Other Spiritual Writings. Edited by S. Stephanie Iachetta. New York; London; New Delhi; Sydney: Bloomsbury.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 Shout praises to the LORD! Praise God in his temple. Praise him in heaven, his mighty fortress. 2 Praise our God! His deeds are wonderful, too marvelous to describe. 3 Praise God with trumpets and all kinds of harps. 4 Praise him with tambourines and dancing, with stringed instruments and woodwinds. 5 Praise God with cymbals, with clashing cymbals. 6 Let every living creature praise the LORD. Shout praises to the LORD! Psalm 150:1-6 (CEV)
5 Your anger lasts a little while, but your kindness lasts for a lifetime. At night we may cry, but when morning comes we will celebrate. Psalm 30:5 (CEV)
965 I have been thinking of all the priests throughout the world. Help me to pray for the fruitfulness of their apostolates. ”My brother in the priesthood, please speak always about God and, when you really do belong to him, your conversations will never be monotonous.”
The individual’s interaction with God is never dull or routine. At least, it should not be.
There are going to be times of great joy, and times of sorrow and grief. There will be times were we lash out in pain and anger, and times were His comfort will be all we have, for we are crushed by despair. Every emotion that we feel can and should be revealed by us to God, for He knows how we feel.
He even knows how we feel when it becomes necessary for Him to correct us. The hurt and pain we feel, when we admit we have sinned, the grief and shame that comes with the guilt.
If this is true for the individual, it should be true for the church as well.. We are to laugh and cry together (see Romans 12:15), therefore our worship services should have true emotions in them.
That is why we should be emotional as we speak about God, the God we know, the God in whom we are not afraid to cry or laugh, for we know His love. That is why we plead with be to let Him reconcile them to Himself. Growing comfortable in His presence is not about taking God for granted, but letting Him see us as we are….
And knowing He loves us.
Allowing our emotions to show doesn’t mean putting on false displays, or manipulating the congregation. It means simply living life, comfortable in the presence of God.
Let’s be real with Him, and in our communities… Amen!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Encounter God and Commune
May the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ convince you of the feasts to come, and that you will dwell in peace until those days are here.
74 out of 2.4 Million
It struck me, as I was starting to write this sermon tonight, that while 74 of the leaders of Israel communed with God that night, it was 74 out of 2.4 million people camped there at Mount Sinai.
Those their share in the covenant meal, on behalf of those who were below.
I have to wonder if those gathered in the presence of God, eating and drinking, were aware of those who were not there with them? Did it affect their mood?
What about for the apostles in the upper that night, some 1990 years ago. Did some think of who they wished were there?
This is getting me to think of all those I wish could be here, when things are normal, and who are not.
Some of those people are far away, in places like New Hampshire, or Sicily, or Michigan.
Others are in heaven, friends, and family who rest in God’s peace.
Some have moved on to other places, other churches.
Some, sadly to say, are struggling with sin, and are losing. Or they don’t know God loves them, and are not ready to listen to that news… quite yet.
There are a lot of people that I wish could be here… and yet, there is just a handful.
Let’s look back to the feast in Exodus, for there, we will find peace, and hope – that is a vision for the future.
But look at the feast – and what didn’t happen.
I want to read one verse again, listen to it well,
1`11 And though these nobles of Israel gazed upon God, he did not destroy them. In fact, they ate a covenant meal, eating and drinking in his presence!
I love this picture!
There they are – in a room blazing with brilliance, the glory of God reflecting off of everything. A light that only God’s holiness could create! Looking at God – gazing at him! They mouths dropped open, then eyes bugged out wide,
Despite the fact they were sinners, they were welcomed into God’s presence, so welcome they were fed a meal guaranteeing the relationship with God – for that is what a covenant meal is – that is what communion is, a meal to celebrate the relationship. It is given as a guarantee of it.
Eating and drinking in the presence of God.
With no fear of His wrath, with no hint of wrath or even disappointment on the part of God.
This is a little picture of a more substantial feast to come.
As is this covenant feast at this altar tonight.
This isn’t the feast we long for, it just helps our desire for that feast.
Just as that feast in Exodus, pointed to this- yet, even more, pointed to the feast when we all arrive before the throne.
Knowing that we can share in the suffering…
While we cannot share in the feast together this evening, there is another way we can commune, something else that we are sharing in….
When Jesus asks the apostles to wait and pray with Him when he faced suffering.
We need to realize He was doing that for those disciples and for you and me.
It is the tears that Romans describes us sharing in together; as one cries, we all dry, and when we laugh, we share in that as well. This is what He invited the apostles to
We surely share in this, and as we do, as we find a bittersweet communion. Bitter because what we are going through is hard, it requires us to forgo one of the usual ways God strengthens and nourishes our faith, and reminds us we are His family, that we are one.
And yet to realize how much we miss it, has an oddly similar effect, as we long to share in the feast that will eventually take place.
Desire the Feast – and yes, the feasts to come.
The feast that is yet to come, the feast of the bread and wine, the feast of being welcome home into not only Jesus’ presence but the presence of the Father.
Not just a small percentage, but the entire people of God, Old Testament and New, Jesus and Gentile, the entire one, holy, catholic and apostolic church, united in Jesus Christ.
This is our hope, our expectation, and nothing can separate us from it, for we cannot be separated from our God. AMEN!
Devotional Thought of the Day
10 Jesus said, “I am telling you the truth: the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who goes in through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him; the sheep hear his voice as he calls his own sheep by name, and he leads them out. 4 When he has brought them out, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow someone else; instead, they will run away from such a person, because they do not know his voice.” GNT John 10:1-5
This word is expressed with great fervor and overwhelming joy, in which her soul and life lift themselves from within in the Spirit. Therefore, she does not say, “I magnify God,” but “My soul magnifies the Lord.” As if she wished to say, “My life and my whole understanding soar in the love, praise, and sheer joy of God, such that I am no longer in control of myself; I am exalted, more than I exalt myself to praise the Lord.” Thus it happens to all in whom godly sweetness and God’s spirit has poured, that they experience more than they can describe. It is not a human work to praise God with joy. It is a joyful suffering and God’s work alone and cannot be taught with words but only by personal experience. As David says in Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.” David puts tasting before seeing because this sweetness cannot be comprehended unless one has experienced it for oneself. No one attains this experience without trusting God with one’s whole heart in the depths and in the distresses of life. Therefore, David adds, “Happy are those who trust the Lord.” They will experience God’s work and will obtain God’s sensible sweetness and, through it all, understanding and knowledge.
Some may resolve not to speak for the Lord, but like Jeremiah, they find they must: “If I say, ‘I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,’ then within me there is something like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot” (Jeremiah 20:9 NRSV).
J. B. Phillips said somewhere that, while he was doing his well-known translation of the New Testament, he often felt like an electrician working on the wiring of a house with the power on.
The first thing that struck me today in my devotions was this line from the middle quote, “ No one attains this experience (joy) without trusting God with one’s whole heart in the depths and in the distresses of life.”
That sounds counter-intuitive at first. And at second glance as well!
But Luther notes why in the sentences beforehand. That we have to discover the refuge God is for us, that coming to realize that He is good. To understand that though, there has to be something to compare to experiencing God.
God doesn’t have to prepare those times of being deep in sorrow, or being caught in distress. The brokenness of the world will provide it, and the brokenness we choose compounds it.
From the brokenness, we find something extraordinary. We find Jesus there, and He is there with only one intention. To deliver us, to rescue us, to bring us home to the Father. ( He is so different from the older brother in the story of the prodigal son!) Jesus knows the Father’s heart, a heart that is restless until His wandering children come home to be rescued.
That is why Luther holds Mary up, as he explains the words of the Magnificat (it is a letter to a prince explaining the Magnificat – Mary’s song of praise in Luke 2) That this comes. True Worship, praise, adoration is not possible without God, and without the experience of God rescuing us from the midst of brokenness.
We have to learn to hear our Shepherd’s voice, to trust it more and more, to rely on what He has promised to us, mercy, forgiveness, love and His presence in the most intimate ways we can imagine. His body and blood given to us, His Holy Spirit dwelling with us, His presence with us in the midst of darkness, even the dark valleys where death’s threat can seemingly suffocate. He is there,
That’s why Jeremiah, broken, threatened with death, scared, scarred and broken cannot keep silent about the goodness of God! Matter of fact, trying to do so exhausts Him! The power that is experienced when we encounter God. It is undeniable, it is incredible, it is the feeling that comes from knowing you are loved so much by God, that He will go to extremes to bring you into His peace.
And there, in the midst of peace, there is joy. Abundant, unexplainable, mind-blowing joy…found in His presence…
For into the darkness shines His marvelous light, a light that shined for them, for us. AMEN!
Luther, M. (2007). Luther’s Spirituality. (P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey, Eds., P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey, Trans.) (pp. 97–98). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
1 O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! 2 From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, 3 for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. 4 Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings!
Psalm 61:1-4 (NLT2)
How, then, can I learn what it means to be human? What must I do? In his question the teacher of the law mentions a prerequisite that we seldom consider nowadays: if my life in this world is to be successful, I must view it as a stepping-stone to eternal life.
There are days in my life that are dark.
Just like most of you.
We hide from those days, we try to ignore them, and if we can’t, we try to anesthetize ourselves from the pain and emptiness they bring.
Days when I seem lost, when life doesn’t make sense, or when it gets in the way of what I want to do. Especially when what I want to do is serve God? To be with His people? It doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t seem right. It doesn’t seem that I am doing what I have been put here to do, and that dissonant feeling is horrid.
For me, those days have been a major part of life. Recovery from surgeries that left me isolated for months, asthma as a kid (one year I was in school only 40 days more than I was not!) and even the odd flu bug that knocks me out of church, like it did yesterday. Never mind all the fun things with my son and wife that I miss out on, because of health concerns.
Life can suck at times.
Into those thoughts, invading them comes these readings from this morning. First the psalmist, whose words I skim over at first, tacitly and religiously agreeing with them, Yep, I want that, that’s where I should be, there in the presence of God. What is next to read, oh yeah, proverbs?
A couple of readings later, I come to Pope Benedict’s one-year devotion. It’s become a favorite of mine. And his words make me go back to the Psalm and read it again.
My life doesn’t revolve around this mortal life. It revolves around my life with God. An eternity with Him, dwelling in His presence, not just in the stadium, like watching a rock star from the nosebleed seats. But interacting with Him, sharing the joy that comes from knowing the depth of His love.
This life isn’t the end, not even close, it is the dance lessons for our eternal dance with God.
That is exactly what I need to remember in these dark days. What I so missed my people telling me yesterday, as I missed church. What they fire back with me with conviction, as I tell them the Lord is with them
His presence here and now is a start.
And it’s only a start!
Lord Jesus, help us realize that your ministry to us was not just to make us right and holy, but to have a relationship with us, one that will last forever. Lord, help us to dwell with you, in peace! AMEN!
Ratzinger, J. (1992). Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. (I. Grassl, Ed., M. F. McCarthy & L. Krauth, Trans.) (p. 87). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 After all the people had been baptized, Jesus also was baptized. While he was praying, heaven was opened, 22† and the Holy Spirit came down upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my own dear Son. I am pleased with you.” Luke 3:21-22 GNT
16 The cup we use in the Lord’s Supper and for which we give thanks to God: when we drink from it, we are sharing in the blood of Christ. And the bread we break: when we eat it, we are sharing in the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:16 (TEV)
7 On the first day of the week, we gathered with the local believers to share in the Lord’s Supper. Paul was preaching to them, and since he was leaving the next day, he kept talking until midnight. Acts 20:7 (NLT2)
10 Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?” 11 “No, Lord,” she said. And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:10-11 (NLT2)
Moreover, the people are instructed often and with great diligence concerning the holy sacrament, why it was instituted, and how it is to be used (namely, as a comfort for terrified consciences) in order that the people may be drawn to the Communion and Mass. The people are also given instruction about other false teachings concerning the sacrament.
There are several communion services in my life that will always come to mind. One of those had its sixth anniversary this week, as I remember a dozen, maybe a dozen and a half missionaries gathering in Macao one afternoon.
Another was my first Sunday in my journey
It started with hearing the elder say these simple words to people. Bod said, “take and drink, the blood shed for the forgiveness of your sin.” He said it with such confidence, such faith that each word hammered into the hardness of our hearts. I don’t remember anything else, save for one thing, as these words of God were heard, not just
The other thing I noticed was the body language of the people. People I knew from the community, people dealing with more brokenness (I would learn) than I could ever suspect. They approached the altar, hunched over, unable to look up, the burdens of the world, and their own sin so oppressing them. And then, as they received the body of Jesus on their tongues, as they drank from the chalice or the little cups, their bodies changed. They relaxed, the stern reverence was replaced with smiles that were filled with peace, and joy.
I know no other way to explain it, except to say they encountered Christ. They were overwhelmed by His presence, His mercy, His love. And when they sang the traditional Nunc Dimittis after communion, they like Simeon, knew God’s salvation. Not as theology, not as some fact, but something that resonated with every beat of their heart.
That joy allowed them to leave the brokenness behind, it allowed them to be free of what oppressed them. One of my professors would later describe this using the word “incarnational” not restricting the incarnation to an event in the Judean hills 2000 years ago but seeing it happen here. This is what the early Lutherans meant by the sacrament comforting their frightened consciences.
And each of the sacraments does this, baptism, the Eucharist, Confession and Absolution, as we participate, as we share in life with Jesus, who brought us to life in HIs resurrection.
This can’t be adequately explained, even by the best of theologians. The sacraments aren’t something that man has the power to research, to “objectively observe.” But they bring about a healing of our souls, as the promises of God become true for us, as the love of God, in all its measureless dimensions, is revealed, As we are transformed, and that is revealed as well, the glory of God reflecting from us, as it did from
Come, let us adore Him, for the Lord is with us. AMEN!
Tappert, T. G. (Ed.). (1959). Article 24 of the Augsburg Confession: The Book of Concord the confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (p. 56). Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press.
Devotional THoguht fo the Day:
14 Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we have a great High Priest who has gone into the very presence of God—Jesus, the Son of God. 15 Our High Priest is not one who cannot feel sympathy for our weaknesses. On the contrary, we have a High Priest who was tempted in every way that we are, but did not sin. 16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it.
Hebrews 4:14-16 (TEV)
290 Joy, and supernatural and human optimism, can go hand in hand with physical tiredness, with sorrow, with tears (because we have a heart), and with difficulties in our interior life or our apostolic work. He who is perfectus Deus, perfectus Homo—perfect God and perfect Man—and who enjoyed every happiness in Heaven, chose to experience fatigue and tiredness, tears and suffering… so that we might understand that if we are to be supernatural we must also be very human. (1)
Tomorrow in church we will use the Athanasian Creed, an incredible wonderful set of words that describe the nature of God who is so much more than we can understand or conceive. It first describes Father Son and Holy Spirit (or for us older folk Holy Ghost). Mindblowing in both its simplicity and complexity. Very appropriate as we dedicate the day to thinking about the Trinity, this majestic and glorious God, who has revealed Himself to us.
The second aspect I want to deal with here, well sort of…
It describes, as best as one can, the divine and human nature of Christ. That he is 100% man, 100% divine. Theologians will talk about this ad nauseum, with fancy Latin phrases and epic tomes which make us sound far more brilliant than we are. Where it matters is where the saint who wrote Hebrews mentions above.
Christ has sympathy for us. Not just a sympathetic ear, but true sympathy for us. Or perhaps more accurately, empathy. He’s been here, done this, and instead of having a t-shirt to wear, He has stripes on His back, a gaping hole in His side, and in his wrists and feet. As the scriptures tell us, he endured the temptations we face, (and then some extras!) He experienced the fatigue and suffering, the tears and emotional exhaustion. his sacrifice was on the cross, but it was also His very life. A life that was an offering for us, and to us, to show us the depth of God’s love.
Which is why, broken and weary, tired and drained, even doubting and in despair, we can turn to Him. Or more precisely drawn to Him. We don’t have to avoid the pain, and the sorrow, the tears and the grief. For there, in the midst of the brokenness, we find Jesus, who was broken for us. We find in our Humanity, the Lord and Savior, who loved us enough to become human, and there, at that moment, we find the joy of His making us holy, and supernatural, as we share in His glory.
So if you are preaching tomorrow, remember to link the Trinity to their beloved, remember to mention the Birde of Christ. If you are hearing a sermon, worship with great joy, knowing that God is with you… that He has chosen to share your life, and at that moment, know the peace and joy that is beyond all understanding. For Jesus the Christ is with you, guarding you heart and mind. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1181-1185). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
7 In the same way, there is more joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!
Luke 15:7 (NLT)
18 When the others heard this, they stopped objecting and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the privilege of repenting of their sins and receiving eternal life.”
Acts 11:18 (NLT)
994 If you really want to be a penitent soul—both penitent and cheerful—you must above all stick to your daily periods of prayer, which should be intimate, generous and not cut short. And you must make sure that those minutes of prayer are not done only when you feel the need, but at fixed times, whenever it is possible. Don’t neglect these details. If you subject yourself totally to this daily worship of God, I can assure you that you will always be happy.
Imagine for a second that you’ve been told on the other side of a chain link fence there is 4 million dollars. That it is yours if you can get past the fence. There are ways to get through it, over it, under it, but it can be done. Those ways might include a little pain, but your mortgage is due, your card just died, and the kids are just a few years from needing money for college, and your tax due just wiped out your bank account.
You grit your teeth, determine which way will work, and get to it. After all, the peace of being debt free for a while is worth the effort.
A change of scenario, the debt is not financial. It is spiritual. Do you set your mind on the end result and embrace what it takes to get to the peace you need? Or do you stay where you are at, hounded by guilt and shame, crushed by the resentment and anxiety you feel? Yet we avoid the very blessing that would free us from all that oppresses us, all that holds us bondage.
I can understand those who do not know God’s love for them avoiding repentance, but what about those of us who do? What about those of us who teach about it, and call people to repentance? Why are we so afraid of it? Are we worried how people will react? Or are we worried we will realize how much we need repentance as well?
I chose the three readings above, in hopes that they will show that there is way to get through the fence, to find the peace we need. That even as we do, all heaven, and all those who know that peace will be rejoicing, that they will be rejoicing for us and with us. And as St. Josemaria indicates, a repentant life is one of happiness, a life of cheerfulness, a life that is abundant and worth living.
Because what is on the other side of the fence brings that joy. It is the life that is intimate with God. That lets Him bear our burdens, that lets Him rid us of the anxiety, the resentment, the guilt, the doubt, the pain. It allows us to cast off this sin which so hand us in its grasp, crushing us with its bondage.
No wonder heaven rejoices when one of us repents. (and we all need to!) It is no wonder that the early church rejoiced and praised God, singing of His glory.
Today we enter the season of lent. It is not that we shouldn’t repent daily, but it is a time of learning why, of taking the time to seriously examine our lives, and not for a season, but for life make adjustments. either ridding ourselves of that which distracts us from God, or taking on something which will make us more aware of His presence. I prefer the latter, as it helps our transformation -not because of our efforts – but because we will find His peace life-changing.
Don’t fear repentance, it is time to embrace it, for the joy set before us… is amazing.
So amazing, all heaven rejoices, as will those who love and care about you.
Cry out with faith, “Lord, have mercy!” and then rejoice that He has!
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 4019-4023). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
4 When he finished teaching, he said to Simon, “Push out into deep water and let your nets out for a catch.” 5 Simon said, “Master, we’ve been fishing hard all night and haven’t caught even a minnow. But if you say so, I’ll let out the nets.” 6 It was no sooner said than done—a huge haul of fish, straining the nets past capacity. 7 They waved to their partners in the other boat to come help them. They filled both boats, nearly swamping them with the catch. 8 Simon Peter, when he saw it, fell to his knees before Jesus. “Master, leave. I’m a sinner and can’t handle this holiness. Leave me to myself.” Luke 5:4-8 (MSG)
574 You insist on trying to walk on your own, doing your own will, guided solely by your own judgement… And you can see for yourself that the fruit of this is fruitlessness. My child, if you don’t give up your own judgement, if you are proud, if you devote yourself to “your” apostolate, you will work all night—your whole life will be one long night—and at the end of it all the dawn will find you with your nets empty. (1)
This morning I made it through my devotional time, without a thought that struck me hard. I would think I was just going through the motions, but that is a poor excuse. The reason I enjoy the time I spend in the scriptures, reading through the Book of Concord and Vatican II documents (my goal for this church year) and the writings of St Josemaria Escriva is because one of them reveals to me the presence and promises of God.
i do it so I don’t get into the practice of doing by just going through the motions.
I am in mourning this morning, and that has an effect on me, I am sure. A very good friend from one of my previous congregations passed away, and it is hitting me all to hard. I haven’t seen him in a while, maybe two years…. and I miss him a lot. This is on top of a very emotional week. Two other friends in ICU, and pouring out in sermons on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Sunday the miracle of Christ’s presence, and the desire of God to make us His holy children.
I feel a lot like Peter, as Jesus performs the miracle and fills his boat with abundance. Lord, I am tired, weary, not holy enough to be in your presence. Just leave me alone….. please…..
As I was finishing up with devotions, the very first point in The Forge, is the one quoted in brown above. I knew I had to write on it, and the event that inspired it, the scripture passage.
What I didn’t realize, even as I started writing, having copied and pasted both quotes, was how Peter’s request would affect me. It is how I feel.
Full of remorse,
And yet, all around me, I see miracles, stuff God is doing, there is no other explanation for what is going on….
“Leave me alone, I can’t handle this holiness Lord!” This is Peter’s cry… but it is echoing over and over in my soul.
Even as I am writing this, another passage comes to mind….
26 Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. 27 He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. 28 That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)
I will hang on this this today, despite my wanting to find a cave like Elijah, or the spot David can’t find in Psalm 139, a place where God isn’t. I need to know God doesn’t forsake or abandon us, He is there, a Father who keeps His promise, a Brother who gives His life for us, who bears our sorrows, and iniquities… (taking away our excuse to run because we aren’t holy) and the Holy Spirit, who brings comfort and peace, and takes our cries…and prays for what we really need……
The assurance of God’s presence, and love.
Lord Have Mercy….. and He does!
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 2137-2140). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.