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Another Day, Another Struggle, but that is why there is Hope.

20170124_103703Devotional Thought of the Day:
2  Our LORD, how long must I beg for your help before you listen? How long before you save us from all this violence? 3  Why do you make me watch such terrible injustice? Why do you allow violence, lawlessness, crime, and cruelty to spread everywhere? 4  Laws cannot be enforced; justice is always the loser; criminals crowd out honest people and twist the laws around. 5  Look and be amazed at what’s happening among the nations! Even if you were told, you would never believe what’s taking place now. Habakkuk 1:2-5 (CEV)

We still stumble daily and transgress because we live in the world among people who sorely vex us and give us occasion for impatience, wrath, vengeance, etc.
87 Besides, Satan is at our backs, besieging us on every side and, as we have heard, directing his attacks against all the previous petitions, so that it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict.
88 Here again there is great need to call upon God and pray, “Dear Father, forgive us our debts.” Not that he does not forgive sin even without and before our prayer; and he gave us the Gospel, in which there is nothing but forgiveness, before we prayed or even thought of it. But the point here is for us to recognize and accept this forgiveness.

223      Along the way to personal sanctity we can at times get the impression that we are going backwards instead of forwards, that we are getting worse instead of better. As long as there is interior struggle this pessimistic thought is only an illusion, a deception to be rejected as false. Persevere and don’t worry. If you fight with tenacity you are making progress and are growing in sanctity.

I came across the Luther quote this morning, and it resonated with me.

We stumble and sin far too often. We want to use other people for the reason, but it is still our weakness that allows us to sin. Luther was right, it is not possible always to stand firm in such a ceaseless conflict. Every fall seems highlighted by Satan, emphasized to cause us to grow in despair, and even to doubt God’s presence and work in our lives.

My reaction to the passage from Habakkuk is that I don’t have ot look out into the world to see the brokenness he describes. He could be looking at me, prophetically. Maybe at you as well. I resonate deeply with the question of why do we have ot watch this all?  Why do we have to see the sin and brokenness in the world, and then realize it is just a reflection of our own lives?

I missed out on other things in those passages, and it took St Josemaria to see what I was missing.

It is the impression that I am going backward, not necessarily reality.  It is a deception of Satan, much as he did when he took Peter’s eyes off of Jesus while he was strolling on the waves. (I just realize the winds and waves weren’t the issue to be scared of – drowning was!)  St Josemaria urges us to keep struggling, don’t worry about the progress,  for the struggle is proof of it.

The struggle is proof of God at work in us.

God is still doing what He promised Habakkuk – He is at work, and if we look at Him and see it, we should collapse in awe. God is at work, and even the passage from Luther notes that –  we need to recognize and accept the forgiveness God already provided. He forgave us already! He took care of it!

I didn’t see that beforehand but reminded of His promise, I remember He is there. Perhaps that too is understandable, for God says, “Even if you were told, you would never believe what is taking place now…”  We just have to trust Him that He is at the world, and depend on His view, for He is at work in us.

Mercifully, lovingly, compassionately comforting and healing broken sinners like you and me.

Even before we cry out, “Lord have mercy on me, a poor sinner!” God has, and our healing is beginning and guaranteed to be completed!

AMEN!

Theodore G. Tappert, ed., The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. (Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959), 432.E

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

The Blessing of Being Served… It Changes Things!!

the second devotional thought of this day….

24  Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Hebrews 10:23-24 (TEV) 

This inner life allowed him to experience the divine everywhere: the dentist’s waiting room, traveling around the city on public transport, enjoying a get-together. He sometimes said in Italian, nel bel mezzo della strada—in the middle of the street. “The street is our cell.” One day in 1960, when the alterations in Villa Tevere were finished, Salvador Suanzes, nicknamed Pile, asked, “Father, which of the oratories in this house do you like best?” “The street!” Pile looked astonished. Monsignor Escrivá smiled. “I love all the oratories in this house. But I prefer the street. ‘Our cell is the street’ is not just a nice phrase. And you, Pile, my son, and so many sons and daughters of mine, will often have to make your prayer in the street. And it can be done really well there too! Although, whenever we can, we do it in a church or in an oratory, before our Lord who is really present in the tabernacle.” (1)

I’ve been in a funk, this last week or so… drained of most of my energy, and to an extent, my novel outlook on life.  Seems like the life has been zapped out of me.

I’ve tried to write it off as simply the amount of trauma that I’ve had to deal with, and to be honest, that has been the most I’ve endured since I started serving in churches.  The burdens of grieving over my dad, of friends overwhelmed with financial problems, some with medical problems, some with marital problems.  Watching my right hand in ministry, or maybe I’m his… (sort of like the excellent guitarist he is, we work together like his right and left hands.. not completely aware of the others thoughts and actions.. but boy does it work well!)  go through trauma with both his parents.  Watching two other friends I care about – dealing with addiction issues… the list keeps going… and going…

Until lunch.

Everything changed then.

One of my usual places, where the older hispanic waiter (maybe a few years older than me) always calls me “Father”, because he’s seen me wearing my clerical collar.  He knows I’m Lutheran – but says it doesn’t matter, I am a man of God. (Sometimes I think – boy do I have him fooled!!!  okay more than sometimes!)   The restaurant was busy – they had coupons for “bosses” day, and it was buy your lunch the boss eats free.   They were very busy and short staff.

And so my friend, he couldn’t give me the attention he usually gives.  Running and trying to help the other staff, trying to care for people, trying to manage large groups, I felt bad for him.  Even more when he realized I was in the corner, in his station, and no one had brought me something to drink until I was almost done with my entree.  Later he realized no one brought me chips and salsa ( I had the lunch buffet)  Despite his busyness, he took great pains to apologize, and the hurt of his failure was clear on his face.  He thought he let me down, had not done his best by me.  Even as I admired him out-serving those younger than him.

About that time, i was reading a book about my favorite Catholic theologian/pastor/lover of God.  (yeah it’s a little odd for a Lutheran pastor to admit he really likes a Catholic priests work…but I think there is a lot in Escriva’s work that is Lutheran in theology! Or maybe we are more Catholic than we want to admit) and I ran into the above quote.  I actually downloader twitter to my phone to tweet a summary of it.

As tired as I am, as broken as I feel,  I started seeing Christ’s heart in the heart of a waiter, who hated not being able to care for me.  Not that Jesus ever fails to care for us, but I wonder how our His heart feels when we don’t realize His presence, and how He serves us.  I saw this man, who makes his vocation caring for others, feeding them, nourishing them, making sure they know they are cared for, and that they are welcome in his restaurant.

And I changed.  I am still exhausted to some extent… these last few weeks have been a physical drain as well.  But my attitude is quickly changing, as what I know, what I’ve been preaching about this fall comes fully into focus.  We can’t minister to others, until we let Christ minister to us.  We can’t serve, share, bring healing to others, reveal to them Christ’s love and the peace which He desires to bring Him, until we experience it ourself.

Until we let ourselves be served, cared for, nourished.

My friend will get a copy of this blog tomorrow I think – though I scribbled the thoughts out on the bill… so he could know how he served me – exacrly what I needed… (far more than my diet coke!)  Out there on street, I encountered Christ’s love and care… I saw His heart in work that most overlook.  And in a very quiet way… that has brought joy to this wearied heart.

A good lesson – and I pray.. the begining of a new season of rest…. and serving others!

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