Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day:
67 Then Jesus gave the Twelve their chance: “Do you also want to leave?” 68 Peter replied, “Master, to whom would we go? You have the words of real life, eternal life. 69 We’ve already committed ourselves, confident that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-69 (MSG)
257 The Lord, the Eternal Priest, always blesses with the Cross. (1)
Last night, as we gathered in Bible Study, we talked about Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 12. We talked of how he had a thorn in the flesh, and how he begged the Father in Heaven to remove it, not once but three times. Each time he received an answer. Peter had a similar discussion once with Jesus as well, three times having to hear an answer. We all laughed, knowing that some of us need to hear what has to be said 4 or 5 or even 211 times. Jeremiah accused God of deceiving Jeremiah. St Josemaria tells us that Jesus always blesses with the cross…. but that means there is a cross.
Yeah, there are days like that. Days were we have to give voice to that which flows from our hearts. The pains, the doubt, the brokenness. We can’t bury it, we can’t just ignore it, and let our hearts harden, for then they will surely shatter.
There are times where you have to exhale the poisons in your system, before you can breath in the Spirit. You have to let it go (O gosh – not that phrase! 🙂 ) Prior to seeing the answer that is there.
In the gospel reading above, the crowds have abandoned Jesus. They don’t want to admit the depth of their need, a need that can only be met through the body and blood of Christ be given and shed for us, to be more than just those who observe, but those who are joined to Christ’s death, that we would be joined to His resurrection. With all abandoning Jesus, He turns to the last dozen…..and offers them an opportunity to leave the pain, to leave the discomfort of the message that challenges their nicely fabricated holiness.
Somehow Peter gets it right, No, not somehow rather by God’s grace.
Where else could we go Lord? The best hope we have, the only hope, is to walk with you, through whatever it is that opposes us. It’s the cry of faith, that God is God, we aren’t, and so we trust in Him. Or like a paralytics father cried out, “Yes I trust in you Lord, help me to trust in you!” As odd as it seems, we need the times in Elijah’s cave, we need to have rants like Jeremiah or Moses or David. We need to have the times like Peter on the beach, and like Paul struggling to really hear God, distracted by a thorn in the flesh.
I think that cry of faith can only come from the point where we know nothing else, Where we are broken and weak, the place and time we’ve given up on trying to do it by ourselves. It is then we look up and see that God’s been there all the time. It is then we hear His words, and know they are the words of life. It is then, as we feel His embrace, that we know His mercy, love and peace are endless. Sometimes we don’t realize the value of that, until we face walking away from it.
And then – our hearts lifted by the the words of life, we find ourselves given that life, dwelling in it, for we walk in the presence of God.
(1) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Location 1254). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought of the Day:
St. Paul wrote:
God’s various expressions of power are in action everywhere; but God himself is behind it all. 7 Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits. All kinds of things are handed out by the Spirit, and to all kinds of people! 8 The variety is wonderful: wise counsel clear understanding 1 Corinthians 12:6-8 (MSG)
He then goes on to describe a small list of the gifts the Holy Spirit uses in us, to be a blessing to our congregations, our communities and each other – and indeed the gifts are wonderful, and practical, even the ones that… hmmm… take a while to appreciate.
There are books out there, that advise church leaders on how to deal with “well-intentioned alligators”. The people that eat up our time, and often – our patience. They can cause a church to struggle as well – not just the leadership – and the age old question is, how do we handle them?
Some advise getting rid of them, for the sake of the others, for the peace of the church.
Some advise doing exorcisms, (just joking.. well.. sorta) Some would protect their pastors from them, much as a executive secretary deals with those who would bother a CEO. There are a myriad of options, including tolerating the behavior, or at least no confronting them There may be another option, consider these words…
“Never say of anyboy under you he is no good, for it s you are are no good as you cannot find a place where he will be of use…” (Escriva, The Furrow)
Here is a challenge for all who are pastors, or who assist pastors with pastoral leadership (elders, deacons, deaconesses, etc). Those alligators have a purpose (even if it is to be thorns in the flesh!) and it is a challenge to find the right place. Rarely, as frustrations set in, that might mean bringing them to some other shepherd for pastoral care – that they can serve and be served. But there is a place for everyone in God’s church, and yes, it is the responsibility of leadership – not the individual, to help guide them into that ministry.
In other words – alligators are assets. They can be blessings, they can be an integral part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church (note no caps there). They are, like us, people who God has worked on, and is working on, just as He is us. See them from that perspective first…
and know you walk with God, even as you strive with Him, and with men.
Lord Have mercy, and may that mercy include empowering us to show mercy as well!