Devotional Thought for the day:
11 Just as underwear clings to one’s waist, so I fastened the whole house of Israel and of Judah to Me” g—this is the LORD’s declaration—“so that they might be My people for My fame, praise, and glory, h but they would not obey. Jeremiah 13:11 HCSB
We have to be candles,
hope and despair,
faith and doubt,
life and death,
all the opposites.
That is the disquieting place where people must always find us.
And if our life means anything,
if what we are goes beyond the monastery walls and
does some good,
it is that somehow,
by being here,
we help the world cope
with what it cannot understand.
We may talk about finding ourselves, or our search for meaning, but I am not always sure we are ready to find ourselves. Each generation has their search, whether it was the boomers in the 50’s and sixties, or the GenX’er, or now the Millenials. Eventually, the majority of the people will settle down into a life that isn’t truly satisfying. A life filled with turmoil, anxiety, uncertainty.
Lite I mentioned, I am not sure we are all ready to find ourselves.
Because the search will lead us into what Brodrick calls the “disquieting place”.
We live there, but we don’t want to find ourselves there, bouncing between optimism and pessimism, between joy and sorrow, in a place which is more often surreal than real.
And to be content there… in the midst of the disquiet, in the realm of the dysfunctional, in the place where balance isn’t found, that is when we truly find ourselves.
Because there, we learn to do what God desires, what God designed us to do.
To cling to Him like a pair of underwear!
Seriously, it is in that place where life spins us back and forth between the extremes that we find our only hope is clinging to God. It is in our relationship with Him that we can find rest and peace, it is in Him that the paradox of life can be put to rest.
In Him, the disquiet turns into a crescendo of praise.
And clinging to Him, we reach outside of ourselves and find that we can help the world cope with what it cannot understand.
It is as we cling to Him, ministry happens…..
So learn to realize the disquiet can be a blessed place as well, and when it isn’t, remember to cling to God like a pair of underwear clings to its owner.
William Brodrick (https://www.northumbriacommunity.org/offices/morning-prayer/ )
Devotional Thought for our days:
11 Just as shorts fit tightly round the waist, so I intended all the people of Israel and Judah to hold tightly to me. I did this so that they would be my people and would bring praise and honour to my name, but they would not obey me.” Jeremiah 13:11 TEV
Loneliness is indubitably one of the basic roots from which man’s encounter with God grew up. Where man experiences his solitariness, he experiences at the same time how much his whole existence is a cry for the thou and how ill-adapted he is to be only an I in himself. This loneliness can become apparent to man on various levels. To start with it can be comforted by the discovery of a human thou. But then there is the paradox that, as Claudel says, every thou found by man finally turns out to be an unfulfilled and unfulfillable promise; that every thou is at bottom another disappointment and that there comes a point when no encounter can surmount the final loneliness: the very process of finding and of having found thus becomes a pointer back to the loneliness, a call to the absolute thou that really descends into the depths of one’s own I. But even here it remains true that it is not only the need born of loneliness, the experience that no sense of community fills up all our longing, which leads to the experience of God; it can just as well proceed from the joy of security. The very fulfillment of love, of finding one another, can cause man to experience the gift of what he could neither call up nor create and make him recognize that in it he receives more than either of the two could contribute. The brightness and joy of finding one another can point to the proximity of absolute joy and of the simple fact of being found which stands behind every human encounter.
“I weep when the Enneagram or the Myers-Briggs analysis replaces the almost erotic intimacy with Christ described by John the Cross in his “Dark night of the soul,” or the stunning challenge to discipleship and companionship presented in some of the great Ignatian meditations on the mystery of Christ. The psychological tools are fun and even helpful, but they create a fascination with oneself and in the end, leave us alone with that fascination. I grow very sad when the paradoxical wisdom of our heroines and heroes is replaced by the strategies and stages of the psychological paradigm. A language that was once very large and awesomely beautiful has been transformed into a language that is very self-centered and very small.)
How closely does God want us to cling to Him?
According to Jeremiah – as tightly as shrunken old underwear clings! (Gulp! How is that for a picture! No object lessons about this in a sermon – please!)
Gosh, that is close, very close!
That is what he always intended, a relationship that is that intimate, that close. That deep, that powerfully intimate and life changing. Nothing is going to get closer!
That is why Webber’s quote in green needs to be understood. There are a lot of great tools for helping people, but ultimately, it comes down to knowing Jesus. That is what sustained saints recognized and unrecognized by the church throughout the ages. This level of intimacy with God that simply leaves us adoring Him with all that we are. The level of intimacy we find in the sacraments, the intimacy that does fill the emptiness that no community can quench on its own.
Look at the way people have chased that kind of commitment, that kind of bond. Of course is our madness with sex and the sensual. But also the many fraternal organizations ( Kiwanis, Lions, KofC, even the Masons) and each tries to create those kinds of bonds and falls short. The same thing for religious groups and orders, they come close and show this intimacy we need can exist, but they ultimately can’t replace a relationship with God.
Oddly, the Jesus movement started by promising this kind of intimacy, then as it morphed over the decades, it dropped that aside in favor of behavior modification and political power and influence. This is why mountaintop experiences like prayer retreats and groups like Cursillo are so effective – they introduce that level of relationship, in a corporate environment. They force us into it, but often fail to demonstrate that relationship is in our everyday life, and in our home church’s worship. It’s there, but we have to learn to see it!
Ultimately, we are talking about a relationship sustained as we interact with God. In the sacraments, in our time of prayer, (remember the ACTS outline – do we take enough time to ADORE Him? We are talking about a relationship where He is allowed and welcomed into our lives, and we understand we are welcome to share in His glory.
The more we experience it, the more we realize our need for it and hunger for it. The more that happens, the more we cling to Him!
Even cling to Him like a pair of old torn shrunken underwear….
He is our God, we are His people. We need Him in our lives, and He wants to be there. This is how it was meant to be….
So go, spend some time with God… think about His love.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series. ( Dr. Webber was quoting Fr. Peter Fink in this passage)