Thoughts to draw us to Jesus… and His love.
Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me—nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”
43 Then an angel from heavenu appeared to him, strengthening him. 44 Being in anguish,v he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground. 45 When he got up from prayer and came to the disciples, he found them sleeping, exhausted from their grief. Luke 22:42-45 CSB
That faith which passively accepts all the pleasant texts of the Scriptures while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke.
Usually, as we read the story about the garden of Gethsemane, we focus in on the incredible suffering Jesus sufffers, and the prayers that He prays.
Which is good and right….
And usually, we look at the disciples as a bunch of weak lazy failures, who couldn’t keep their eyes open…. We usually use their failure to stay awake as a sign of their weakness, of their sin. I mean, why couldn’t they down a red bull or a mountain dew or something?
As I was reading the Bible passage show above, I saw something I ahve seen in 50 years of readings and hearing this.
This translation says they were “exhausted from their grief”.
Since I didn’t remember it, I checked a few others …
“worn out by grief” TEV
“exhausted from grief” NLT
“Sleeping from sorrw” ESV, NKJV, NASB, KJV
Emotionally, the week had been draining. There were emotional highs and lows, Lots of people in need, and many of things Jesus taught, well, they were simmering in the souls of these men. Jesus talking about His blessed death didn’t help, nor did that scene with Judas…
And so late in the night, wearing, drained, crushed…. and while we are focused in on Jesus… the Holy Spirit and the scriptures recognize the burden the dsiciples carry… and even then, Jesus is there for them.
Just as God realizes the burdens we carry. And the spiritual exhaustion that is leaving us weak , and needing rest and sleep. Evening to the point of dreading life.
In the morning, Jesus would endure even more… the beatings, the trials, more betrayals, and eventually, the cross.
But even seeing all of that coming, He cared for those who the Father gave Him….He wanted them to know the presence of the Spirit, just as God wants us to know that today in the midst of our grieving, in the midst of the burdens we carry.
He is here… He will provide you the rest for your soul that you need. Just as He was there in the Garden for them, He is there for you in the midst of your pain… and He is here with me…in the midst of my grief.
Rest in His love… even as you take up your cross.. He is there with you…
A. W. Tozer and Marilynne E. Foster, Tozer on the Holy Spirit: A 366-Day Devotional (Camp Hill, PA: WingSpread, 2007).
Devotional Thought of the Day:
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. 34 “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. Matthew 6:31-34 (NLT2)
But we still cannot change God, can we? No, we cannot. But is that why we pray? To change omniscient Love? Isn’t it rather to learn what it is and to fulfill it? Not to change it by our acts, but to change our acts by it.
The fact that God’s love is unchangeable does not change the fact that it is love. It always wills what is best for us. And
Start Reading Pg 148 Tomorrow ×
prayer is best for us. Therefore, we must pray precisely because God’s love is unchangeable. He is unchangeably loving and commands prayer for us.
895 Work tires you physically and leaves you unable to pray. But you’re always in the presence of your Father. If you can’t speak to him, look at him every now and then like a little child … and he’ll smile at you.
Let me be honest, last week was a long, exhausting blessed mess.
It took a while to wake up and get going this morning, and even though I am in my office now, I am still dragging. Dragging enough that I thought I could not pay good enough attention to really make my devotions “worth it.” (Whatever that means!) So I almost moved past them to “get to work” studying scripture and preparing next week’s order of worship.
Logically, at least with what little logic was available, I realized how stupid that sounded. Overlook prayer and time with God to plan… prayer and time with God?
So back to my devotions, and what’s the common topic? Prayer, of course! (God does have a sense of humor!)
And I remembered why I love the practical faith of St. Josemaria! He remembered the ultimate truth about prayer. It is not the flowery words, it is not about the incredible dialogue. It is simply about being in the presence of God, our Father! It is about looking up to Him, unable perhaps to even speak of our need to depend upon Him… and realize He is present – that He is looking at us!
Perhaps that is why the most meaningful time of prayer is when we are simply silent!
From St. Josemaria’s simplicity to Peter Kreeft’s philosophy, where I found the same message. There it takes the essence of why do you pray if God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and unchanging? Are you going to change God’s mind? ( As Abraham thought he might be able to with Sodom?)
Ot is it something more than by struggling with prayer, by seeking God out, we begin to understand His love, His passionate care? In our times of prayer, we learn that He does desire the best for us and actively works in our lives to make it so? That even times of bargaining with Abraham, or the Samaritan woman who argued for her daughter’s healing, God is teaching us the lesson of interacting with Him, and not just using Him as a genie from the bottle?
Think through this… I decided to look up the Lord’s prayer… and missed it by a few verses, coming to those above in red. Which says the same thing…
Leave it in God’s hands…
Look at Jesus, look at the Father… seek them first… and see Them smile.
Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 147–148.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Useless! It’s All Useless! ??
† I.H.S. †
May the grace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ assure you that your life and your ministry is not worthless!
The Feeling of Uselessness
There are times in life when you will put all your effort into your work, or into the work you do here at church.
But when you sit back at the end of a day or a week, you look and wonder why you worked so hard. You wonder why you tried so hard,
And yet, you seem to have accomplished so little.
There are still bills to be paid, dishes to be done, there is still a pile of tasks at work, and the church doesn’t seem to grow the way you would like.
It is not a good feeling, and it can tempt you to despair.
to wonder why things aren’t getting better
to wonder if they ever will.
My friends, we aren’t the first to ever wonder that!
In fact, that is part of our reading from the book of Isaiah. Part of our reading this morning was this,
He said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, and you will bring me glory.” 4 I replied, “But my work seems so useless! I have spent my strength for nothing and to no purpose. Is. 49:3-4
I’ve had days like that, where I know that my actions and thoughts should be bringing God glory, that they should have some tangible results, and yet…
So how do we deal with this feeling?
Why does it exist?
First, we have to identify where it comes from.
The first is simple and often overlooked.
Satan would try to cause us to believe there is nothing to our relationship with God.
He would love to paralyze us, blinding us to the work God is actually doing in our lives,
and through our lives.
You heard that! God does the work through us!
The second cause is our own sin,
When we want to play God and determine the impact and effect of what we do.
You see, we aren’t the ones who determine the results of the actions that God calls us to do, and the Holy Spirit guides us and empowers us to do.
When we demand to know the results, we usually have demanded to determine the actions as well.
What we’ve forgotten is what Paul taught the Corinthians,
5 After all, who is Apollos? Who is Paul? We are only God’s servants through whom you believed the Good News. Each of us did the work the Lord gave us. 6 I planted the seed in your hearts, and Apollos watered it, but it was God who made it grow. 7 It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. 1 Corinthians 3:5-7 (NLT2)
That is what is comes down to sometimes, we want to determine the growth. We want to be in charge, rather than letting God be in charge.
We try to get the results we want, and ignore living and ministering to others in the way He has directed us to live.
Loving Him with all our heart, soul and mind.
Loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. (depending on God’s love to make this happen)
When we demand the results, per our standards, per our expectations, we need to go back and double-check our actions, our plans, and see whether they are in line with His commands.
And if not, repent, and seek the forgiveness that God graciously plans for us.
The Real Answer
The person Isaiah writes about found the same answer, and the way to measure the results.
“Yet I leave it all in the LORD’s hand; I will trust God for my reward.” Isaiah 49:4b (NLT2)
That’s a challenge, to simply place all that we do in the Lord’s hands, to let Him determine how He will use what He directs and empowers us to do.
He is God remember? He is with us! His Holy Spirit dwells in us, gives us the gifts that we have to use in loving Him and loving each other!
Our reward ultimately is when He tells us, “well done, MY good and faithful servant!” Matthew 25:21NLT2
That reward is what is guaranteed when we leave it in His hands!
Remember He makes what is righteous, righteous, and in cleansing us from all sin and unrighteousness, even that is judged righteous!
Without having to worry about how we will be judged, we can simply look at what we want to do, measure it by how it loves God and our neighbor, and if it does, go with it.
That’s why I tell people in the English service, whatever idea you have for this church to minister to others, let’s pray about, make sure it loves God and our neighbor, and ask God to bless it, and do it!
Leaving the results in the hands of our loving, heavenly Father.
Remember, He cares for you… and for the people around you.
He sent Jesus to correct all the times we try to be in charge, when we try to manipulate the results, and when we despair when we don’t get what we want.
That’s why the cross, and that is the final proof of this passage.
You see, the passage isn’t just about us. At the cross, one could easily wonder if the work of Jesus was useless! He had spent his life investing in the people of Israel, and in 12 guys, all of whom betrayed Him.
Sounds useless to me!
What value was it? He didn’t cause great revival during His life, he couldn’t even get 12 guys to get it right.
Yet, His reward is that every knee will bow, and every tongue confess He is Lord.
No, His reward is greater than that. His reward is our homecoming, our relationship with the Father, that He invested His life, and death to re-create
If Jesus didn’t love the Father and love us, the cross makes no sense. But because of that love, it makes sense, and it is rewarded!
Loving the Father who loves us, loving our neighbor, even if they would crucify us… or just make our life inconvenient, and less about…. Us. That is how we live in Christ, that is what makes our life incredible.
We can do that because of His forgiveness, because He heals our souls, because the Spirit, given to us in baptism, empowers that and makes it happen. Look to Him, fall madly in love with God, pray, and let us serve Him together!
1 Why do the nations gather together? Why do their people devise useless plots? 2 Kings take their stands. Rulers make plans together against the LORD and against his Messiah by saying, 3 “Let’s break apart their chains and shake off their ropes.” 4 The one enthroned in heaven laughs. The Lord makes fun of them.
10 Now, you kings, act wisely. Be warned, you rulers of the earth! 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, or he will become angry and you will die on your way because his anger will burst into flames. Blessed is everyone who takes refuge in him.
Psalm 2:1-4, 10-12 (GW)
The delight which the mariner feels, when, after having been tossed about for many a day, he steps again upon the solid shore, is the satisfaction of a Christian when, amidst all the changes of this troublous life, he rests the foot of his faith upon this truth—“I am the Lord, I change not.”
I am getting tired of politics in the church. It literally is sucking the life out of me.
I see a pastor, sharing memes that deride those who are younger than him, those who have little hope because of what they see going on in the world. I wonder if he considers the effects of the youth in his church, and the effect of such memes on them?
I see a parachurch organization, applauding those who blatantly disrespect our country’s president, disregarding scripture and our role as God’s people to be agents of reconciliation. When asked about it, I am mocked for believing what God desires, and what the Holy Spirit calls us to do is impossible.
It doesn’t matter, right or left, traditional or progressive, the hatred I am seeing manifest toward those who don’t agree on this issue, it sucks the life out of me. It brings me to despair, and wonder if the church has completely lost its way. Whether it has forgotten the God who could redeem and reconcile Paul, the God who could change and adulterous and murderous heart of a King, the God who could look out on those who were killing them, and ask the Father to forgive them..
Do we believe God still reigns? Or do we, like the people described in Psalm 2 simply want to toss God aside, and ignore the fact we are all part of His creation.
My mind tells me that the church no longer trusts God, and that is why such things happen
my heart lies broken.
My soul tries to wait, hoping beyond hope that God will keep His promise.
Weary just after breakfast, I come into my office, I see Spurgeon’s words first, and long to be the spiritual version of the sailor he describes, who tired form the storm, finds rest and relief as his feet land on solid ground.
I find that ground in the storm, in a God who can laugh at the wayward children who need to be reminded of His presence. Who need to be corrected, who need to be reminded that God is still God, that Jesus is still our Savior, and our Lord. That even now, in our brokenness in our frustration, in our anger at others and our lack of faith in God.
God is still desiring our embrace,
God is still wanting us to take refuge, to find our safe place within His love.
God is still here, willing to clean up the damage our lack of faith in Him, to heal the brokenness caused by of all the political crap we experience.
God hasn’t changed, He’s the same God who brought Matthew the Tax Collector and Simon the Zealot together.. and sent them with others to bring His people into the world. They were far more polar opposite than any extreme we see in American politics today… and in Jesus, the found unity and the ability to serve people together.
May we have the faith, the dependence on God to see such happen in our days as well.
C. H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1896).
The devotional thought of the day:
12 Jesus heard them and answered, “People who are well do not need a doctor, but only those who are sick. 13† Go and find out what is meant by the scripture that says: ‘It is kindness that I want, not animal sacrifices.’ I have not come to call respectable people, but outcasts.” Matt 9:12-13 Good News Translation (TEV)
Neither illumination nor contemplation but rather spiritual attack (tentatio) concluded Luther’s engagement with scripture. For him, when the Holy Spirit breaks our reason and reveals to us the true intention of God’s word, we are not drawn into some sort of heavenly realm or closer contact to the divine by our effort. Instead, all hell breaks loose. The flesh, the world, the devil and any other anti-spiritual power attempt to wrest from the believer the comfort of God’s unconditional grace and mercy. No wonder the psalmist cried out for deliverance from his enemies in Psalm 119!
One of the most serious temptations that lead us to break our contact with the Lord is the feeling of defeat. Facing a combative faith by definition, the enemy under the disguise of an angel of light will sow the seeds of pessimism. No one can take up any fight if, from the outset, one does not fully trust in winning. Those who begin without trust have already lost half the battle.
People are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to by him. God’s visits to Adam and Eve in the garden, Enoch’s walks with God, and the face-to-face conversations between Moses and Jehovah are all commonly regarded as highly exceptional moments in the religious history of humankind.
Aside from their obviously unique historical role, however, these moments are not meant to be exceptional at all. Rather they are examples of the normal human life God intended for us: God’s indwelling his people through personal presence and fellowship.
When 3 of my devotional readings go in a certain direction, it is not unusual. When four do, when I see how they resonate, the lesson just is about to burst forth, not from the readings, but through experience. So it is today;
I guess I will start with Luther’s thoughts, about this idea that the way we learn about God, is found in its last step in a fight, in the tension and battle that comes as all hell breaks loose, and Satan tries to wrest from us the comfort of the Holy Spirit, the comfort that is found in His cHesed, that incredible combination of love and mercy and peace that comprise what we call grace.
The fight is echoed in the words of Pope Francis, as we deal with an unnatural pessimism, a moment of despair and depression that is not like normal depression but is contrary to it. As Satan tries to convince us that God wouldn’t care about us, that God sees us as riff-raff, as not worth His time or interest. We know this is not true, yet, it is so hard to shut out the voice of the ones who are masquerading as messengers of God.
It is hard because we struggle to see ourselves as God does, as the beautiful, pure, bride, set apart as the bride of Christ, as one who deserves the respect and admiration of God. Instead, we see ourselves as those who are broken, not worthy of a glance, nothing close to deserving respect.
Yet we often treat the church as if it is the place we have to demonstrate how respectable we are. We might pretend, dressing us, smiling and saying we are okay when people ask, smiling and greeting each other as if every day was a party. When what we really feel like is staying home, hiding under the blankets and ignoring the world.
I think this is enhanced by how we see what some call the heroes of faith, the incredible men and women we see described in the Bible. Except we forget that Moses was running from Egypt, a prince hiding out with sheep in the wilderness. That Abraham was an exile looking for his home and future as well, that David wasn’t the hero, but the man broken by his sin, and then by the sins of his children.
As shattered as we are, yet…
Willard reminds us that they are examples of a normal human life and that God was present, and lived with them. That God walked with them in their brokenness, even as He walks with us. They are not exceptional, their walking with God, finding hope there, is our example, for we can as well.
After all, Jesus didn’t come to snob around with the perfect and respectful. He came to draw outcasts, broken folk, exiles and those who struggle to get out of bed every morning. Because He loves us…..
And Satan will unleash all of hell to stop us from experiencing this, and in that tension, we find God’s comfort, that He is our refuge, our sanctuary, and our hope.
We are His people, He is our God… and He is calling us to His side, so He can comfort and heal us, the children He loves.
Let us pray, Heavenly Father, in the midst of trials, in the midst of brokenness, and when it seems all hell is breaking loose. Help us to see Your glory, revealed in Your love and your comfort. AMEN!
Wengert, T. J. (2007). Preface. In P. D. W. Krey, B. McGinn, & P. D. S. Krey (Eds.), P. D. S. Krey & P. D. W. Krey (Trans.), Luther’s Spirituality (p. xiv). New York; Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press.
Pope Francis. (2013). A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. (A. Rossa, Ed.) (p. 352). New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis.
Willard, D., & Johnson, J. (2015). Hearing god through the year: a 365-day devotional. Westmont, IL: IVP Books.
Devotional Thought of the day:
Elijah was afraid and fled for his life. He went to Beersheba, a town in Judah, and he left his servant there. 4 Then he went on alone into the wilderness, traveling all day. He sat down under a solitary broom tree and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life, for I am no better than my ancestors who have already died.”
5 Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree. But as he was sleeping, an angel touched him and told him, “Get up and eat!” 6 He looked around and there beside his head was some bread baked on hot stones and a jar of water! So he ate and drank and lay down again. 1 Kings 19:3-5
Therefore St. Bonaventure says that sinners must not keep away from Communion because they have been sinners; on the contrary, for this very reason they ought to receive it more frequently; because “the more infirm a person feels himself, the more he is in want of a physician.”
880 Don’t let your defects and imperfections nor even your more serious falls, take you away from God. A weak child, if he is wise, tries to keep near his Father.
There he was. seemingly victorious, and yet, he was devastated. He longed to die and saw no hope in continuing to live. He wasn’t suicidal, but he was so broken he couldn’t go on anymore. He was overwhelmed by sin, his own and that which he observed.
Even though I am a simple pastor, I’ve seen that frustration in lay people and pastors, as despair and frustration just tire us out so much we cannot even see the progress we have made. If I am honest, I’ve felt that way more than once.
Instinct in those times drives us toward isolation, but there is no solace there. In fact, isolation only leaves us more time to contemplate our despair, to feel more overwhelmed, more alone, more… abandoned…not just broken, but shattered.
Elijah wakes up to a meal prepared for him, a meal prepared by one sent by God to encourage him, to lift him up, to restore his vitality so he can journey a little farther down the road. Eventually the journey, through storm and fire, through his spiritual and mental fatigue will bring him to the place where he will hear God. Where Elijah will be ready to hear God.
For me, in those moments of brokenness, my one lifeline is being cared for and fed by God. It is as Bonaventure notes, it is in these times we need to receive it more frequently. It is the feast set out for those who are broken and weary. Not just bread from angels, but the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus. The feast where He gives us His own body and blood.
It is our feast.
The feast for the Broken
A time when I can realize God is restoring what is broken, where He heals that which has been ravaged by sin. A time just like Elijah, yet shared with friends and the family of God. A time of great peace, and healing, and rest.
As I still have moments where brokenness is profound, where I still want to run away, where I wonder if my life will ever bee less broken and make a difference, I have learned something. To wait it out, to look forward to the next time we gather together and are provided bread from heaven.
The nourishment we need for the journey, the blessed feast for those of us broken and shattered.
This feast, whether we call it communion, the Lord’s Supper, or the Eucharist, it is the feast for the broken, the turning point where we find such grace and peace that the journey itself changes. He will provide it, and the Spirit will draw us to it.
This is the hope we need, this is what will satisfy our hunger.
De Liguori, A. (1887). The Holy Eucharist. (E. Grimm, Ed.) (pp. 224–225). New York; London; Dublin; Cincinnati; St. Louis: Benziger Brothers; R. Washbourne; M. H. Gill & Son.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way (Kindle Locations 2025-2027). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. 20 Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:19-20 (MSG)
“We are children of God, bearers of the only flame that can light up the paths of the earth for souls, of the only brightness which can be never be darkened, dimmed or overshadowed” (1). Responding to our divine vocation demands a constant warfare. Our fight is not a noisy one as it takes place on the battlefield of our ordinary life, for to be “a saint (…) doesn’t mean doing strange things. It means a daily struggle in the interior life and heroically fulfilling your duty right through to the end” (60). We must accept that there will be defeats in this interior fight, and we may be threatened with the danger of discouragement. That is why the Founder of Opus Dei constantly instilled in souls that cry of Possumus!—”We can!”—of the sons of Zebedee.6 It is not a cry that arise from the presumption but from a humble trust in God’s Omnipotence.
There seems to be today a resurgence in the concept of the superhero. People who take on great odds, and despite fighting in themselves a war, work for righteousness There’s the movies, of Captain America, Iron man, Thor and their crew. There is always the Star Wars and Batman and Superman. There are now television shows that link the Flash and what has become a favorite, the Arrow.
It thinks they are becoming popular for the same reason their comic books became popular after World War II. In times of great stress, if we can’t be the heroes, we need someone to inspire us, to assure us, to help us know the heroic is possible. In a recent episode I watch, the hero was away, and it was left to the non-super heroes to save the day. But there were interesting discussions about how to survive when the hero wasn’t there to inspire.
As believers, we want to be heroic. Most of us probably not the martyr for the faith type heroism, but the kind that lives the kind of life that a Christian should live. We want to be good people, those who are respected for their moral character, and their love for their family and maybe even community. We might not desire true holiness, but we want to be better than the evil world out there.
In the process we don’t like the struggle, we don’t like what St Josemaria calls being “threatened with discouragement.” It means accepting their will be defeated, but never using that as an excuse. Defeats where sin and temptation get the best of us, where anxiety overwhelms us. We don’t want others to know of these struggles, because if they did, our illusion of righteousness might fail us.
Paul knew this failure well; I love the simplistic nature of Peterson’s The Message as it translates here the struggle.I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work.
That would be most of us, and often as we get more tired, beyond just normal weary, the harder it is not to fall into that trap. The harder it is not to presumptuous about succeeding on our own strength. Our ego calls us to “get er done”, and we push a little more, go out on the edge a little more,
We don’t even have the wisdom, reason or strength to know when we approach the point of burn out; so how can we avoid it? We can’t – and Paul’s epistle explains it. We don’t have to prove Christ lives in us, we just have to trust Him, We have to identify with Him, really to recognize that He identified us as His. He provides the strength, the ability, the power to serve, and His presence, so clear that we trust Him. It knows His presence, His omnipotent presence that allows us to have the humility we need. It is crying out, Lord, help, have mercy, save me, that sees Him answer.
That is where the secret of holiness lies, not in the outward acts that reveal it, but in the discouragement and weariness, where the only option left is to rely on Jesus. Can we bear our cross and walk with Jesus?
Yes, because we are walking with Jesus.
Whether you are weary or energetic, may you have the humility to know Him, and the power of His resurrection, and the love and peace in which you life, for you life in Christ.
Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 154-162). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:
8 GOD also says: “When the time’s ripe, I answer you. When victory’s due, I help you. I form you and use you to reconnect the people with me, To put the land in order, to resettle families on the ruined properties. 9 I tell prisoners, ‘Come on out. You’re free!’ and those huddled in fear, ‘It’s all right. It’s safe now.’ There’ll be foodstands along all the roads, picnics on all the hills— 10 Nobody hungry, nobody thirsty, shade from the sun, shelter from the wind, For the Compassionate One guides them, takes them to the best springs. Isaiah 49:8-10 (MSG)
“And I have grown weary of Christ’s words not to worry about tomorrow. But in His grace I have surrendered to God’s sovereignty and His providence, and it has made me free! (emphasis mine) (1)
778 “I know some men and women who don’t even have the strength to ask for help”, you tell me with sorrow and disappointment. Don’t leave them in the lurch. Your desire to save yourself and them can be the starting point for their conversion. Furthermore, if you think about it carefully you will realise that someone also had to lend you a hand. (2)
I came across the quote above in green this morning, and it resonated with me. It was in a devotion extolling poverty, nor because of the suffering it causes, but because of the clarity it gives, the dependence we need to have on God. It actually made begging sound like a deeply spiritual experience, one leaving us in awe.
I understand to an extent. Though not financially, I’ve spent most of the last year emotionally drained, impoverished you might say. Too much grief, my own and the grief that is shared among friends and church family. We’ve dealt with a lot of illness, too much death, too many people dealing with too many family troubles, financial problems, burdens for others. In the midst of it, I understand the joy of knowing God has provided , I can see hat He has done, how He has sustained, how He will continue to work through it all. I understand that cry of the beggar when he says he’s grown weary of those words of Jesus, the ones that encourage our trust and dependence on Him.
I almost feel like I am one of those Josemaria talks about, the ones who don’t have the strength to ask for help. Or definitely in the group in Romans, where I have to depend on the Holy Spirit to “translate” some of my prayers, because I am not sure how to pray.
That doesn’t mean I don’t trust in God anymore, I do. Matter of fact, perhaps more than I have ever before.
Because He is there in such times, I have seen it, Isaiah’s words are dead on accurate. I know it better than ever. Because He has answered, He continues to form me, He continues to use me to reconnect people to Him. He does walk us through the valley of the shadow of death.
The writer of the prayer in the Celtic Book of Prayer was right, by grace we surrender to God’s Sovereignty and Providence. Big “churchy terms” that need to be broken down, that we need to understand. Simply put, we know that He is here, that our Master is in charge, that He will care and provide for us. He will see us through the storms, for sure. He will also see us through the times after the storms. The times when the weariness sets in, when we catch our breath and realize how drained we are. So drained we can’t cry out, we don’t know what to say, we don’t even know if we are where we should be anymore.
We simply need to remember God’s promise. That He is here… that He will handle it, that He will provide.
These times, they aren’t the worst of times, they are among the most spiritual… for we realize how dependent we are, and can be, on our God.
(1) Celtic Daily Prayer – Meditations day 30
(2) Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 3222-3225). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.