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Posts Tagged ‘discovery’

reinventThere comes a moment in a our lives when we just know that something has to change. The same choices are no longer working and circumstances are fraying the edges of what has been familiar for so long. Sometimes, it’s a dramatic event that calls us to lay down our cards. Other times, it’s recognizing ourselves in someone else. And still other times, it’s a slow descent until the bottom looms large before us, sure to cause a crash and burn.

That, however, is not the way of life you learned when you heard about Christ and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. [Ephesian 4:20-24, NIV]

Before Mike died so suddenly seven months ago, after thirty-two years of marriage, we had fallen into a rhythm of the good life. We had figured out who did what and when; we had quietly negotiated the battles worth waging and those that time would address. We had learned to let go of the “small stuff.” We were committed to both our church and our faith and each other. We were comfortable. We were planning our retirements. We were launching our adult children.

Then everything familiar stopped. Oh, there was some semblance of the old life: the house, the dogs, the young people, the work, the church, and the ever present grass needing to be cut. Dishes and dust and laundry  accumulated faster than I could sweep them away.

transformBut eventually, I began to see that I couldn’t keep trying to keep the old life. I had to allow a “me” to ev0lve that was not defined by the old parameters. I needed to try on some new clothes; I needed to experiment. I needed to move the furniture.

In my case, this has all been about grief playing out and my moving on. But I’m not so sure it’s dissimilar to someone who has yet to consider relinquishing his or her soul rights to God, to the Christ. We can keep on going for a while, but eventually, the tally sheet of good choices and bad choices is weighted to one side or the other. To move into a life of faith takes some reinvention, some experimentation, some practice.

Change comes from within. Change comes with discovery. Change comes with acceptance–of what is now, so that what could be has a chance to grow. But change also comes with stepping onto the stones of the creek, testing the stable ones and skipping over the wobbly ones. I’m just glad I have that Jesus to grab my hand when I lose my balance.

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woman walking labyrinth

But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear [as in adore] him,     on those whose hope is in his unfailing love . . . [Psalm 33:18]

I’ve written about “unfailing love” several times. This phrase captures so succinctly my heart toward God and my faith in God towards me. It’s a mantra. I am resolute.

It’s always a challenge for me to select source material for each day. People think of me as creative but really I’m more adaptive. Give me a kernel and from that I can often spring forward. Over time, my structured responses have been around the seasons such as Advent and Lent, and once, for three years, I plodded through the New Testament. That was a wonderful time of discovery. But at the closure of these efforts, I flounder. I once tried the same kind of slow journey, section or verse by verse, through the Old Testament, and although there were many fascinating moments and stories, by the time I reached the histories, I missed experiencing the message of grace upon which I thrive.

So, today, after a two day hiatus from posting, I am going to attach myself to a Lectionary. The concept of lectionary comes down through the Judaic principle of “appointed scripture readings” according to a calendar or given days. This practice is referenced in the gospels when Jesus is asked to read the day’s assigned passage in the synagogue [Luke 4] and it was from Isaiah 61, a prophecy of his own coming. Although there are various lectionaries from a variety of denominations, I’m not really concerned about those differences. For now, I’ll reference the Episcopalian one I found online.

Art by Delores Develde

Art by Delores Develde

And so it has happened today, that I find myself back to my Beloved and the unfailing love of God through Christ Jesus. And for this year, I will be His bride, for I need the protection and stability of that love and the confidence that my Lord will collect my tears.

You keep track of all my sorrows.     You have collected all my tears in your bottle.     You have recorded each one in your book. [Psalm 56:8, NIV]

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Art by Favianna Rodriguez

Art by Favianna Rodriguez

But while he [the prodigal] was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. [Luke 15:20]

It’s not that I didn’t know what compassion means. And yet, despite reading or hearing the prodigal story hundreds of times, I never put the father in this state: “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” [dictionary.com]

I had always read longing and forgiveness into the father’s response, that he ran to the son out of love and joy. However, I finally see, compassion means that the father was struck by the extent of his son’s calamities and he did the only thing he could do for the young man: show him love and acceptance. The son had punished himself enough already. 

The results of the son’s disastrous choices were all over him. Where he had left the family home as a gallant young “prince” among men; he had returned as a slave. And although he would never again be landed (since the he wasted away his inheritance), he was still a son. Life would not be the same in that household: from that point forward, I am guessing the son would have to serve both his father and his brother. He would have to work. And if he wanted an independent life, he would have to create it for himself, save money and rebuild. The one thing he would have was safety and hopefully, a willingness to be instructed.

When I was so sure I knew my way, I too floundered. I wasn’t given my inheritance (for there was none really, in my family’s poverty), but I knew how to work hard and support myself. But I spent all of my money unwisely. I indulged my fantasies without examining them. I looked at the “good life” and yearned for it. And since I couldn’t have it in reality, I tried to have it in reflection: dress that way, spend that way, play that way, drink that way. But of course, the “way” continued to be a pretend world.

I was on a downward spiral. And although I never hit rock bottom as so many must before they turn back or step out of the maelstrom, the direction I was heading is so clear to me in in hindsight. Drugs, alcohol, and carnality were my daily bread. I was not a slave to them yet, but soon. From this, like the prodigal, I turned and tried on the arms of God. I am one of the lucky ones.

But I still have that personality. I still make impulsive choices, I can still spend recklessly, and I indulge both my whims and my children. I still have an addictive personality and can become somewhat obsessed with an idea or incident or food or whatever. I even catch myself yearning for the mega millions jackpot, as though money alone would solve my woes.

It took me a long time, really, to become a true believer, a Christ follower, a Christian even. I could never quite believe I’d done it, given up that other dream of fame and fortune and notoriety in the Big Apple. For the longest time, I went through the motions of extreme faith from “not quite authentic” manifestations of the charisma to dancing and laughing and anything else that would keep my mind occupied and keep me busy. I just kept adding and adding to my plate.

But today, I see that my plate is being stripped away. And I am getting back to the truth of me. And I know my God has compassion for me now just as He/She did when I came to the Spirit quite raw. I am not that other kind of prodigal anymore. I am shedding the layers of “shoulds” and working toward the inner sanctuary of my heart to a me I have never revealed before or known. She has been lost for a long time.

 

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Based on Genesis 1:1-31

Here’s what I’m thinking: there is a pattern to the creation story that can be replicated in my own spiritual renewal journey. The one I started yesterday. Again. Of course, each day is a new journey and each valley makes for a different trek up the next mountain. I know that. But for the sake of reflection, here’s what I picked up from the 7 day model.

Day One: Light, or discovery. See Renewal and Light post. It’s when a person realizes that something has to change.

Day Two: Separation (like light & darkness, water & sky). It’s really a way to get some order out of chaos. This will be my next challenge and it would be lovely if it would only take a day, but I’m thinking I’ll be at this stage for awhile. Everything got away from me and it’s time to do some sorting: save, toss, or give away. Those are the choices.

Day Three: Growth. Once there’s a little order, then there’s breathing space for growth (vegetation started on this day) and I can see how important it will be to build on what I discover.

Day Four: Time and Milestones. When God placed the sun and the moon and the stars, in my mind, these became a type of measurement. Time was established and the rhythms of life. And so it is in a time of renewal. As there is growth, then there need to be milestones and landmarks along the way. That’s the way I’ll be able to remember. It’s important to mark the time.

Day Five: Multiplication. This is interesting to me that the multiplication part actually starts before the big Kahuna was created (human beings). So, that means, that while I am growing and marking my development, I will also be multiplying “self.” That is, the self that I am becoming, the learnings, the developments, the comprehension, and maybe, if I can sustain this journey, the wisdom.

Day Six: Human (in God’s image). That’s huge. True humanity is true holiness and godliness. I’d love to think I could “arrive” at human one day, but instead, I know, there are only glimpses on this side of heaven (as it were). But there are moments and in those moments, there is love and kindness and generosity and thoughtfulness and patience and transparency and selflessness and yes, even sacrifice. That is Human to which God wants us to aspire.

Day Seven: Rest. Selah (pause and calmly think about that).

And then start all over again. Thanks God for taking me along this way again. Thanks for giving me a “Way” to you. You laid it out even before you sent the Christ.

Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

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What is the Word? Some say it is the Christ Himself, some say it is the “whole of divine revelation” and some say it is the Gospel message. There is agreement however, that this Word is an instrument of disclosure and exposure.

Hebrews 4:12a, 13
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, . . . Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

My first image is that of Adam and Eve who are the first to experience the penetrating power of “the Word.” Not long after the eating of the notorious “apple,” God comes seeking them in the garden, calling out even, “Where are you?” They hide. We are still trying to hide today.

People smile at the ludicrous behavior of Adam and Eve, after all, how can they expect to hide from their all-knowing, all-seeing God? And yet, we believe we can cover up our own sins, thoughts, and actions. We put fig leafs on our brains and our hearts.

I think God knows all along what is happening within. The real problem is getting Human to face the truth of ourselves.

People have asked me why we should bother to pray if God knows everything and I maintain that prayer is really about our own discoveries. What is important? What is a hindrance? Where are we kidding ourselves? What is the desire of the heart?

Sometimes, God uses the Christ through the Holy Spirit to cut through the bull crap with a sword — the sword of truth. Like the “refining fire” that burns up the dross of our hearts, so the sword must sometimes cut away the dead stuff that prevents us from growing and healing. Like irrigating an infected the wound, it may hurt in the process, but the repair will move more swiftly later on.

Lord, I embrace your Word and your Sword.

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I can’t imagine having so much of the spirit of Christ within me to have an overflow. Like Jesus and the woman with the “issue of blood,” when she touched him, he didn’t feel the touch, he felt the power go out him.

Acts 19:11-12
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.

And here is Paul, with such an overflow that handkerchiefs and aprons which had come into contact with him curing people. I know there have been charlatans throughout the ages who have sold pieces of garments or cloths saying that they were blessed and prayed over and as a result had healing power. This is not like that. This is the overflow. Paul didn’t touch the clothing and then say, “take this and put it on her wounds to heal her.” It was just overflow.

One of my favorite Christian movies is The Robe with Richard Burton. This idea that Jesus’s garments had power is traditional. To my knowledge, there is no reference in scripture that his robe went on to do powerful healings on its own. But if small items like handkerchiefs that Paul touched were powerful, wouldn’t it make sense that Jesus’s garments would have some of that same overflow power?

Another piece of fabric that has always intrigued me is the cloth that was laid over Jesus’s face when he was interred and then, after his resurrection, it was neatly folded off to the side. [John 20:7] Who folded it? I’m thinking Mary, his mother was there, but of course, that is mere speculation. I certainly don’t think Jesus rose from the dead and then straightened things up before leaving the tomb and folded his face cloth. And I wonder, was there overflow power in that small thing as well? Of course.

How does cloth carry power? I think it’s like aroma. It permeates natural fibers. How often have we heard that people can still smell a loved one’s scent on their clothing. Overflow power works the same way.

2 Corinthians 2:14-15, it says, “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing.”

He’s overflowing into us…. into me. My presence in the midst of others should be a pleasing aroma by the presence of the Holy Spirit. It’s so simple… just be a handkerchief and touch those in need.

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John 1:41
The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).

We have lost the wonder of discovery. Unlike us, the disciples as well as all of the Jewish people of that time, were waiting for the Messiah. It was prophesied that he would come and each generation looked for the signs of his coming.

In some ways, I am reminded of the personal joy and even ecstasy that many African-Americans felt about Barack Obama. The wonder of it all when it finally happened: an African-American lifted to the highest office.

John describes Andrew as the first disciple to follow after Jesus. After spending a day with him, he runs to his brother with his news of finding the Messiah, the one foretold, the beginning of something unknown and the transformation of their world.

When we find Messiah in our own lives, we are changed forever. There is wonder in that message, our personal story of discovery. Who will you tell today?

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