Archives for May 2018

Less a Command than a Promise

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

 

I keep coming back to the idea of trust these days.
abandon
It is difficult to trust God in so many different areas sometimes.
We sing songs that speak things like take my life and let it be all for You and for Your glory. In a song I recently played at church, Grateful, there is a line that says, Whatever comes I won’t complain.
Do I really mean that?
Will I truly tell God that He can have my life for His glory? Am I able to tell God that He can give me cancer, take away my sight, or, as it says in Job, “stretch out (His) hand and strike (my) flesh and bones” if doing so will bring Him glory?
strike my body
Perhaps.
After all, this life is a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Of what importance is my body compared to my or anyone else’s soul?
strike my family
trust
What about my family?
They are just as much a part of my life as my physical body. Am I able to tell God that He can have my family, do to them what He wills, even take them away from me if doing so will bring Him glory?
This is much harder.
Could I say with Job, The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised?
Frightening questions.
care of the Lord
Yet why should I be afraid? Isn’t this the same God of Whom was said, “He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing”? Isn’t this the same God Who “did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all—how will He not also, along with Him, graciously give us all things?”
Yet it IS frightening. It is so difficult to truly and deeply trust God.
Yet one thing that I am learning is that when God gives commands, He also gives power.
Teresa of Avila
Teresa of Avila, a sixteenth century Carmelite nun, writes of when the Lord appeared to His disciples after the resurrection and said to them, “Peace be with you.” and she writes,
It has occurred to me that this salutation of the Lord must mean much more than the words suggest, as must also His telling the glorious Magdalen to go in peace; for the words of the Lord are like acts wrought in us.
When God commands us to be Holy as He is holy, when He commands us to love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, when He commands us to trust in Him with all our heart,
it is less a command than a promise.
Frederick Buechner puts it this way:
The final secret, I think, is this: that the words ‘You shall love the Lord your God’ become in the end less a command than a promise.  And the promise is that, yes, on the weary feet of faith and the fragile wings of hope, we will come to love him at last as from the first he has loved us – loved us even in the wilderness, especially in the wilderness, because he has been in the wilderness with us.  He has been in the wilderness for us.
Because at its heart the gospel is about God moving toward us, doing for us what we are incapable of doing on our own.  
So trust God.
And when you can’t trust God, ask Him to carry you the rest of the way into the promise of that trust.
I think we will find that God has not only moved toward us but has lifted us up and carried us the rest of the way toward Himself, even in the middle of our fear and doubt.

Art Credits: Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Henryk Siemiradzki; Santa Teresa de Jesus by Alonso del Arco; all other photographs are copyright Made Sacred 2018

Learning from Elijah at the End of a School Year

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

It is the end of the school year, and I find myself thinking about Elijah.
Elijah fights
After the fight with the prophets of Baal, after the flight from Jezebel, after his journey into the wilderness, Elijah was worn down physically, he was emotionally depleted, he was feeling inadequate to what God had asked of him.
He plopped down in a cave and moped.
This. This is what I want these days. To sit in a cave by myself (solitude is key) and mope.
God asks Elijah why he is sitting and sulking in a cave, and Elijah informs God of all that he has accomplished for Him, complains that he  is all alone in his fight, and is honest about his fear for his life.
This is my daily life, especially at the end of a school year.
I feel worn down physically by the demands of small children who depend on me for everything, from getting dressed to being educated to learning about God.
I am often emotionally depleted from pouring out myself for my family.
I feel completely inadequate to the task God has set before me of raising my children to honor Him.
I am lonely from being in a new town with the added difficulty of meeting people as a homeschooling mom.
Most days, I feel like a failure.
Elijah is fed
Before Elijah made it to his brooding cave, he collapsed under a broom tree where God met his needs.
An angel brought him food and drink and allowed him to rest, saying, “The journey is too great for you.”
Elijah rested and took in nourishment from God before he traveled to the mount of God.
I need to learn to depend on God for every single daily need, just as Elijah was forced to do under the broom tree.
God told him that the journey was too much for him and gave him food and rest.
God knows that I am inadequate for the job He has given me, and He has given me His Spirit, the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, to provide everything I need for my mission.
Elijah was sustained by God. He did not make his journey in his own strength. I need to learn to do the same.
Elijah hears God
God also made it clear that He was still with Elijah. When the Lord passed by Elijah on the mount of God, God spoke to him in a still small voice rather than in the fire or the earthquake, perhaps to let Elijah know that He was near and close to him.
I desperately want my times with God to train me to listen to God’s still small voice so that, even in the midst of my weariness and loneliness I know beyond a doubt that He is with me.
That will be enough.

Art credits: Elijah kills the Ba’al priests, woodcut for “Die Bibel in Bildern” by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld; Elijah in the Wilderness, exterior of the Duomo in Milan by Yair Haklai; Elijah Cave inside Stella Maris Church in Haifa by Larry Koester

The Poison and Peace of Words

To hear my blog post read aloud, just click the play button. If you’re reading this in an email, you may have to click here to hear the post on my site.

 

 

Our words have power.
It was so from the beginning.
The Word
The Word spoke and it was done. The Word breathed and life was bestowed.
We are created and we have His image and like our Father, our words make things happen.
Just as His words go out and do not return empty, neither can we throw heedless words to the wind. Just as all He speaks has deliberation and purpose, so should we have careful thought bolstering what we say. So should we speak with wisdom, with peace.
The Word peace
Too often we talk, we rant, we fill up the air with our words. And our words are not of grace.
Poison
When we who pray the Lord’s Prayer also write ugly in online spaces, when we who sing of God’s love also snip at our family at home, when we who praise His servant-love also speak short and proud to those who serve us,
we pump poison into our world.
We forget that those on the receiving end of our arrows are just as beloved as we. When truth is forgotten, we who are called to reign and serve, to glorify and praise, we set the name of our King afire in the eyes of this world.
fire
Words exist for a different purpose.
God’s Word created man. He created man and then God’s Word became a man. He put on flesh and dwelt among us.
The Word flesh
The Word incarnate.
The Word came so that the incarnation can continue, so that our lives can become incarnate, the whole of life an incarnation of the Word.
The Word came to be wisdom and peace, and that is what we should speak into our world, with our mouths and with our lives, into this space we are given to influence.
The Word peace
So speak with wisdom and with peace rather than with poison and with fire.
the Word harvest
Our harvest of righteousness is waiting.

 

Art credits: Holy Night by Antonio da Correggio; Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Jan Vermeer; all other photos copyright by Made Sacred 2017

 

Today’s guest post is by Elizabeth Giger who writes weekly on her blog, Made Sacred (madesacred.com).