A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Four letter words and stuff

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. ~ Proverbs 16:9

Moving is a four letter word. I am trying to get rid of some excess stuff in order to simplify my life, and seriously…..am I really going to do anything with this pile of fabric that has sat on the same shelf in the exact same spot since I moved here eight years ago?  And since it came with me, the shelf it probably sat on for at least 5 years before that.  Most likely the answer is “No.” So why keep it?  It’s not that decorative.  My daughter-in-law and granddaughter might want some. Then how about that huge container of left over yarn? Uh…

There are two boxes of books from a book club obtained when I neglected to send back the card to say that I didn’t want the book?  I haven’t read them and I don’t want to read them.  What’s more, I finally came to that conclusion.  They are practically brand new except they may be 20 years old. Well, I love books but really – give them to the library.  They love books too.

How did I get so pack rat like?  I don’t know.  But wait – didn’t my siblings just clean out my mom’s house while I watched, because the floor was so full of stuff that I couldn’t keep my balance without light. The lamps had gone in an estate sale. I did come home with very little—a keepsake or two, something for the kids and a couple of grandkids who wanted one.  But, I did bring home pile upon pile of photos and historical documents for the amateur genealogist in me. Sigh.

I’m getting rid of furniture that I do not like or that is not comfortable.  William Morris an English textile designer said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” One or the other.  Maybe both. My husband wonders…but he’s both. What about the stuff I love?  If I really love it, I’ll keep it, but my “loves” are changing.  I feel transformation happening within. I want more space and less stuffed closets. It is a good Lenten spiritual exercise to sort and get rid of things that are no longer useful, or that do not make you happy and peaceful, in order to make space in your home and in your spirit. I saw a suggestion to give away one thing out of your closet for each day in Lent and I have more than met expectations in this, but there is still more that can go. I already feel freer and lighter with more room for God.

Why am I writing when I’m up over my ears in boxes and we’re not finished packing? When the moving van will come on Wednesday and I don’t have a home to put the stuff in I did keep? Well, because it’s what I do…There is a light at the end of the tunnel and I don’t think it’s a train.  Any day now, we will know if the only door for housing that has not been slammed in our face, before we even have a chance to go for a looky-loo, is the one which God will tell us to go through and unpack. This, also, is a Lenten exercise in trust and patience for sure.

Lead me Lord, lead me by your Spirit.  Make your will clear for my future.  For it is you Lord, you the wounded healer, who makes my heart sing and my feet dance for joy.  Fill me Lord, fill me with your Spirit ~ Spirit of love, Spirit of joy and peace. Be my rock, be my rock of refuge, of courage and strength for my journey. ~ Finians’s Readings, Celtic Daily Prayer

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A FRIDAY MEDITATION- The desires of my heart

Trust in the Lord, and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security.
Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. ~ Psalm 37:3-5

I read this psalm a few days ago.  Isn’t this great news?  God will give us what we want if we just trust him and do good things.   The rest of the passage tells what those good things we should do are; trust/commit ourselves to God; delight in him and be still before him.  Refrain from anger, forsake wrath, don’t fret over those who prosper in their own way, and don’t worry. The psalm lists many of the things the evil and wicked do, but we are let go of that, trust God, do good, anyway. That is so easy, thanks very much.

But…maybe this psalm has another meaning or can be thought about differently.  We can make such a pharisaical practice of doing good things, then when we don’t get what we want or many of those things for which we ask, we are at the very least disappointed.  We aren’t often all that good, either, because we do get angry when we see the evil prosper. We can’t treat this scripture as a formula.  I’m not fond of formulae because they are most often about getting it right when it is really so all about Grace. The Pharisees had the formula down pat but they forgot about love, about being in a love relationship with God and then loving others. It is about being in love with Jesus and staying in that relationship.  Then, God will put within us that which he dreams for the desires of our heart to be. His dreams and his desires become ours.  And we go from there.

Do I have an example? Well, with a little time I could probably come up with several. Maybe it is my writing. I never wanted to do it, because it requires lots of discipline and some organization. Not my strong suit at all. And what do I have to say anyway. Then maybe teaching for the same reason. But, both have gradually become part of my passion.

Many, many years ago, I wanted many things that would make my life easier and more glamourous. I wanted my children to be happy, healthy and prosperous.  I wanted the same for my husband.  I wanted to be happy, healthy and prosperous, normal desires.  I didn’t get them all.  There was illness, sadness, and brokenness, as well. Then I began to realize that God was there with me in all of the mess.  I started to know that Jesus loves me (loves all of us as if we were the only one.)  Much of what made me sad made God sad as well.  As our relationship grew, my desire became that others would come to know that God was love—that Jesus loves all of us and there is nothing we can do that will change that in any way. I didn’t know how to live with God’s desires at first, so I started doing what was right in front of me. It changed over the years. Little did I know that what I wanted to do – my passion – was God’s desire planted within me for the needs of the world in my small part of it.

So how do we start?  First of all, remember that it’s all about the relationship with Jesus. Then look for what is in front of you that you love to do?  Maybe it’s visiting the sick or lonely, feeding the hungry, finding shelter for the homeless, caring for orphans or…writing or teaching about God’s love.  What is your passion for the world? What is God’s for you to do?

Frederick Buechner says, “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.”  Now, if I can only remember this.

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION -God is Enough

Let nothing disturb you, Nothing frighten you; 
All things are passing; God never changes;
Patient endurance Attains all things;
Whoever possesses God Lacks nothing;
God alone suffices. ~ Teresa of Avila

Hasn’t the weather been wonderful today?  Yesterday, too.  Most of the snow has melted except for the huge piles left from clearing roads, etc.   I was beginning to think I would never see the ground covered in any color but white, again, but there is hope for spring. Before long, buds will begin to swell on trees and early blossoms will begin to appear, and Dave and I will be living somewhere else.  Happy Lent by the way.

How is the move going?  You might ask. We are still waiting on a price for the house.  The appraisal is in the works.  We are in the countdown, now, so we are looking at whatever else is out there.  We were going to look at two that we had driven past, but when we called the realtor, both, in addition to one other, are under contract.  Last word to me from God on the subject was “Pack.” Seriously? I feel like Abraham.  Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you…’ So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.” (Genesis 12:1, 4). In other words, God said, “Abram, ‘Pack’ your bags and hit the road.  I’ll tell you, where and when to unpack.” So, I’m sorting things, getting rid of some, and awaiting word from the movers, the house seller and looking for other possibilities. Is this moving project really a God thing?  You’re probably asking that question by now as well.

Teresa of Avila is my “go to” girl for the last few days.  I’m reminded of a story….aren’t I always? Teresa was born in 16th century Spain. As a child she always wanted to do something great for God so she, eventually, became a Carmelite nun after the death of her father who was against the whole idea.  She has many interesting life stories, but I love the one that has been told over and again.  While Teresa’s spirituality was a deeply reverential one, she had a wonderful sense of humor. This humor shows a kind of playfulness in her relationship with God. Once, when she was travelling to one of her convents, Teresa was knocked off her donkey and fell into the mud, injuring her leg. “Lord,” she said, “you couldn’t have picked a worse time for this to happen. Why would you let this happen?” The response, she heard was, “That is how I treat my friends.” Teresa answered, “And that is why you have so few of them!” What a relationship.  I can relate to this story at the moment while I’m trying to keep my humor intact.

Once, Teresa said, O God, I don’t love you. I don’t want to love you. But I want to want to love you.”  One wonders what was happening during this time.  Then, maybe she was woefully aware of her own shortcomings and lack of love.  Perhaps, this is a prayer of longing and a request for help. Amen.

I taught a class on discernment last year using the book DESIRING GOD’S WILL, by David Benner to spark our discussion. He made the distinction between Willingness and Willfulness.  Do I want my will or God’s will?  I might say, “God I don’t do your will.  I don’t want to do your will. But, I do so want to want to do your will.”  Willingness, not my own willfulness. I want to do God’s thing in this because when I do my own, I usually end up wishing I hadn’t. Well, I have been told to pack, so I better get to it, patiently.

“May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you.
May you be content knowing that you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and everyone of you.” ― Teresa of Avila

A FRIDAY MEDITATION – Patience, anyone?

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12

A woman stopped me in the hall after a meeting at church and asked if I had ever considered writing about patience. I hadn’t ….but, I always try to be open to what the Spirit is saying, so…  The women said she didn’t think that having patience meant to sit around and do nothing.  Was there an implied, “Does it?” at the end or was that my own question? I don’t make a habit of praying for patience. We joke about it, though, saying that praying for it will bring upon us opportunities to practice.  Maybe opportunities would occur anyway.

The next day, I read this quote by Henri Nouwen: “Patience is a hard discipline. It is not just waiting until something happens over which we have no control: the arrival of the bus, the end of the rain, the return of a friend, the resolution of a conflict. Patience is not a waiting passivity until someone else does something. Patience asks us to live the moment to the fullest, to be completely present to the moment, to taste the here and now, to be where we are. When we are impatient we try to get away from where we are. We behave as if the real thing will happen tomorrow, later and somewhere else. Let’s be patient and trust that the treasure we look for is hidden in the ground on which we stand.”

Dictionaries say that patience is a noun and, basically, it is a quality, capacity or habit. Patience is something we have. Now, I just want to rush right out and buy some, but patience is a fruit of the Spirit. “… the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” ~ Galatians 5:22ff.  Fruit develops in us when we stay attached to the vine from which it comes. Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” ~ John 15:5.  Patience is not something we can manufacture on our own or buy even if we wish it.

I stay attached by spending quiet time with Jesus listening- paying attention, being still with him. This is what I can “do”.  If further action is required, which usually requires some discernment, I often find the answer in the stillness. Patience requires a certain amount of trust that God has it covered and our attitude should be one of gratitude.

I have a current example.  My husband and I hope to move into a patio home.  We hadn’t thought to move but we kept having problems with our older home that we aren’t able to fix on our own.  I would post these issues on Facebook, occasionally, and a Friend reported that her husband said we shouldn’t fix anything but sell to them.  I thought she was joking.  But when she kept “joking” I realized God was speaking.  In short, we said we would sell our house and begin looking for another. We found one we want; it seems right, but the owner’s daughter hasn’t given a price, yet.  Maybe, it’s not God’s plan – maybe it is.  Our Friends house is in the process of being sold and we need to move in about one month.  We made an offer on the one we want, and we are waiting.  We are praying, friends are praying.  I am trying to stay attached to Jesus hoping patience is ripe while we wait for further instructions. Most of the time, I have patience.  But ONE month……? Really? Breathe. Be still. Listen. Good practice for Lent.
May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. ~ Colossians 1:11-12