A FRIDAY MEDITATION ~ Ouch

Jesus said to his disciples, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.”  And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.” ~ John 20:21b-23 (NIV)

I thought I was doing pretty well, stress wise, considering all that has been going on in my life lately. The Friday Meditation was nearly finished, so I decided to run a couple of errands with my husband.  I needed to take a trip to the Xfinity store to get some of my devices to do what I thought they should be doing but wouldn’t.  Also, my phone insisted that I had exceeded its storage capacity and I needed to do something about that.And that was when the trouble began.

I don’t like being talked down to because I think I am fairly intelligent, and to be treated like I don’t know anything about how electronics work just irritated me.  Secretly, between you and me, I don’t know much about how they work but that is totally beside the point. The fix-it man wanted to try removing some things from the phone to give it more storage capacity.  I wanted to know what would happen when he did.  “Nothing,” he said. He asked if I watch movies on my phone.  Like, seriously? The screen is four inches wide.  When I told him that I didn’t he said I wouldn’t need this app.  I told him I wanted it, anyway, because I have some folders I am in the process of removing to my computer. Did he listen?  No!!  Dave touches my shoulder. Later, I realized that app was gone.  No folders. And guess what? There wasn’t enough capacity on my phone to reinstall it.  And maybe…I won’t go into any more details.

Except, I was beginning to lose my cool.  I just finally walked away and let Dave handle everything.  Mainly, because I didn’t want to chew the nice man’s head off and because I was afraid I would cry.  I hate that.  Dave did tell me, when we got to the car, that I had lost my temper which is pretty unusual for me anymore.  I didn’t think I had, really, but when the transaction was finished and we were getting ready to leave, the fixer of phones said that he teaches classes about these things, and I might want to think about taking one sometime.  Oh, boy!! I said nothing, but when I got to the car I realized the pile of folders that I hadn’t had time to store and over 1000 photos of grand-kids, among other things, were missing. I came home and ate a LARGE chocolate bar, reinstalled the app I had wanted left on and recovered the folders.  The photos will come later because I now have enough room to store all of those, The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church, and whatever else I want.

What is an apprentice of Jesus to do in these situations?   After they’ve blown it? Right now, I’m not sure. I’m not in the forgiving mood, nor do I really want to ask for forgiveness, because I’m having too much fun thinking the nice man is an idiot. Good, huh?  Christ-like, right???  Can I just walk up and say, “Mr. Idiot, please forgive me for being a jerk.” Can I say, “I’m sorry Jesus, please forgive me for not showing your face.”  Maybe.  I want to. “Where’s the joy for you in this?” Julie asks.  I wonder.  Breathe. I feel a little laughter bubbling up. I need me some Jesus. Some conversation. A hug. Breathe, again.  Listen.  Ponder.  Because, as The Message says in verse 23 above, “If you don’t forgive sins, what are you going to do with them?”

 

A FRIDAY MEDITATION ~ Pure Joy

My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing. ~ James 1:2-4

“Life is difficult,” is the first line of the book, The Road Less Travelled, by M. Scott Peck, M.D.

I agree that life is difficult and it is also challenging and downright hard. I have learned over the years as an apprentice of Jesus that these trials and temptations propel me along the way of growth and transformation.  Do I like it?  No way, but we will have them anyway because we’re human, so I’m learning to hang on and let them do their work in me.  I do think, however, that the last while is a little bit much.  Just sayin’. And a few more challenges are on the horizon in the next two or three months ~ a funeral, the move into our new home, and following that almost immediately, I’ll have to move my office.  I’ll need to call on all the stress management techniques that I have learned over the years.

My “pay attention” word for the month is “Notice.”  This word grounds me and helps me stay in the moment.  My focus isn’t very good at the moment because I am still processing our son-in-law’s suicide and all of the many things surrounding it.  I notice that I am spending a lot of time working Sudoku puzzles.  This is good for my brain, but I am spending much more time than usual.  I’m remembering that when our son, Doug, died I worked jig-saw puzzles all the time for a month or two. What’s with this? Maybe it’s my response to shock. Also, Jon’s suicide coincides in time with Doug’s suicide 21 years ago.  Maybe I have unfinished business in need of healing.

As for considering it “all Joy” I ponder.  I once was asked about the difference between joy and happiness, and I really didn’t have a good answer. Some say that they are the same thing, but I’m beginning to doubt that. I think that happiness is, most often, an emotion that depends on everything running reasonably the way we want. Happiness is fickle.

Joy, on the other hand, though some may disagree, is an attitude that we maintain whether we are happy or not. Attitudes are hard to describe and we choose them. There is an element of hope in joy. There is a sense of contentment. Rick Warren says, “Joy is the settled assurance that God is in control of all the details of my life, the quiet confidence that ultimately everything is going to be alright, and the determined choice to praise God in every situation.”  And thank him too, as I wrote about last week.

Joy is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) which grows in us when we spend time, especially silent time, with Jesus.  It’s probably easier for him to do his work in us when we aren’t doing all the talking. I notice that I am not really happy at the moment because horrible things have happened, but there is a deep and deepening sense of trust in God that lets me be content.  Most times. Once in a while.  Maybe the Sudoku helps me be still and let things sort themselves out.  Hmm.

The opening scripture verse from James in The Message says:  “Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.” – James 1:2-4

I wish you Joy, Donna

A FRIDAY MEDITATION- What Then?

Let me not be afraid to linger here in your presence with all my humanity exposed. For you are God …you are not surprised by my frailties, my continuous failures. ~ Teresa of Avila

Sometimes, something so tragic happens in life that you never ever saw coming even when you have been imagining all kinds of other scenarios. It knocks you off your foundation and nothing makes sense. Thinking is almost impossible. You can barely catch your breath and you may find yourself staring into space and holding it as if that might undo the situation. The scene appears in your thoughts and your dreams as if the script is trying to rewrite itself. Yet there is nothing that can be done to fix it. What do you do then? When you’re numb?

That has been this week and I want a do-over for it. I don’t want my daughter to have to go through this. I don’t want Jon’s children to need to deal with this. Nor friends. Suicide is a terribly sad thing to have happen, so they’ll have to. I alternate between sadness and anger. But I haven’t asked God why he let this happen. Not for years. I could only accuse him of allowing free will. Many times in the past, I may have asked this, but no longer. We can only choose to love if we have the choice. I will ask God how he feels but he is crying at the moment. He cries for loss and he cries for the pain. Ours but also Jon’s. I cry with him and them.  How about our anger? I think God is angry and also saddened when we hurt each other. How far from the Kingdom can we get? Maybe God is disappointed. I am. Why did Jon do this?

So, what are we (I mean “I”) to do until the shock starts to wear off? Until I can breathe again?

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (Crazy scripture of the day from Bible Gateway)

Give thanks in all things! Even this? Even when I don’t feel it?  Even when I don’t want to?

Yes…”Songs on rare sunshiny days but not when skies are cloudy will not make a life of gratitude…What if I gave thanks in the trouble because the trouble is a gift that causes me to turn? What if I loved not for His goods but for His love itself that is goodness enough? – Ann Voskamp

What if I give thanks because God is with me (with us) in the trouble and we are not alone?

What if I give thanks because Jesus loves me (and them) and there is nothing that can change that – not even when I’m shocked and numb?

What if I give thanks that God comes with skin on when I’m not really able to feel his presence? ( Nor they).

What if I give thanks…..?

What if I…what about then?

Even then.  In all things.  Give thanks!

Christ, I call upon your Name. I am never alone, never without help, never without a friend, for I dwell in You and You in me! ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. For You are with me.’ Amen ~ David Adam.

Grace and Peace,
Donna