When I call You to me

The LORD proclaims, the LORD who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the LORD: Call to me and I will answer and reveal to you wondrous secrets that you haven’t known. ~Jer. 33:2-3 (CEB)

“How shall I call upon my God, my God and my Lord, when by the very act of calling upon him I would be calling him into myself? Is there any place within me into which my God might come? How should the God who made heaven and earth come into me? Is there any room in me for you, Lord, my God? Even heaven and earth, which you have made and in which you have made me – can even they contain you? Since nothing exists would exist without you, does it follow that whatever exists does in some way contain you? But if this is so, how can I, who am one of these existing things, ask you to come into me, when I would not exist at all unless you were already in me? Not yet am I in hell, after all, but even if I were, you would be there too; for if I descend to the underworld, you are there. No my God, I would not exist, I would not be at all, were you not in me. Or should I say, rather, that I should not exist if I were not in you, from whom are all things, through whom are all things, in whom are all things? Yes, Lord, that is the truth, that is indeed the truth. To what place can I invite you, then, since I am in you? Or where could you come from, in order to come into me? To what place outside heaven and earth could I travel, so that my God could come to me there, the God who said, I fill heaven and earth?” ~From The Confessions by Saint Augustine

Almighty God, you who are the source of my life and strength. In Your presence alone I find help, hope and life to sustain me this day. Help me in turn to be a healing reminder of Your love to all whose lives I touch this day. Amen.

The comfort of tears

When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, “Where have you laid him?”

They replied, “Lord, come and see.”

Jesus began to cry. ~John 11:33-35 (CEB)


“We took him too much for granted. Perhaps we all take each other too much for granted. The routines of life distract us; our own pursuits make us oblivious; our anxieties and sorrows, unmindful. The beauties of the familiar go unremarked. We do not treasure each other enough.

[Eric] was a gift to us for twenty-five years. When the gift was finally snatched away, I realized how great it was. Then I could not tell him. An outpouring of letters arrived, many expressing appreciation for Eric. They all made me weep again: each word of praise a stab of loss.

How can I be thankful, in his gone-ness for what he was? I find I am. But the pain of the no more outweighs the gratitude of the once was. Will it always be so?

I didn’t know how much I loved him until he was gone.

Is love like that?” ~from Lament for a Son by Nicolas Wolterstorff

There are times O Lord that the most comfort You can give me is to know that You weep when I am sad. Thank You.

Never truly alone

Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! Your dull minds keep you from believing all that the prophets talked about. Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then he interpreted for them the things written about himself in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the Prophets.

When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?”

They got up right then and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying to each other, “The Lord really has risen! He appeared to Simon!” Then the two disciples described what had happened along the road and how Jesus was made known to them as he broke the bread. ~Luke 24:28-35 (CEB)

“Many theologians declare that God cannot be absent from creation or creature without both ceasing to exist. Trying to convince the broken and empty-hearted of this truth is not an easy task. Why did the author of Psalms and Jesus feel forsaken and alone? The answer is not easy to find, especially for those who experience the absence of God more readily than they experience the presence of God. Jesus was able to move from that forsaken feeling to the confidence and trust of a child as he placed his life and his death fully in the care of God. And the resurrection becomes the final proof that God can be trusted.

Jesus’ journey from that forsaken feeling to confident trust gives hope to us in our times of loneliness and fear of being forsaken. If the theologians are right and God never does forsake us, we can remind ourselves frequently of God’s presence. Establishing a way of life that intentionally makes us present to God is one way of removing the feeling of God’s absence. Regular times of daily prayer and regular times of corporate worship offer opportunities to establish a relationship of companionship with the One who made us and loves us.

If the theologians are wrong and God does indeed become distant and absent, our response will be the same as we call upon God to rescue us from our aloneness, confident that the One who always responds in love and wisdom will restore our sense of companionship. The biblical witness and the witness of the saints who have gone before us testify that God does not leave us alone. Even the apparent final absence of death is not a plunge into darkness but a movement into the light of ultimate companionship with God. So the words of Jesus becomes our own, ‘Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” ~From A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Ruben P. Job

I find my hope in You O Lord. I find true rest in You. Even when I feel abandoned, You are still with me in the darkness luring me to seek the light. Guide my steps this day so that I may find myself even closer to You. Amen.

Little by little

If you say to yourself, “These nations are more numerous than I; how can I dispossess them?” do not be afraid of them. Just remember what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the LORD your God brought you out. The LORD your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. Moreover, the LORD your God will send the pestilence against them, until even the survivors and the fugitives are destroyed. Have no dread of them, for the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God. The LORD your God will clear away these nations before you little by little; you will not be able to make a quick end of them, otherwise the wild animals would become too numerous for you. But the LORD your God will give them over to you, and throw them into great panic, until they are destroyed. ~Duet 7:17-23

Sometimes it feels that God is not answering our prayers. Or it feels like the situation is more than we can do. I like these verses from Deuteronomy because it reminds me that even though my trials may seem great I just need to remember the signs and wonders God has already done in my life. Just as he has been there for me in the past, He continues to be working for my good. (Jer. 29:11) Little by little God is already making changes, even if I can’t see them. The timing is slow so that when I come into the promises He has made me I will be ready to stand up under this new life and not crumble.

God is doing the hard work. He is clearing a way before me. I only need to be ready to step into that promise land once He has my path cleared.

Heavenly Father, there are some days that it is hard to remember Your promises. I take my eyes off you, see my present circumstances and soon am overwhelmed again. Today I recall to mind the signs and wonders that You have already done in my life. Today I will hold my head up high and watch You do the work. Amen.

Love revealed

This is how the love of God is revealed to us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we can live through him. This is love:it is not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son as the sacrifice that deals with our sins. ~1 John 4:9-10 (CEB)

“I am beginning to now see how radically the character of my spiritual journey will change when I no longer think of God as hiding out and making it as difficult as possible for me to find [God], but, instead, as the one who is looking for me while I am doing the hiding.” ~From The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Heavenly Father, thank You for seeking me even when I wish to not be found. Thank You for relentless searching me out and calling to my heart. Thank You for continuing to woo me through life’s struggles. May the work I do this day show my love and adoration for You. Amen.

The Vinedresser

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.” ~John 15:1-8 (CEB)

“God desires that we be abundantly fruitful and acts to help this happen. With enduring faithfulness and intimate knowledge of our capacities, the heavenly Vinedresser provides opportunities for us to shed the excess burdens that inhibit our full maturation in God’s service. ‘Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit’ (John 15:2). The Bible sometimes describes this process of intensive nurture using the image of a parent exercising constructive discipline with a child. The purpose is not to erase our uniqueness or subdue our vitality, but rather to give us a share in God’s own holiness (Heb. 12:10) and thereby to become ‘fully-developed, complete, with nothing missing’ (James 1:3).

Pruning can certainly be uncomfortable. It strips us of what is non-essential to the power of God’s life rising within us. But it also gathers and focuses energies previously dispersed in draining distractions or even apparently worthy commitments. Pruning concentrates the savor of the fruit we bear, for it proceeds from inward peace and promotes outward goodness. Therefore the effect of the Vinedresser’s skilled hands is always a power of life greater than that which we would or could choose on our own.” ~From “Editor’s Introduction” by John S. Mogabgab in Weavings September/October 2001

Heavenly Father, give me strength as You prune me for growth. Help me to fully develop so that I may share in Your holiness. May I allow Your power to work through me to be greater than I could be on my own. Amen.

Living out the good news

Who will harm you if you are zealous for good?  But happy are you, even if you suffer because of righteousness! Don’t be terrified or upset by them. Instead, regard Christ as holy in your hearts. Whenever anyone asks you to speak of your hope, be ready to defend it. Yet do this with respectful humility, maintaining a good conscience. Act in this way so that those who malign your good lifestyle in Christ may be ashamed when they slander you. It is better to suffer for doing good (if this could possibly be God’s will) than for doing evil. ~1 Peter 3:13-17 (CEB)

“Any serious attempt to practice a simple but radical discipleship is certain to bring opposition today. We, as Wesley before us and as the saints before him, also know the struggle of internal and external opposition. In a time when division, violence, lust, and greed are the acclaimed way of life, the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the attempt to live out that gospel will stir up opposition within and without.” ~From A Wesleyan Spiritual Reader by Rueben P. Job

Help me this day O Lord, to stand against any opposition that might come my way. Especially bolster me if that opposition comes from within me. Help me to do good this day. Amen.

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