Present-centeredness

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Show me thy ways, O Lord; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truths, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day. Remember, O Lord, thy tender mercies and thy loving kindnesses; for they have been ever of old ~Psalm 25:4-6 (KJV)

“Present-centeredness describes this important prerequisite of contemplation. Too often we find ourselves ‘distracted’ or ‘abstracted,’ that is, not all there. Both terms are derived from two Latin words: trahere meaning ‘to be yanked or pulled’ and de or ab meaning ‘from.’ When we are distracted or abstracted, we have been pulled from the present by some concern, thought, or action. Often it is guilt and regret over the past or concerns and worries about the future than keep us from living in the present. Dwelling in the past and projecting ourselves into the future both have the same result; they fragment our consciousness, leaving us unfocused. With one foot in the past and the other in the future, this bifurcated way of being splits our attention and ruins our ability to appreciate fully what is occurring before our very eyes.” ~From The Enduring Heart by Wilkie Au

It is my belief that in the “present” I find God’s presence. In the “present” my focus is on Him. In this “present” moment is where I will find the kingdom of God.

Help me to be ever focused on you this day Lord so that I may feel Your presence in my Life. Help me to not be pulled away by the guilt of the past or the worries of the future. Help me to be in Your presence now for this moment. Amen.

Faithful with little

“Whoever is faithful with little is also faithful with much, and the one who is dishonest with little is also dishonest with much.  If you haven’t been faithful with worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches? If you haven’t been faithful with someone else’s property, who will give you your own?  No household servant can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be loyal to the one and have contempt for the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. ” ~Luke 16:10-13 (CEB)

“Faithfulness is consecration in overalls. It is the steady acceptance and performance of the common duty and immediate task without any reference to personal preferences- because it is there to be done and so is a manifestation of the Will of God. It is Elizabeth Leseur settling down each day to do the household accounts quite perfectly (when she would much rather have been in church) and saying, ‘The duties of my station come before everything else.’ It is Brother Lawrence taking his turn in the Kitchen, and Saint Francis de Sales taking the burden of a difficult diocese and saying, ‘I have now little time for prayer- but I do what is the same.’

The fruits of the Spirit get less and less showy as we go on. Faithfulness means continuing quietly with the job we have been given, in the situation where we have been placed; not yielding to the restless desire for change. It means tending the lamp quietly for God without wondering how much longer it has got to go on.” ~From The Fruits of the Spirit by Evelyn Underhill

Day to day life can sometimes be tiring. 1 Corinthians 10:31, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” reminds me that I can serve God in my everyday ordinariness. Phillippians 2:14, “Do everything without complaining or arguing,” reminds me that I should do all things with a happy heart. Everyday life is often glamor-less but the Bible tells me to still “rejoice always.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16).

May all I do this day give glory to You O Lord. Help this day to remember not to grumble in the day’s ordinariness but to rejoice, always. Amen.

 

The love of a child

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People were bringing children to Jesus so that he would bless them. But the disciples scolded them. When Jesus saw this, he grew angry and said to them, “Allow the children to come to me. Don’t forbid them, because God’s kingdom belongs to people like these children.  I assure you that whoever doesn’t welcome God’s kingdom like a child will never enter it. ” Then he hugged the children and blessed them. ~Mark 10:13-16

No one loves like a child. This is how God wants me to love Him, that unconditional love, that love that completely believes that the parent can provide for all their needs, a complete dependence for the provision of those needs. A child is free to not know all the answers but has the assurance of where those answers may be found. Children adore their parents.

The Kingdom of God is like a child secure in the love of a parent.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for allowing me to come to You as a child comes to a parent. I thank You for Your love that You pour out on me every day. I thank You that I know that I am Your Beloved child. Amen.

The one who touched my heart

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He said: I love you, LORD, my strength. The LORD is my solid rock, my fortress, my rescuer. My God is my rock— I take refuge in him!— he’s my shield, my salvation’s strength, my place of safety. Because he is praiseworthy,I cried out to the LORD, and I was saved from my enemies. Death’s cords were wrapped around me; rivers of wickedness terrified me. The cords of the grave surrounded me; death’s traps held me tight. In my distress I cried out to the LORD; I called to my God for help. God heard my voice from his temple; I called to him for help, and my call reached his ears. ~Psalm 18:1-6

“Becoming the Beloved is the great spiritual journey we have to make. Augustine’s words: ‘My soul is restless until it rests in you, O God,’ capture well this journey. I know that the fact that I am always searching for God, always struggling to discover the fullness of Love, always yearning for the complete truth, tells me that I have already been given a taste of God, of Love and Truth. I can only look for something that I have, to some degree, already found. How can I search for beauty and truth unless that beauty and truth are already known to me in the depth of my heart? It seems that all of us human beings have deep inner memories of the paradise that we have lost. Maybe the word ‘innocence’ is better than the word ‘paradise.’ We were innocent before we started feeling guilty; we were in the light before we entered into the darkness; we were at home before we started to search for a home. Deep in the recesses of our minds and hearts there lies hidden the treasure we seek. We know its preciousness, and we know that it holds the gift we most desire: a life stronger than death.” ~From Life of the Beloved by Henri J.M. Nouwen

I always believed that God touched me in my mother’s womb. Maybe He does us all. That would explain this longing we have deep inside us for something more, something that will complete us.  It is a comfort to know that I was made to long and search for a home that is mine. Maybe that is why I never felt that I was in a place where I completely belonged. I am meant to feel that I am only passing through. I am not meant to feel complete until I have found the One Who touched my heart. I am not meant to feel at home until I am home with Jesus.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for the Fullness of Your love. I thank You for touching my heart and calling to me from my mother’s womb. I thank you for calling to me, asking me just to seek… to seek the treasures that I would find if only I would start on that journey. I thank You for sending Your Son to show me the Way. Amen.  

Beloved

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Look at your situation when you were called, brothers and sisters! By ordinary human standards not many were wise, not many were powerful, not many were from the upper class.  But God chose what the world considers foolish to shame the wise. God chose what the world considers weak to shame the strong.  And God chose what the world considers low-class and low-life—what is considered to be nothing—to reduce what is considered to be something to nothing. So no human being can brag in God’s presence. It is because of God that you are in Christ Jesus. He became wisdom from God for us. This means that he made us righteous and holy, and he delivered us. ~1 Corinthians 1:26-30 (CEB)

“Don’t you often hope: ‘May this book, idea, course, trip, job, country or relationship fulfill my deepest desire.’ But as long as you are waiting for that mysterious moment you will go running helter-skelter, always anxious and restless, always lustful and angry, never fully satisfied. You know that this is the compulsiveness that keeps us going and busy, but at the same time makes us wonder whether we are getting anywhere in the long run.  This is the way to spiritual exhaustion and burn-out. This is the way to spiritual death.

Well, you and I don’t have to kill ourselves. We are the Beloved. We are intimately loved long before our parents, teachers, spouses, children and friends love or wounded us. That’s the truth of our lives. That’s the truth I want you to claim for yourself. That’s the truth spoken by the voice that says, ‘You are my Beloved.’

Listening to that voice with great inner attentiveness, I hear at my center words that say: ‘I have called you by name, from the very beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, on you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the earth and knitted you together in your mother’s womb. I have carved you in the palms of my hands and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look at you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate that that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair on your head and guided you at every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and wherever you rest, I keep watch. I will give you food that will satisfy all your hunger and drink that will quench all your thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own as I know you as my own. You belong to me. I am your father, your mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse … yes, even your child … wherever you are I will be. Nothing will ever separate us. We are one.’” ~From Life of the Beloved by Henri J. M. Nouwen

To be called by the Creator by name. The fact that He knew me before my mother knew me. Awesome. God knew who I would be and before I even set out in this world He loved me. Simply, I was loved before I was born.

Heavenly Father, You are mine and I am Yours. I am Your Beloved. Before I ever messed up or went astray You loved me knowing the steps I would follow and the depths that I would ascend. You reached down into that darkness, even sent Your son to guide me … all because You love me. Me, even though I am tarnished and broken You still sought me. I thank You that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Amen.

Solitude

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“Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble. And you will find rest for yourselves.  My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (CEB)

One of my favorite authors writes why it is so important to seek God in our daily life:

“Solitude is the furnace of transformation. Without solitude, we remain victims of our society and continue to be entangled in the illusions of the false self. Jesus himself entered into this furnace. There he was tempted with (“turn stones into loaves”), to be spectacular (“throw yourself down”), and to be powerful (“I will give you all these kingdoms”). There he affirmed God as the only source of his identity. (“You must worship the Lord your God and serve him alone.”) Solitude is the place of the great struggle and the great encounter- the struggle against the compulsions of the false self, and the encounter with the loving God who offers himself as the substance of the new self…

…Solitude is not a private therapeutic place. Rather, it is the place where the old self dies and the new self is born, the place where the emergence of the new man and the new woman occurs.” ~From The Way of the Heart by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Solitude is not something to be fought. It is in the deserts of life that I figure out what I am made of and who I am. These are not moments to run from but to embrace. Here is where I will encounter myself. Here is where I will find God.

Heavenly Father, I thank You for encountering me in the silences of life. Strengthen me for the trials that help me to untangle who I am and who I am meant to be. Thank You for showing me that I can be more than I ever thought I could be through Your blessings in my life. Amen.

 

Satisfaction

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God, listen to my cry; pay attention to my prayer! When my heart is weak,  I cry out to you from the very ends of the earth. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I am because you have been my refuge,  a tower of strength in the face of the enemy. Please let me live in your tent forever! Please let me take refuge in the shelter of your wings! ~Psalm 61:1-4 (CEB)

Some things are universal. Hunger and thirst for God are one of them. The Bible reminds us that we were not only made to yearn for God but also that God yearns for us too.

If this is the case though, why do our hunger and thirst so often go unsatisfied?

Jesus is our best example. Even though his journey toward God was without blemish, he found it necessary to go aside to rest and to pray again and again. And in the midst of the great needs of the people around them, Jesus called the disciples to come away by themselves to rest. From that times of rest, they were thrust back into the ministry of caring for the needs of the crowds that followed Jesus.

This is how to satisfy my need for God by establishing a time for daily prayer, reflection and regular worship in a community. The only way to fulfill the longing is to “be still” so that I can “know” Him.

Heavenly Father, Thank You for listening to me and hearing me when I pray. Lead me to a rock that is higher than I am because You are my refuge and strength. Lead me in the way I need to go this day. Amen.

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