The well

The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you.” … The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus. ~John 4:25-30 (CEB)

What was the woman at the well needing? Healing, love, closure. What was it that Jesus was offering her at the well? Real love.  Not temporary, momentary love, but deep lasting love that could satisfy her for all time. She had tried to heal her broken heart, one messed up relationship at a time. Jesus gets right to the heart of the matter. “Where have you been looking for love?” In all the wrong places.

There is no condemnation in Jesus’ questions. Without addressing the hard questions healing cannot happen. “Come to me”, is his reply, “I can give you that true love you long for. Come to me and you will never be hungry or thirsty again. Come to me and I will heal your broken heart.” No matter what we are broken from aren’t these words that need to be heard?

What was the response the woman had to Jesus’ words? She immediately went to tell others what she had found. She wanted to share the good news. She went back to the same people who had probably been critical of her situation. The same people who probably didn’t know that underneath the behavior was deep pain. The woman at the well had found healing, closure and a new life. She was unable to contain the news. It bubbled up from her.

When we look to heal our brokenness on our own or through someone else, we find ourselves going again and again to the wrong places. There is only one Source. When healing is found and joy is complete we find we can’t keep this miracle to our self.  Good news must be shared even to the ones who never understood our pain.

Heavenly father, I thank You for giving me a real love that touches the depth of my soul. I thank You that healing can happen when I take the time to ask the tough questions. Amen.

Bandages

 

God heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds. ~Psalms 147:3 (CEB)

“Do you forgive me?” My son looks at me pleadingly. *sigh* Once again I failed. No, sweet child, it is me that you should forgive.

I ran out of patience and tolerance. He had done nothing wrong but be himself.  I am so glad that I have a Savior that is more than me. When I forget to turn to Him for the source of my strength, I find myself missing the mark.

In our relationships with each other we find ourselves doing that we wish we would not and saying that which we should not. Part of learning and growing is working through our differences and learning tolerance. Part of living is learning to forgive each other. I am always floored by the wise words of Henri J. M. Nouwen. This excerpt from his book Bread for the Journey is so insightful,

“‘Time heals,’ people often say.  This is not true when it means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on us and be able to live on as if nothing happened.  That is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality.  But when the expression “time heals” means that faithfulness in a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then there is much truth in it.  ‘Time heals’ implies not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation.”

Living in this reality that is mine is not always easy. Sometimes I take things out on the ones I am not angry with. May I always be “big enough” to admit when I am wrong and take responsibility for my part. May I always be willing to actively work through the pain in search of understanding. May I always be willing to trust in the possibility of forgiveness even when it is for me.

Grant me this day Heavenly Father, a strength that takes me outside myself to see and understand the truth in my reality. Only You can equip me with that strength and will make my way perfect (Psalm 18:32). Amen.

The tree of knowledge

The snake was the most intelligent of all the wild animals that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say that you shouldn’t eat from any tree in the garden?” The woman said to the snake, “We may eat the fruit of the garden’s trees but not the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden. God said, ‘Don’t eat from it, and don’t touch it, or you will die.’” The snake said to the woman, “You won’t die! God knows that on the day you eat from it, you will see clearly and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” The woman saw that the tree was beautiful with delicious food and that the tree would provide wisdom, so she took some of its fruit and ate it, and also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. ~Genesis 3:1-6(CEB)

There are two trees in the garden. The Tree of Life represents a life dependent on God. The Tree of Knowledge represents a life dependent on self. Eve’s initial mistake is entering into conversation with the liar. The following mistake was reasoning with the truth.

Two lies snuck in the garden that day. One is the lie that we have to do something to be something. Remember the act of eating the fruit? The second lie that slips by us is that this performance will make us more like God. In Genesis 3:5 Satan tells the woman that by eating the fruit she will become more like God, more righteous. In her conversation with the lie she forgot the truth. In Genesis 1:27, God had already made her “in His image.”

So what does this mean? Somewhere along the way we forget that love is a gift, we begin to believe that it must be earned. God gave us the Tree of Life so that we might truly walk with him. Walking this road in life with him brings freedom. But if we choose the Tree of Knowledge aka the “tree of independence”, we are bound to ever try to earn love and acceptance. We are trapped in the lie of performance.

The fact is God already loves us. He loved us first before we ever did anything to earn that love, it already existed. Adam and Eve forgot the love they were given, in fact they wanted more. They wanted to be independent and ever since humans have been born separated from God (Rom 5:17). God has been calling to us since the garden trying to remind us that His love is here free for the taking. We don’t have to earn that love. God doesn’t want us to remain in darkness, our self-reliance. He is calling us back to Truth. He is calling us back to the Tree of Life.

Heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus into the world to bring us back to the Tree of Life. Help me to fight this streak of independence that lives in me. Help me to live in the intimacy you gave us in the garden. Amen.

To move on

Compassion and deep forgiveness belong to my Lord, our God. ~Dan. 9:9

Part of being human is to hurt and be hurt.   Forgiving does not mean that I am denying my pain. Forgiveness means that I stopped pretending the hurt isn’t real. Only if I experience the sense of having been wronged and the impact of he action or attitude on my life is forgiveness possible. This is true whether or not harm was intended. Until I am honest about how I feel, forgiveness, and the ability to move forward cannot happen.

Loving, merciful and forgiving God, You have forgiven me much. May I forgive others as You have forgiven me, so that I as forgiven and reconciled can walk through this day with a glad and upright heart. Amen.

Extending God’s Grace

For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God; ~Romans 3:23 (CEB) Don’t judge, so that you won’t be judged. You’ll receive the same judgment you give. Whatever you deal out will be dealt out to you. Why do you see the splinter that’s in your brothers or sisters eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? How can you say to your brother or sister, Let me take the splinter out of your eye, when there’s a log in your eye? You deceive yourself! First take the log out of your eye, and then you’ll see clearly to take the splinter out of your brothers or sisters eye. ~Matthew 7:1-5 (CEB)

A church I drive by often posted on its sign for a few weeks, “Don’t judge others by how they sin differently”. This is a very thought provoking statement. As a human it is easy to categorize “sins” as some not so bad and others as horrible. It is human nature to say, “Well I have messed up, but at least I am not as bad as the person next to me.” Hm, makes me think of a certain Pharisee. But God’s view of things is different. In God’s eyes a sin is a sin. My little white lie is as bad as stealing. My sin of half-truths is as bad as murder. What about sins of omission? In God’s eyes I am not any better than anyone else who sins. This is very humbling.

So what am I to do with this knowledge? Am I to feel worse about myself? No I think I need to take this knowledge and look at others differently. When I look at others I need to remember that we have ALL sinned. This is one of those truths from the Bible that I really struggle with. But Romans 22 tells me, “Gods righteousness comes through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who have faith in him. There’s no distinction.” We are all on equal ground with God. I am no worse or better than anyone else. Romans 3:24 tells us, “all are treated as righteous freely by his grace because of a ransom that was paid by Christ Jesus.”

It is not by my own strength that I gain my righteousness. I am thankful for the grace that God gives me everyday. I need to follow Jesus’ lead and extend grace to others. I don’t know what struggles each individual has gone through to put them where they are in life. Only God has this knowledge and the Bible tells me that God alone should judge.

Heavenly Father, give me Your heart as I walk this road with other people. My I extend the same grace that You have given me. Amen.

Freedom to love

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of a messenger who proclaims peace, who brings good news, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God rules!” Listen! Your lookouts lift their voice; they sing out together! Right before their eyes they see the LORD returning to Zion. Break into song together, you ruins of Jerusalem! The LORD has comforted his people and has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD has bared his holy arm in view of all the nations; all the ends of the earth have seen our God’s victory. ~Isaiah 52:7-10 (CEB)

“I have learned how to love with great love from a little child in Calcutta. Once, there was no sugar and I do not know how that little Hindu child four years old heard in the school that Mother Teresa had no sugar for her children.

He went home and told his parents, ‘I will not eat sugar for three days: I will give my sugar to Mother Teresa.’

His parents had never been to our house before to give anything, but after three days they brought him. He was so small, and in his hand there was a little bottle of sugar. How much can a four-year-old child eat? But the amount he could have eaten for those three days, he brought. He could scarcely pronounce my name, but yet he gave and the love he put in the giving was beautiful.

I learned from that little one that at the moment we give something to [God], it becomes infinite!” ~From My Life for the Poor by Mother Teresa

Some of the most loving, giving… forgiving people I have known have been children. If you want to know how to live as Jesus lives look to a child. Loving others is so simple, even a child can do it.

Merry Christmas!

Heavenly Father, help me to walk through this day with the faith and love of a little child. May the battle wounds I have occurred that prevent me to see as a child sees be stripped away. Help my resentments and judgments fade so that I may live as you would have me to live, in complete freedom. Amen.

To love one another

“I give you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, so you also must love each other. This is how everyone will know that you are my disciples, when you love each other. ” ~John 13:34-35 (CEB)

“When we are free from the need to judge or condemn, we can become safe places for people to meet in vulnerability and take down the walls that separate them.   Being deeply rooted in the love of God, we cannot help but invite people to love one another.  When people realize that we have no hidden agendas or unspoken intentions, that we are not trying to gain any profit for ourselves, and that our only desire is for peace and reconciliation, they may find the inner freedom and courage to leave their guns at the door and enter into conversation with their enemies.

Many times this happens even without our planning.  Our ministry of reconciliation most often takes place when we ourselves are least aware of it.  Our simple, nonjudgmental presence does it.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri J.M. Nouwen

Merry Christmas!

Heavenly Father, help me this day to be free of judgements so that I may be a safe place for others. Help me to be more vulnerable so that walls can be demolished permanently. To be Your hands and feet and to love those I meet are all You ask of me. Help me to do Your will. Amen.

A little dusting off

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond human reach, giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted. Youths will become tired and weary, young men will certainly stumble; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength; they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired; they will walk and not be weary. ~Isaiah 40:28-31 (CEB)

“Ironic as it is, we are always shocked when we realize that we have little control over our lives or the lives to those around us. We thought we were in charge. After all, aren’t we independent and self-sufficient? But serious illness thows a wrench into our illusion of control.

What should we do when we are in the midst of circumstances beyond our control? It is wise to realize that we are helpless, to assess our support and resources, and to act to seek the help we need …

Certainly, illness is a wake-up call to rely on God. The wonderful thing is that even though the situation prodding us to rely on One greater than ourselves is terrible, it also bears the wonderful fruit of faith. All we need to do is ask God for help and then be alert to God’s provision.” ~From Abiding Hope by Ann Hagmann

For all those wrenches that have been thrown my way, for the rocks in the road that I have stumbled over, for all those times I thought that I could “really take care of myself”… God has used those moments to show me His love through His people. I may not always acknowledge that God has used these times to show me love but I do not have to acknowledge it for it to be true. May I remember when I fall on my face to look and see who God has sent along to pick me up and dust me off.

Heavenly Father, instead of moaning over the wrench in my plans the rocks in my path help me to see how You have loved me in those moments. I know that You work all things for my good. I know that these moments help to bolster my faith and strengthen me for the journey. Amen.

Set my life aflame

You are the one who created my innermost parts; you knit me together while I was still in my mother’s womb. I give thanks to you that I was marvelously set apart. Your works are wonderful—I know that very well. My bones weren’t hidden from you when I was being put together in a secret place, when I was being woven together in the deep parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my embryo, and on your scroll every day was written that was being formed for me, before any one of them had yet happened. God, your plans are incomprehensible to me! Their total number is countless! If I tried to count them—they outnumber grains of sand! If I came to the very end—I’d still be with you. ~Psalm 139:13-18 (CEB)

“My God, every fiber of my being vibrates at the touch of your grace- whereby I am given the privilege of being your child. My joy at your overwhelming gestures of love and the high privilege you extend to me of entering into your life invades my being with an acute sense of your ever- nearness. In response to this, my Lord, I offer praises to you.

Yet, my Lord, I am often cold toward you. I forget to love you for long periods of time- and this to my own harm and regret. Forgive me, Lord! Everloving God, set my life aflame with love for you only. O my God, I long to reflect your image through the world so that others might observe your doing in me and themselves be convinced that you love them also. Amen. ~Norman Shawchuck

Enslaved

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romas 12:2 (ESV)

“The action of those whose lives are given to the Spirit has in it something of the leisure of Eternity; and because of this, they achieve far more than those whose lives are enslaved by the rush and hurry, the unceasing tick-tick of the world. In the spiritual life it is very important to get our timing right. Otherwise we tend to forget the God, Who is greater than our heart, is greater than our job too. It is only when we have learnt all that this means that we possess the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.” ~From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

Almighty God, sometimes I get so busy with the things that need to get done that I forget what is most important in life. You. You are bigger than all my worries, You are bigger than all my troubles. You know my heart. Guide me in the direction that I need to go this day to connect more fully with You. Amen.

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