Behind and below

Where could I go to get away from your spirit?

Where could I go to escape your presence?

If I went up to heaven, you would be there.

If I went down to the grave, you would be there too!

If I could fly on the wings of dawn,

stopping to rest only on the far side of the ocean—

even there your hand would guide me;

even there your strong hand would hold me tight!

If I said, “The darkness will definitely hide me;

the light will become night around me,”

even then the darkness isn’t too dark for you!

Nighttime would shine bright as day,

because darkness is the same as light to you! ~Psalm 139:7-12

“Our desire for equilibrium can become an idolatrous attempt to deny a large part of what life is about. The advertising industry achieves a good deal of its success through the message that if only we opt for this or that product, our needs and longings will be satisfied. We learn that life is not yet perfect, but we can fix it by obtaining the right house, floor polish, insurance policy, or therapy. In other words, we are encouraged to believe that there is something wrong with us if things are out of kilter and that life is meant to be lived on a plateau of happiness. The psalms give the lie to this kind of thinking by encouraging us to robustly deal with life as it really is and to find God in disorientation as well as harmony.

 

It is both a relief and a challenge to comprehend that there is no place where God is not. Psalm 139 speaks of the attempt to escape the Creator by soaring into the heavens, going into the depth, or sinking into the horizon where sea and sky meet. The sense that God is behind, in front, and above, laying a hand upon the one who feels searched out and known, makes the omnipresence of the Creator into a felt reality. I pray this psalm and I have to ask ‘Who am I? How can I respond to this all-encompassing presence of God?’ In my time and place I am on holy ground, and as I allow myself to be held in that moment of awareness, I must respond with what is truly in my heart. I tell God that I am afraid, relieved, filled with gratitude, or overwhelmed by a sense of being invaded.” ~From “Sing a New Song” by Elizabeth J. Canham in Communion, Community, Commonweal

Heavenly Father, Thank You for being behind me and going before me. Thank You for knowing the depths and the heights of my life. Thank You for fencing me in even when I thought that I just wanted to be free. Thank You for this time and space to know You more fully. Amen.

The knowledge of joy

In the beginning was the Word

and the Word was with God

and the Word was God.

The Word was with God in the beginning.

Everything came into being through the Word,

and without the Word

nothing came into being.

What came into being

through the Word was life,

and the life was the light for all people.

The light shines in the darkness,

and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. ~John 5:1-5 (CEB)

“Joy does not come from positive predictions about the state of the world. It does not depend on the ups and downs of the circumstances of our lives. Joy is based on the spiritual knowledge that, while the world in which we live is shrouded in darkness, God has overcome the world. Jesus says it loudly and clearly: ‘In the world you will have troubles, but rejoice, I have overcome the world.’

The surprise is not that, unexpectedly, things turn out better than expected. No, the real surprise is that God’s light is more real than all the darkness, that God’s truth is more powerful than all human lies, that God’s love is stronger than death.” ~From Here and Now by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Thank You Heavenly Father for shinning into my darkness. Thank You for overcoming the world with Your light of Truth. May I walk through this day with the confidence of a beloved child of God. Amen.

Joy like Jesus

“As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. I give you these commandments so that you can love each other. ~John 15:9-17 (CEB)

“Now Jesus himself was and is a joyous, creative person. He does not allow us to continue thinking of our Father who fills and overflows space as a morose and miserable monarch, a frustrated and petty parent, or a policeman on the prowl.

One cannot think of God in such ways while confronting Jesus’ declaration, ‘He that has seen me has seen the Father.’ One of the most outstanding features of Jesus’ personality was precisely an abundance of joy. This he left as an inheritance to his students, ‘that their joy might be full’ (John 15:11). And they did not say, ‘Pass the aspirin,’ for he was well known to those as a happy man. It is deeply illuminating of kingdom as a happy man. It is deeply illuminating of kingdom living to understand that his steady happiness was not ruled out by his experience of sorrow and even grief.

So we must understand that God does not ‘love’ us without liking us- through gritted teeth- as ‘Christian’ love is sometimes thought to do. Rather, out of the eternal freshness of his perpetually self-renewed being, the heavenly Father cherishes the earth and each human being upon it. The fondness, the endearment, the unstintingly affectionate regard of God toward all his creatures is the natural outflow of what he is to the core- which we vainly try to capture without tired but indispensable old word love.” ~From The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard

Help me this day O Lord to love with Your love. May it be genuine. May it be ever true. May the people I meet get a glimpse of Your love through me. Amen.