True spirit

And when you fast, don’t put on a sad face like the hypocrites. They distort their faces so people will know they are fasting. I assure you that they have their reward. When you fast, brush your hair and wash your face. Then you won’t look like you are fasting to people, but only to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ~ Matt. 6:16-18 (CEB)

“How can I make room in my life for the things that really matter? This question plagues most adults in the developed world. We have so many things, so many activities, so many opportunities, and so many responsibilities. Is it possible to find a place for God in our busy lives? Many have answered the question with a resounding, no. Others have answered by filling every moment of every day with activity until there is no time even to think about God. Others yearn to find that sacred space and time but just don’t know how or where to look.

The saints who have gone before us left a legacy of experience in living with God. One learning they pass on to us is the value of fasting as a spiritual discipline. Fasting makes room for God in our lives. The discipline required to relinquish food or entertainment or anything else can often be the opening that admits God more fully into our lives.

Is there a way for you to find regular time and place for God in your life without fasting or giving up some things? Probably not. Therefore the real question becomes, What do you feel called to give up in order to find room for God in your life? Fasting for a season may give you the space, time, and energy to make room for God in your busy life.” ~A Guide to Prayer for All Who Seek God, Rueben P. Job

Almighty God, deliver me from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with steadfast thoughts and kindled affections, I may worship you in spirit and in truth, through Jesus Christ Amen.  

Set free

Make your ways known to me, LORD;

teach me your paths.

Lead me in your truth—teach it to me—

because you are the God who saves me.

I put my hope in you all day long. ~Psalm 25:4-5 (CEB)

“That which is unforgiven holds us captive. We are imprisoned by the hatred and malice we clutch in our hearts. I do not mean to suggest that forgiveness is easy or even that it is a swift process. No. When wrongs have been committed the last thing one wants, or even should do is claim that the transgression should be overlooked The aftermath of betrayal or injury is unavoidably rage, hate, self-blame, flight, and fight. It is a long and painful process to move through the stages of healing that must be named and claimed as part of you, the pain allowed to work for you, the injurer must rightly be blamed, and power and strength returned to the injured. The, knowing you have experienced pain and overcome it, forgiveness can some as a free act.” ~From The Time Bewteen by Wendy M. Wright

Set me free this day O Lord, from the pain and fears I carry around with me. Help me to gain the strength I need to place blame where it belongs, claiming only my part. Help me to face what needs to be faced so that I may go about my day with a lighter spirit. Amen.

To walk in wholeness and truth

After this there was a Jewish festival, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate in the north city wall is a pool with the Aramaic name Bethsaida. It had five covered porches, and a crowd of people who were sick, blind, lame, and paralyzed sat there. A certain man was there who had been sick for thirty- eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, knowing that he had already been there a long time, he asked him, “Do you want to get well?”

The sick man answered him, “Sir, I don’t have anyone who can put me in the water when it is stirred up. When I’m trying to get to it, someone else has gotten in ahead of me.”

Jesus said to him, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” Immediately the man was well, and he picked up his mat and walked. Now that day was the Sabbath.

The Jewish leaders said to the man who had been healed, “It’s the Sabbath; you aren’t allowed to carry your mat.”

He answered, “The man who made me well said to me, ‘Pick up your mat and walk. ‘”

They inquired, “Who is this man who said to you, ‘Pick it up and walk’?” The man who had been cured didn’t know who it was, because Jesus had slipped away from the crowd gathered there.

Later Jesus found him in the temple and said, “See! You have been made well. Don’t sin anymore in case something worse happens to you.” The man went and proclaimed to the Jewish leaders that Jesus was the man who had made him well. ~John 5:1-15 (CEB)

“Thirty-eight years is a long time to be unwell. After so long, you might get used to being sick, and develop some strong habits to keep yourself infirm. After all, when you are stuck in a closet of ill health- and everyone around you is also used to being unwell- then being sick seems like the thing to do. If you decide to get well, all the other infirm people will complain about it.

This is the way it was for the man described in John 5:1-15. He felt at home in his infirmity, as did all the others who occupied the surrounding porticos. They were all unwell, and they spent all their time waiting but not seeing that their most serious illness was that they were ‘at home’ in their ill health. They would have felt quiet naked had they suddenly found themselves exposed to wellness. And so Jesus had remind this man that there was another alternative: ‘Do you really want to get well?’

The man’s response tells it all, as he reels off a long list of excuse:

I don’t have anyone to put me into the water.

When the angel comes to stir the water, someone gets there ahead of me.

So you see, all I can do is remain unwell for another year.

But I am faithful. I have been waiting for thirty-eight years.

Go ahead! Blame circumstances, blame the angel, blame the other sick people around you for not letting you in first. . . .  Do you realize the waters that need to be stirred are inside you? Just once why don’t you get up and get there first? If you listen carefully at this moment, you may just hear Jesus saying to you in the portico of your heart, ‘Get up! . . .  Pick up your mat and walk!” ~Norman Shawchuck

Heavenly Father, You know my lists and my excuses. Open my eyes this day to see past my perceived stumbling blocks to wellness. Help me to feel Your Presence I seek to get my feet underneath me so that I may walk in Your ways of wholeness and truth. Amen.