To Continue…

87882356And, the more that I think about Jesus saying, “Do not be afraid, just have faith” to a man whose little daughter has just died, the more I am both amazed and comforted.  When I reflect on the many things that are ‘crosses’ in my life right now, none of them can compare with the death of a child.  If Jesus could tell a grieving father to ‘just have faith’ when the circumstances seemed so dire, then there is nothing that I can’t bring to him, and nothing that he can’t heal.

“Just have faith” – three little words that can change my life.  These three little words are transforming…they effect my attitudes, my decisions, my moods, my past, present and future, the way I live and the way that I love.  He tells me, “Just have faith” and I answer:

BUT….

I’m really worried

I’m so afraid

I’m not seeing you, hearing you, feeling you right now

I have to do something…I have to take control

I fear the worst

And he responds, “Do not be afraid, JUST HAVE FAITH”

And I ask for the faith of a mustard seed so I can move mountains.

free will…..friend or foe?

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I can’t tell you how many times the kids in our program

ask a question like,

‘if God didn’t want Adam and Eve to eat from that tree,

why did he put it there in the first place?’   

If we are honest, we’ve asked ourselves that very same question.  Oh, we might phrase it a bit differently, we might ask that age-old question, ‘why do bad things happen….’  or ‘why didn’t God stop that from happening….’, but the question is the same – does God set us up for failure?

Sometimes I like to dream about the world before the ‘fall’.  I think that I would like to live there, but in reality, how can I expect others  never to be selfish, unkind, hurtful and cruel when I can’t  do that – even for a day.  The ‘freedom’ that I have in the gift of free will allows me to choose….others first or myself first…..

I think about the way parents raise children.  There are two ways to get your children to obey you.  One is through fear, the other through love.  If I am the type of parent who demands that my children obey me or else,  I would need to use threats and punishments.  Certainly my children would obey me, because they would fear the consequences.  I would have little ‘robot’ children who are too scared to disobey, but would I have their love?

The other way is much riskier…the other way is through love.  I would love my children enough to allow them the choice to obey or not (stay or leave).  I would teach them, guide them,  and yes, explain the consequences of making bad choices, but ultimately, they would have the freedom to make the choice. Love would require that I step back, watch and wait.  And then, if they choose to obey it would be a choice based on love rather than fear.   You can see how risky this is!

Fear and love are both strong motivators.

 Perhaps the end action looks the same, but the path to that end is different.

God always chooses the path of love.

 God always takes the risk.

God sits back, watches and waits

We make the choices….sometimes good, sometimes bad

free will…..friend or foe?

An Interesting Lent

What an interesting lent this is turning out to be.  To all those strong and disciplined people out there, I tell you this in the utmost humility:  This year the lenten promise that I made lasted a whole 6 days!  I think that this was the shortest thus far in my life!

My lenten promise, what I decided to do, what I thought was best….hmm… and, as usual, God has other plans!  Now, I’m not blaming God for my lack of will power (that chocolate was just too good to resist!),  but as the days and weeks passed, I realized that there is something to learn here, how can I grow from this experience?

First, it teaches me great humility – I’m not in charge and I am not strong enough to ‘go it alone’.  I trip and fall, over my own feet sometimes, and I’m so grateful for the loving arms that always pick me up and hold me as I begin to walk again.

Second, if I am quiet enough then I can hear that tiny whisper which lets me know what I should really be concentrating on.  And, it is always gift, pure gift, not deprivation, although sometimes it may sting a little, like the bright light on a sunny day.

So, what is it for me this lent? 

I remember the cross….I remember the reason for the cross.  He asks me to give to him my  worries.  Fears that have actually become a part of me.  Worries that I cling to.  He wants them, He wants my healing, he wants my wholeness….

Now, that’s really giving something up for lent!

Watch your friends…

We walk around with burdens….we’d love to be able to shed our feelings of guilt, fear, worry, etc.  We  have lists and if asked, we’d all love to be free of them.  But, I wonder, have they become the actual fabric of who we are?  Have they become ‘friends?’ 

There may be a subconscious need to hold onto these negative forces because releasing them leaves us vulnerable.  We know what they are, how much of our energy they demand, how to co-exist, so to speak.  Who will I be if I let my fears go?

It’s difficult because releasing them requires us to stand for a bit in the dark, naked and exposed.  We need to re-define ourselves.  ‘I’m a worrier, that’s who I am’ can’t work anymore.

Sometimes we may have to look hard at ourselves and see how much a part of us our fears, guilt and worry have become.  We may have to excise them and that leaves us with open wounds. 

It is then that God comes to us-

to receive those so-called ‘friends’

to heal our wounds…..