“The Lord rules over the deep waters; he rules as king forever.” (Psalm 29: 10)
I got good grades all through school – unfortunately, in the real world, nobody asks or cares if I made the honor roll. What matters is how I act in the situation at hand. In real life, there isn’t always time to study, reflect and reason out how to respond to an irate client, an unexpected mishap, or even a child’s question as (s)he’s racing for the school bus. Sometimes we have to trust our instincts. That can be a scary place if you’re like me, a person who likes to study the text book before making a decision.
Then, too, feelings or issues sometimes come up that my brain can’t always get a handle on. If I can’t reason it out consciously, how can I know what’s available as far as my inner resources are concerned? What a relief to know that God rules over the deep waters of my heart.
When I start my morning with prayer and meditation, I feel as if I am opening my whole self – not just my mind – to be under His rule. Then, as I go through the day, in the heat of those many moments when I may forget about God, I feel assured that He won’t forget about me. Some things may be too deep for my rational mind, but God is never in over His head.
Prayer: Lord, rule over the deep waters of my heart and soul.
Reflection for sharing: What reassurance comes from knowing that God is in charge?
“I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NRSV)
One thing that trips me up a lot is that I keep forgetting I’m not the center of the universe! When do I feel overwhelmed? When I think I have to do more than I feel capable of doing. When do I feel impatient? When things don’t happen according to my schedule. When do I get irritated? When people don’t act the way I think they
should. Circumstances that interfere with achieving my goals on any given day pave the way for frustration. If I could just get me out of the center, I’d probably feel a lot less stress.
Jesus doesn’t say, “apart from me you can do pretty well.” He doesn’t say, “apart from me you can at least do a little bit.” He says, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Just remembering that brings relief. If I can remember to stay connected to Him, I can let go of straining to force my agenda. If it’s part of God’s plan, it will happen in His time. I have to do my part, but I don’t have to do more than my part, and I certainly don’t have to try and get the other branches to do what I think they should. If I stay connected to the source, I’ll have what I need to do what I’m meant to do.
Prayer: Lord, be with me as I breathe in Your Vine-life, and breathe out stress.
Reflection for sharing: What’s the difference between “bearing fruit” and accomplishing everything on our agendas?
“The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord; the earth and all who live on it are his.” (Psalm 24: 1)
Ever since Junior High School, I’ve felt like the proverbial square peg in the round hole – as if I didn’t quite fit in with those around me. I got pretty good at blending in, but there was always the nagging suspicion that if people found out the real me, they’d run away, laugh, or be bored to tears.
I’d been taught early on that God loved me but never felt unconditional love until I met some friends trying to follow a spiritual path. That path didn’t look like I thought it would. These people told the truth about themselves. They acknowledged their flaws and sought God’s grace to overcome them. One of my new friends suggested that I speak gently to myself. “Even when I mess up?” I asked. “Especially when you mess up,” she answered. Learning to be honest and love ourselves anyway – the way God already loves us – frees us to seek forgiveness ourselves and to accept and forgive others. It is safe to be who we are.
You and I belong to the Lord. Failure, criticism, self-condemnation can tempt us to feel isolated. But feelings can’t keep us from belonging to the loving God who breathed us into existence. He didn’t make just one of us. We aren’t on our own. We belong.
Prayer: Lord, may we rest assured that we belong to You.
Sharing: What are some ways to overcome the challenges of feeling isolated?