Monthly Archives: May 2017

Wednesday’s Words: Amazed and Afraid

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But they were amazed and afraid, and said to one another, “Who is this man? He gives orders to the winds and waves, and they obey him! Luke 8:25

 

While crossing a lake with his disciples, Jesus fell asleep in the boat. A storm hit. Some of the disciples were sea-faring fishermen, but even they were terrified and convinced they were going to die. No wonder they woke Jesus up.

 

Jesus gave an order to the wind and waves and immediately there was a great calm. Luke doesn’t tell us the disciples were happy or even relieved. He says they were “amazed and afraid.” (GNT, NRSV)

 

No matter how good things may be, it’s scary to feel our powerlessness. Although it’s easy to forget when things are running smoothly, there are plenty of circumstances beyond our control. We’re not in charge of the universe. We’re not at the mercy of chaos, either.

 

The good news is that God, the Creator of the universe, is in control, even when it doesn’t look like it. God is all-powerful. Yes, He loves us intimately. Yes, He’s slow to anger and rich in kindness. Yes, His grace is amazing…but so is His power.

 

The word awesome has become trivialized by overuse. The word awful has a negative connotation. What word can we use to describe the mind-blowing, knee-shaking power and authority of the God who made the planets and stars but yet numbers the hairs on our head? To be known and loved by such a God is enough to amaze and frighten anyone.

 

Prayer: Glory and Praise to our Mighty God!

 

Reflection: When have you felt both amazed and afraid? How does it feel to experience your vulnerability? To glimpse God’s power? To know you are loved with that same power?

Wednesday’s Word: Sincerity

 

I am not afraid. I am going to talk because I know my own heart. (Job 9: 35)

 

Sharing what’s in our hearts takes courage. Knowing what’s in our hearts to begin with takes courage, too.

 

When we’re afraid of being judged, criticized, or rejected, we’re not likely to expose our deepest feelings. There’s nothing wrong with putting our best foot forward, but when we consistently put on a false front we can lose ourselves. We bury those parts of ourselves we wish weren’t there without even realizing that we’re cutting off a very real part of who we are. No matter how many friends we have, if all they ever see is our false front, we may still feel isolated.

 

Negative feelings don’t go away just because we don’t acknowledge them. Buried alive, they sometimes leak out sideways. Just ask those we live or work with. The irony is that we need to face our shadowy secrets and accept that they are part of us before we can let them go. This isn’t always easy. Growing in awareness of God’s unconditional love helps us feel safe enough to face our true selves. Encouragement and emotional support from people we trust also helps.

 

When we dare to face the truth, however unflattering it may be, we often find relief. Sharing this truth in a safe environment—in a confessional, a counselor’s office, or the home of an understanding friend in whom we can confide—is healing. We can grow, communicate sincerely, and develop genuine relationships when we, like Job, aren’t afraid and we know our own hearts.

 

Prayer: Lord, grant me the courage to be honest with myself.

 

Reflection: What’s going on inside your heart today?

 

Wednesday’s Words: Fruit of the Spirit

By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23a (NRSV)

 

Love. Joy. Peace. We all want them. The irony is that many of the ways we try to get love, joy, or peace of mind work against us.

 

We try to earn love—or at least admiration and attention—by trying to impress others or make ourselves indispensable. It doesn’t always come off so well…especially if others are trying to do the same thing. We end up competing, feeling envious, or self-righteous—not very lovable qualities.

 

We pursue happiness only to find it elusive. After all, if the things we bought made us happy, we wouldn’t have to keep buying more things. If we think we can’t be happy until others to do what we want them to, we might spend the rest of our lives waiting.

 

It’s easy to think serenity would come if only life were problem-free, but when one problem gets resolved, sooner or later another pops up.

 

The paradox is that we open ourselves to the fruit of the Spirit when we stop forcing things to go the way we want them to. When we can accept life as it is on any given day, peace and patience flow naturally. When we aren’t wearing ourselves out trying to earn love or achieve happiness by satisfying the demands of self-will , we are free to enjoy what we do have. Without self-imposed pressure, we can afford to be kinder, gentler, and all the rest. Life can be better by when we make room for the Spirit. Let’s get out of our own way.

 

Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, and fill my heart.

 

Reflection for sharing: Which fruit of the Spirit are you most longing for today? What do you need to let go of to make room for it?

 

 

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Meditations

But Jesus answered “The scripture says, ‘Human beings cannot live on bread alone, but need every word that God speaks.’” (Matthew 4:4)

 

All Bible quotes are from the Good News Translation unless otherwise noted.

 

It is reassuring that Jesus called fishermen and tax collectors to be his followers. These were laymen, not Scripture experts. It is wise to seek guidance from religious scholars and clergy who have studied Scripture to avoid errors in interpretation. But the Bible is also a gift given to each of us, to use as a basis for prayer and meditation.

 

I’m not a Biblical scholar; I’m an expert only on my own experience. Following the Scripture passage is a brief meditation along with a question or two as a springboard for your own reflections. Please feel free to share your own thoughts or insights on the passage by adding a comment. All comments are moderated, so please allow some time for your comment to be posted.

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