Monthly Archives: August 2017

Wednesday’s Words: God’s Love

How beautiful you are, my love; how your eyes shine with love!  Song of Songs 1:15

 

What’s a romantic love poem doing in the Bible?  The passionate exchange between ‘the man’ and ‘the woman’ found in Song of Songs (also called Song of Solomon) is often interpreted as an exchange between God and his people. With this in mind, the poem not only paints beautiful images of human love, but also gives us deeper insight into our own relationship with God.  We are cherished.  God calls you and me his ‘love.’  God thinks we’re beautiful.

 

“Beauty’s only skin deep” may be true for those who don’t look any deeper, but there’s another adage that says, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”  What does God find beautiful when He beholds us?  We get a glimpse in the quote from Song of Songs.  “How beautiful you are…how your eyes shine with love.”

 

When God looks at us, he sees past the blemishes and wrinkles on our faces and on our souls. One thing that makes us beautiful in God’s eyes is the love he sees reflected in us. Maybe it’s the spontaneous response of love we feel when we realize He loves us exactly as we are.  Maybe it’s the love He sees when we are genuinely concerned about or reach out to help someone else who is also His beloved, whether or not that person seems lovable to us.

 

God loves us – just as we are. Always. When we pause long enough to wallow in that awareness, how can we help but shine with love?

 

Prayer:  I love you, Lord.  May I grow in love.

 

Reflection for sharing:  How does it feel to be cherished by God?

 

Wednesday’s Word: Patience

“Everything that happens in this world happens at the time God chooses.”  Ecclesiastes 3: 1

 

Patience is not one of my strong suits.  On the plus side, I’m efficient.  Efficiency is good, but when I demand split-second timing, I put pressure on myself.  That usually happens when I’m too focused on my own agenda.  I forget that all time is God’s. I have the same amount of time everyone else does: 24 hours per day.  I have all the time I need to do what God has in mind for me to do on any given day.  It’s just that sometimes I want to accomplish more than is appropriate – or even realistic.

 

Taking time to pray can seem counter-productive, but if we’re too busy to pray, we’re too busy.  By connecting with God we open ourselves to His plan for us. We gain perspective. We may come to realize some things can wait until tomorrow and others can wait indefinitely.  We won’t rush around frantically trying to squeeze in everything on our ‘to do’ list. We can trust that we’ll be given all the time we need to do what truly needs doing.

 

Of course we need to make plans, but sometimes plans change.  The unexpected comes up.  If we pause to listen to God before we start our day, we’ll be better able to go with the flow. It’s safe to trust that what needs to happen will happen in His time.

 

Prayer:  Lord, slow me down.

 

Reflection for sharing:  What are your priorities today?  How might they differ from God’s priorities for you?

 

Wednesday’s Words: Wasted Effort

If the Lord does not build the house, the work of the builders is useless; if the Lord does not protect the city, it does no good for the sentries to stand guard.”  Psalm 127: 1

 

When I was a kid, I tried my hand at knitting, but didn’t have the patience for it.  After I dropped a stitch, I wasn’t willing to go back and make the correction. I wanted to finish the sweater, not waste time retracing what I’d already done. So I ignored the dropped stitch and kept clicking those needles.  As the sweater emerged, my continued knitting created a bigger hole.  Forging full speed ahead got me nowhere; it only magnified what was wrong.  It was either go back and do it right, or abandon the project.

 

Ignoring reality and trying to force the results I wanted was pretty foolish. When eagerness drives us relentlessly but the results are frustrating, our efforts might be counter-productive to God’s plan. Asking for guidance and taking time to consider what God’s will for us is, can direct our efforts and keep us from wasting our time.

 

Prayer:  Please, Lord, guide our efforts today.

 

Reflection for sharing:  How has praying for guidance saved you time and effort?

 

 

Wednesday’s Words: Handling Hate

 “Anyone who hides hatred is a liar.”  Proverbs 10: 18

 

Just a few verses before the above quote, we’re told, “Hate stirs up trouble, but love forgives all offenses.”  (Proverbs 10: 12)    Hate stirs up trouble, but if we hide hatred we are liars. What are we supposed to do?

 

I’m no expert, but speaking only for myself, I have a few thoughts. I’m learning to be more honest about what I feel.

 

As a child, when I said “I feel angry” or “I hate you,” I was told, “No you don’t.”  I don’t?  It sure feels like I do.  I must be wrong.  Over the years I got very good at lying to myself about what I was feeling.

 

Today, it is crucial for me to admit my angry feelings to myself.  But admitting my anger is not the same as acting it out. Finding safe ways to express and work through my anger without hurting myself or anybody else is essential. I find it helpful to write my feelings out and then destroy the writing so no one else can read or be hurt by it.  Talking in confidence to a trusted friend, spiritual advisor, and God about my anger also helps. Once expressed, the feelings settle down and I can see more clearly what – if anything – I need to do.

 

Feelings come and go.  We can choose our actions regardless of how we happen to feel at any given moment. Giving ourselves time, space, and permission to work through angry feelings safely can save us from regret.

 

Prayer:  Lord, teach us to be honest about our feelings and still act in love.

 

Reflection for sharing:  What are some safe ways to express feelings honestly?

 

Wednesday’s Words: Earthy Glimpses of Heaven

 “Jesus told them still another parable:  ‘The Kingdom of heaven is like this.  A woman takes some yeast and mixes it with a bushel of flour until the whole batch of dough rises.’”  Matthew 13:33

 

Have you ever baked bread from scratch?  I have.  The process is an interesting partnership of activity and rest. Flour can’t rise by itself. You begin by adding yeast to flour and other ingredients, but that isn’t enough.  Yeast is a living organism.  The rising of the dough is a result of the yeast’s growth. In order for the yeast to make the dough rise, you have to knead it all together.  Kneading, which involves pounding and stretching the dough, takes time and effort.  It doesn’t yield immediate results.  After kneading, the dough has to be covered and left alone in a warm place. Only after this quiet time will the dough rise.

 

Jesus tells us this is what the Kingdom of heaven is like.  What this means to me personally is that God’s Presence is like the yeast: a living entity.  Taking it in, whether through reading Scripture, receiving sacraments, or prayer and meditation, is not enough.  If I want God’s Spirit to be active within me and engender my growth, it will take effort on my part.  The kneading is the wrestling between Spirit and Self. Sometimes I feel pounded and stretched. Other times the process feels like a massage.  Either way, I’m pre-occupied and seldom see results during this process. Sooner or later, the effort stops.  I come to the end of what I can do or perhaps circumstances downshift. The quiet comes.  I might seek out the warmth of being with family or friends. I might take cover from my restless thoughts with simple diversions. I go on about my life.  Often when I least expect it, awareness comes. I may notice myself reacting differently to a situation that used to bother me.  Or an insight will occur to me “out of the blue.”  But it isn’t really out of the blue.  It’s just the dough rising.

 

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, thank you for showing us glimpses of heaven in the earthy ways we can understand.

 

Reflection for sharing:  What in your life could use some ‘kneading’ today?  What in your life needs quiet time in order to grow?

 

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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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