Wednesday’s Word: Meditative

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One of my favorite lines in the Christmas story is attributed to Mary—not to what she said, but what she did: Mary remembered all these things and thought deeply about them (Luke 2:19).

Listening, watching, reflecting.

These things require that we are truly engaged with live as we move through it.

It seems, however, we default to “auto-pilot” with scary ease. It may get us from points A to B—but at what price?

Our ability to reflect impacts not only our ability to remember, but also to apply what we’ve learned.

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These memories become treasures as they inform and form us.

Meditate on that!

Finding Christ

 

My mom lives in Arizona. Think Southwest architecture and décor.

The wall that separates her from her neighbor has three niches in it. Each one had a statue: Jesus, Mary, and St. Francis. It’s sort of on the order of the picture, but much less ornate. Think stucco wall with turquois painted statues.

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One day a strong storm came in and knocked Jesus from the wall and he shattered on the stones below. Mom had been looking for a replacement for some time without much luck. My husband and I went out for a visit and joined her in the search.

We took a day trip to one of our favorite spots, Tubac, Arizona.

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Now without intending any offense to Tubac, we really wondered if we would find Jesus in Tubac.

It sounded a little funny to us and I’ll admit we laughed a few times. So it was quite the joke when we actually did find a statue of Jesus. Too bad it was twice the height we needed. Too much Jesus?

Several months later my husband and I were shopping in an Amish community not too far from home. And guess what? We found Jesus there, too. But alas, Jesus was too heavy to carry around all day and we were without cell coverage. Before we bought we wanted to be sure it was what Mom wanted. We figured we could come back and get it after we called Mom.

But when we got back, Jesus was gone. And though they thought he might be back in a few months, they weren’t sure and couldn’t reach the distributer to confirm that.

I’m so glad it’s not usually that difficult to find Jesus.

His final promise was that he would always be with his followers: Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:20)

Paul was clear that finding Jesus would be too hard either: 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ (Acts 17:26-27)

I looked through lots of images for an ending picture. I considered using a picture of embracing Jesus, or finding Jesus. I chuckled when several images associated with finding Jesus were his image on a piece of toast.

I couldn’t decide what to use. Then it occurred to me that the main way people will see Jesus in me and you.
Will they see a broken Jesus?
Will he big too big, overpowering, too heavy?
Will he be there one minute and then not the next?
Will anyone be sure when he’ll back?

Lessons Learned

Before Dorothy can leave the Land of Oz, Glinda asks what lessons she has learned:

I feel a little like Dorothy. This year has been quite a journey. Not all of it has been good. I didn’t reach many of the goals that I set for myself.

Part of me wants to stamp the file that holds this year with a big fat: FAILED!

But is it a failure? What did I accomplish?
1. I finished a job. The woman I provided care for died in November. I was with her right up to the end. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
2. I did some writing. But more importantly I put my book out there and have started the arduous process of editing and rewriting it. I have started a second book. I completed a daily devotional online for Advent and headed up a published Advent Devotional for my church.
3. I have connected with Word Weavers International and am involved in two online critique groups—one of which I’m leading. This has increased my vulnerability and accountability.
4. My husband and I did some major de-cluttering in our home, reclaiming space and rearranging things for better use.
5. I have made a major dietary change as the result of a major illness and subsequent chronic issues that developed. I have been gluten free for four months.
6. I spoke at three retreats and two speaking opportunities scheduled for next year already.

And that’s just a start. So perhaps not reaching my goals isn’t as much a failure as I initially supposed.

Perhaps God had other things planned for me. I can’t say I enjoyed being sick or the residual effects, but there has even been gain in that pain.

So what do I have to look forward to?

I’m not sure completely, but I know that there is much writing to do, a part time job to secure, a writers’ conference to attend, much Scrabble to play with my mother, and weight to be lost—for good!

The rest is grace and gravy…gluten free of course!

20/20 Vision

In the first four chapters of Deuteronomy we find the account of the people of Israel poised at the edge of the Promised Land and their resulting fear. Several times Moses reminds them that God had promised them the land so they should act on the promise. The people lacked the faith to do so. Instead they asked Moses to send some scouts in to the land and come back to report what they saw. The plan seemed to make sense to Moses because he figured that the report would remind them of what they stood to gain and reinforce the need to act on the promise and take the land.

Reading about the tension that was rising between Moses and the people reminded what a difference perspective can make. Moses seemed incredulous that the people were so reluctant to move forward when God, the God of the universe, the God who had parted the Red Sea and cared for their every need in the wilderness, would fail to come through for them now. The people were equally mystified in Moses’ obvious lack of understanding regarding the impossibility of the situation. Sure, the land looked good, but the giants loomed that much larger. The two perspectives couldn’t be more diametrically opposed.

The whole thing sounded like the old proverb that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. God can lead you to his promise, but he can’t make you believe it. The people were looking at the situation through the lenses of “what is” and it resulted in great fear. Moses was looking at the situation and seeing the great potential that awaited them.

What happens when you look at what is going on around you? When you consider the circumstances where you find yourself are you overwhelmed by what you see, or hope for what can be? In terms of MBTI, are you more of an intuitive or sensate? Are fixated on what you can draw from you situation with your senses, or do you find yourself stuck on the potentialities? Certainly we need balance in the two dimensions, but we will always more naturally lean to one response or the other.

So what about God? My first thought was that He must be a strong iNtuitive. After all, the grand quote about God is that with Him “all things are possible.” That, in fact, we can do all things through Christ (God incarnate) who strengthens us. Talk about potential!
But what about those of us who were born in Missouri? You know us, we are the descendants of Thomas: we need to see it to believe it. God created us with our wiring as it is, so there must value to be a sensory oriented person, one who makes decisions based on what ‘is’ not the illusive “what might be.” Here’s what I think. I believe that God created both ends of the spectrum not only so that we would balance each other, but so that we could be more balanced individually. One is no more valuable or “right” than the other. While understanding our personality is helpful to getting a handle on our behavior, it seems to me it would best to understand God better. We need to learn to take Him at His word, that we can trust Him to come through on His promises.

Here’s what I suggest you do if you find you’re coming up a little short in the trust department, if the task God is asking you to face seems full of giants. Flip to the end of the book. It’s okay. God won’t mind. When you read the end you find that we win. Now turn back to Romans, and catch how Paul describes your position: In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. (Romans 8:37, NRSV) Oh, and here’s the one I really love. Find 2 Chronicles 20:20. Ezra leads up to this great verse by telling the people in verse 15: Do not fear or be dismayed at this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s. Then he reinforces this with verse 17: The battle is not for you to fight; take your position, stand still, and see the victory of the Lord on your behalf. Then the 20;20 moment comes the next day when they get up and go out to battle, he tells them: Listen to me, O Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God and you will be able to stand firm. Believe in his prophets, and you will succeed.

Our dependence on God results in 20:20 vision. So whether you more naturally get focused on what is right in front of you or you jump into all the potentiality of the moment, your vision will be perfect when you trust God and take him at His word. That’s the response that makes the most sense, because if you read on in Deuteronomy you’ll find that it really didn’t go very well for those who gave into their fears. For them it was back out into the wilderness and they never were able to experience the blessings of the Promised Land. And all the possibilities of that kind of experience make me want to be sure I’m holding onto God’s perspective. How about you?

Reflecting:
-Are you struggling with a difficult situation? Are the Giants closing in?
-What promises are you clinging to? What promises do you need to find to hold on?
-You may not feel like a winner right now, but keep reminding yourself that the battle is God’s and he sees you as more than a conqueror!