Wednesday, October 18, 2017

return

"...you have scattered your favors
to foreign gods under every spreading tree..."
"Return, faithless people," declares the Lord,
"for I am your husband." (Jer. 3:13-14)


o my bride
my church
i am your God
your husband
your lover 

i made you for myself
that i might give myself to you
that you might live with me
in a sacred romance
in union and intimacy
beyond your wildest dreams

but you have turned away
you have given
the most intimate
parts of yourself
to other lovers

you have given your
attention and affection
to foreign gods
that do not love you
the way i do

you have scattered
your favors to them
under every green tree

o my love
my bride
what shall i do with you
you have broken my heart

how i long to be
the focus of all your love
the object of
your deepest affections

how i long for you
to return to our bed
that i might show
my love to you once again.

but i will not share you
with another
i will not compete
for your love

you must leave
your other lovers
and return to me

return to me
my love
my bride
for i am
your one true love


 

Monday, October 9, 2017

yoke

Come to me you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)


What yoke are you wearing these days?  It seems like a bit of an odd question, doesn't it?  What the heck is a yoke anyway?  

According to the dictionary, a yoke is a device for joining together a pair of draft animals, especially oxen, usually consisting of a crosspiece with two bow-shaped pieces, each enclosing the head of an animal.  The Greek word used here is zygos, which comes from the root zeugnumi, meaning to join.  So when Jesus invites us to take his yoke upon us, he is inviting us to join ourselves to him in some mysteriously intimate way.  He is inviting us to do life with him in such a way that he bears the brunt of the burden, not us.  Thus, the end result of us taking his yoke upon us is rest for our souls.  It follows that if we are weary and burdened in our lives, we must be wearing a yoke other than that of Jesus.  Someone or something has slipped in and put a load on us that we were never meant to bear.

So I ask again, what yoke are you wearing these days, and where did it come from?  What burdens are you carrying?  What load is upon you?  Is it possible that you have taken on a yoke than is not meant for you?  A load that only Jesus can carry?

An old legend goes that Jesus, being a the son of a carpenter, specialized in yokes.  People would come from miles around because he was the best.  He was the only one who could make a yoke that was perfectly fit for the animal that was to wear it.  And he does the same with each of us.  He has made a yoke that is perfectly fit for you and for me.  Why would we wear anything else?  But we do.  We continually carry burdens that are not our own.  We continually wear a yoke that was put upon us, either by ourselves, or by others, or by the world.

The yoke of this world says, "increase," but the yoke of Jesus says, "decrease."  The yoke of the world says, "climb," but the yoke of Jesus says, "descend."  The yoke of the world says, "make yourself something," but the yoke of Jesus says, "make yourself nothing."  The world's yoke will exhaust you and wear you out, but the yoke of Jesus will renew and restore you to your true self.  "My yoke fits perfectly," says Jesus, "because it was made for you.  Wear my yoke, take it upon you, and you will find rest for your souls."

through

Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you.  Blessed are those whose strength is in you, who have set their hearts on pilgrimage.  As they pass through the Valley of Baca, they make it a place of springs; the autumn rains also cover it with pools.  They go from strength to strength, till each appears before God in Zion. ~Psalm 84:4-7


All of us, at some point in our lives, must travel through the Valley of Weeping (Baca in Hebrew means "weeping")--it is simply unavoidable.  It is an inevitable part of this life.  Therefore, we should not be surprised, or disgusted, when we find ourselves in its midst.  That is why the one who has set his heart on pilgrimage is blessed.  He realizes that the journey through this difficult terrain is simply a part of the trek.  Because of that, he is able to make the Valley of Weeping into a place of springs. 

You see, adversity comes to us all.  The key lies in how each of us chooses to travel this stretch of the journey.  We must not allow the experience of pain and suffering to make us angry or bitter.  We must not allow ourselves to get depressed and discouraged.  We must not lose heart.  We must realize that there is no way out, only through.  We must realize that even this (whatever this may be), as difficult as it is, can have a positive result in God's economy.  We must realize that God often uses the most difficult things in our lives to accomplish some of the best results within us.  We must realize that God is so big that he can use the heartache and heartbreak of this life to nourish and nurture and strengthen our hearts and souls in ways that nothing else can; and that we will be better, stronger, more loving men and women at the end of this journey than we were at the beginning.  Thus, we become able to move from strength to strength, until each of us stands before God in Zion. 

The Valley of Weeping need not defeat us, or throw us into despair, but holds the possibility of making us more the ones God intended us to be when he breathed us into being.  God is our strength.  He is with us in the midst of the struggle.  He is using the Valley of Weeping in the process of us becoming all he dreamt us to be.

So the morale of the story (or the Psalm) seems to be this: When adversity comes--and it will--remember that there is no way out, only through.  God is with you.  He is your strength.  He will make a way for you.  So put your trust in him.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

be exalted

whenever i begin
to think that this life
is all about me
be exalted o lord

whenever i forget
that i am only a small part
of your good creation
be exalted o lord

whenever i get
confused and consumed
by the worries of this world
be exalted o lord

whenever i start
spinning around in
my own needs and concerns
be exalted o lord

and remind me
that this life
is not about me
but about you