Friday, February 28, 2020

lilies

"Like a weaned child is my soul within me." (Psalm 131:2)

Don't I wish!  Yet the reality within me tells a different story.  I long for this to be true: to have a stilled and quieted soul, to be like a weaned child, safe in the loving arms of its mother.  But that is simply not my reality most days.  In fact, it's quite the opposite.  Even after praying this line every Friday for almost three years. . .not so much.  My soul is still consumed and chaotic, churning and spinning with all of the worries and concerns of this life that I simply can't seem to let go of.  Oh how I wish I could be like the lilies of the field who do not labor or spin. (Luke 12:27)  But I am not.  Instead my mind and my heart and my soul are like a broken record, constantly playing and replaying conversations and scenarios and circumstances that will probably never even come to pass.  It's maddening.

But I'll have to admit, that even in the midst of all this spinning, I am still so grateful to have the words of this ancient prayer to offer hope that such a life is indeed possible.  That one day I will be so deeply convinced that God really is both able and willing to care for me, and all of my worries and fears, that I can actually trust him, and simply be, just like the lilies.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

the real work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do, 
we have come to our real work 
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

                                  ~Wendell Berry


How necessary it is in the spiritual life to "come to the end of ourselves."  Oh sure, we can go through life pretending like we have it all together, like we actually know where we are going and what we are doing, but there comes a day when all of that comes crashing down--and, unfortunately, it usually takes a crash.  There comes a time when we see all too clearly that what we have experienced of God, and of life, up to that point was just a prelude for the work God really wanted to do.  And now we are finally ready, he just needed to get our egos out of the way first.  So he allowed us to run out of gas, or into a brick wall.  Just enough to stop us in our tracks.  A severe mercy, some might call it.  Not something we would have chosen, but something that we would never trade.  A difficult time and a hard season that brought us to a spacious and abundant place.  A place where we were finally able to stop trying and start being.  Because that's when the best work, the real work, takes place.  It just took a while to get us there. 



Saturday, February 15, 2020

prove it

“If you are the Son of God. . . .” (Matthew 4:3, 6)  And there you have it.  The enemy tips his hand right from the start.  His chief strategy for attacking Jesus, as well as attacking us, is to go straight for our identity.  The greatest temptation Jesus faced in the wilderness was not hunger, or the loneliness, or even power, but the temptation to try and prove himself.  “If you are the Son of God, then prove it.”

That’s why God gave him those beautiful words after his baptism, to remind him of who he really was.  Before Jesus had performed one miracle, or healed one disease, he was told by God that he was Beloved.  It was not something he had to achieve, it was not something he had to prove, it was a truth he was given to live out of.  How incredibly kind of the Father it was to remind him of the truth, because in the wilderness Jesus would encounter all kinds of lies.  The core lie being: “You are really not the Son of God.”

Why should we expect that our greatest temptation in the spiritual life—and the biggest lie we tend to believe—would be any different?  I don’t know about you, but my doubts about the fact that I am worth be loved, and my desperate need to prove myself (and my value), infect everything I do.  And when I live out of that dark place I am not able to be the fearful and wonderful creation that God made me to be.  In fact, I become the very worst version of myself: possessive, controlling, competitive, demanding, defensive, aggressive, insecure.

That’s why I am so grateful that Jesus comes to each of us and says, “Do not give in to this desperate need to try and prove yourself.  You have nothing to prove!  Your identity and your value have already been determined long, long ago.  They have been bestowed upon you.  Nothing you can do can change that.  Live in that truth and in that freedom, because if you don’t it will keep you from being the loving, grateful, humble man I created you to be.”

Friday, February 14, 2020

you are loved

"Like a weaned child with it's mother is my soul within me." (Psalm 131:2) You are LOVED!


     shhh

you press your finger
to my lips
to gently quiet
the voices
without and within

hush now, my child
be still and quiet
my little one
just sit with me a while
and let me hold you

Monday, February 10, 2020

become less

what if john and jesus were right
what if the point of this life 
was not to become more
but to become less

how profoundly different
this world would be
in the best possible way

right would give way to love
pride would succumb to humility
other would take precedence over self
and revelation would replace validation

affirmation and admiration
would be things of the past
and hiddenness and service
would be the treasure in the field

for trying to become more
always leads to far less
and becoming less
always makes us more

it is the dying of self
that leads to real life