This morning my heart was pierced anew as I read God's word. These specific words of Jesus that are recorded in the gospel always get to me:
"Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?"
Mark 8:34B-37 (The Message)
These words get to me because I so miserably fail. I have this push inside of me to be in charge, I tend to follow my culture and want to get into all kinds of self-help ventures and think I can control my world. But the truth is that I have no real control; it's God who is in control of the universe. If I take the time and examine my life and my motives I spend entirely too much time pursuing things and lifestyles that bring me comfort and ease; that easier and softer way. I most definitely run from suffering or at least go out of my way to avoid it. I fill up my time with activities to help me avoid that natural anguish of the human condition.
But God shows me a different way. To be candid, when I read these words a part of me feel so lost - how can I do this? I guess the point is that I can't do it. I'm encouraged as I re read the passage and see that Jesus is coaxing me to follow Him and He'll show me how. So how do I follow Him? This is the question I bring to God in prayer this morning.
I'm so grateful that it's not my ability that I have to depend on, but it's God and His character. So I can have faith that He will show me how to follow Him and live my life His way.
What are some ways that God's shown you to follow Him?
I'm reading "Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading" by Eugene Peterson.
I can't say enough how much I adore Peterson's paraphrase of the bible entitled "The Message". For me it's like a breath of fresh air and helps me see scripture in a whole new light.
As for this book, I really enjoyed the introduction & first chapter. Peterson has a quote in the first chapter by Kafka that I love:
"If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it?...A book must be like an ice axe to break the frozen sea within us"
The bible is like that! I never cease to be pierced as I open my heart and read God's word; sometimes it's joy that radiates my soul, sometimes it's despair as I recognize anew the depths my own depravity...but it's definitely not just an instruction manual that I'm reading. I appreciate Peterson's call to relish, luxuriate and experience the Word of God.
However, to me it seems that once I read the introduction and first chapter the rest of the book is just a restating of that premise.
I'm just grateful to God for His goodness to me and want to live my life following after Him. I've been blessed with 3 awesome sons and in July of 2005 I remarried. My husband truly knows me and still loves me - how much more blessed could I be!
"Hope Beyond Hell The Righteous Purpose of God's Judgment " by D. Scott Reichard & Gerry Beauchemin
"Invitation to Solitue and Silence" by Ruth Haley Barton
"Nehemiah; a heart that can break" by Kelly Minter
"Prayers that avail much for leaders" compiled by Germaine Copeland and Lane Holland
"Raising Hell" by Julie Ferwerda
I'll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I've swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember— the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there's one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God's loyal love couldn't have run out, his merciful love couldn't have dried up. They're created new every morning. How great your faithfulness!
I'm sticking with God (I say it over and over). He's all I've got left. God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits, to the woman who diligently seeks. It's a good thing to quietly hope, quietly hope for help from God. It's a good thing when you're young to stick it out through the hard times. When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don't ask questions: Wait for hope to appear. Don't run from trouble. Take it full-face. The "worst" is never the worst.
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Perceptive words spread knowledge; fools are hollow—there's nothing to them. GOD can't stand pious poses, but he delights in genuine prayers. A life frittered away disgusts GOD; he loves those who run straight for the finish line.
You'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.
So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God.