God does so much and asks so little

There could be many titles to this blog post—
God Does Much And Asks So Little,
Aha (!) Moments are God Moments,
God is in Control,
Queen of Procrastination

aha moment god momentYup, that’s me, queen of procrastination. It probably doesn’t matter what the title is, but I will likely spend as much time considering the title as writing this post. I have to get back to my studies so, of course, this is a perfect time for the cloud of procrastination to cover all reasonable attempts to get something done.

But I had an aha (!) moment and I have to capture it. Technically, it’s two aha (!) moments that converge, but anyway, here goes—a creative attempt at procrastination cloaked in inspired productivity.

The past several days I have read all four Gospels of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, AND John. And not just the miracles or the well-known parables, but from beginning to end; every chapter, every verse. And for each of the Gospels, I’ve also read a chapter in my textbook, The New Testament by Stephen L. Harris, for a class I’m taking at Creighton University. Each chapter comments on key topics, themes, author, date and place of composition, various sources used, the intended audience and interpretations.

I don’t have the words yet for all that I’ve learned, but that’s also why I’m procrastinating. I need to find some words (very soon) to write an 1800 word paper, due in 48 hours, responding to this prompt: Explain the story of the life of Jesus as portrayed in the Gospel of John, and compare it to either Matthew or Luke and how this might relate to ministry today.

I trust the words will come, but this first. Here goes….

Surprisingly (to me) each of the four Gospels share a unique portrayal of Jesus, his life, death, resurrection, and ultimate purpose of all of the above. Ninety percent of the content in the Gospel of John is not in the other three synoptic Gospels. Who knew?

It’s hard to capture the diversity of the Gospels with just daily readings and/or what one hears on Sunday mornings. The Jesus that is portrayed in the Gospel of John parallels some of the Wisdom speeches in the Hebrew Bible.

This is where the aha (!) moment comes in.  As I read through the selections from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Wisdom of Solomon, I am overwhelmed by how much Wisdom, the Spirit of God, does for me:

Wisdom

Wisdom searches the streets for those willing to receive her.  ~  Wisdom lifts her voice, cries out, stands at the crossroads, calls, appeals, speaks clearly, bestows, shows the way, fashions, plays, delights, covers, decrees, remains, takes root among the people, loves what is good and guides.  ~  Wisdom has ability, understanding, power.   ~    Wisdom makes all things new, enters into holy souls and labors at our side.  ~  Wisdom is intelligent, holy, unique, made up of many parts, subtle, free-moving, lucid, spotless, clear, invulnerable, kindly towards men, all-powerful, all-surveying.  ~   Wisdom is the brightness that streams from everlasting light, the flawless mirror of the active power of God and the image of his goodness.   ~   Wisdom permeates all intelligent, pure and delicate spirits.

And this is what Wisdom desires from me:

Listen! Love me. Search me. Keep my ways. Come to me. Eat your fill of my fruit. Feed on me. Drink from me.

Wow. God does so much for me. And asks so little.

While on retreat this summer, the spiritual director that I met with daily asked me to reflect on what God is responsible for or in control of versus what I am responsible for or in control of. As I reflected on each of my thoughts and actions throughout the day, I created this list:

god is in control

At the end of the day, it was apparent to me that very little is in my control and that very much comes from God.

God, or Spirit, is the very breath of life. I am always and forever dependent on the gift of each moment. And I am always and forever responsible for my reaction to this great gift.

God is the creator and great mover of all. My response to this is to be authentic, prayerful, grateful, committed, attentive, and discerning.  I am responsible for my actions, thoughts, and response to God and others.

I am not in control and never have been. If ever things felt “under control” or to my liking, it was just the way it happened to be, not because I had commanded it. It is a freedom to know that I don’t cause order or chaos. My role, what I am called to do, is to listen to, search for and follow God.  The Spirit of God proclaims, “Those who love me I love, and those who search for me find me .” -Proverbs 8:17

find me

God does so much and asks so little.

“Wisdom is both the means by which God creates and the channel through whom he communicates to humankind.”  -The New Testament, Stephen L. Harris

Note: This post is about 800 words so I’m hopeful that I can crank this paper out in a few days. 

Sneak-a-peak at Luke vs. John: An 1800ish word paper

Made for Goodness: A Child of God

struggle made for goodnessA few years ago, in our attempt to downsize and declutter, I attacked the hundreds of books I own with an attitude of discernment. Where should this book reside? Where would it’s best home be? Shall I keep it to read again or send it along to be enjoyed by another reader?

I was particularly torn about one book, Made for Goodness by Desmond Tutu. It was a book my Circle read and discussed together. When I thumbed through the book, discerning, I opted to take a few photos of the pages that had truly made an impression on me, save them and send the book on where it could be loved by another. (Disclaimer: Some books are wistfully retrieved from the send-to-another-home pile and placed back on my bookshelf. With books – and life – this letting go is a journey.)

Yesterday, I came across a photo from this book, a poem written by Tutu for his daughter as seen through the eyes of God. I immediately thought of a friend who could use the comfort and encouragement of this message and started drafting an email to forward the image.

But, wait….I read it again and thought, “This is such a comforting message. I wish every child, every person, knew how loved and special they are; that they need not be so hard on themselves.” I thought of my daughter and my cousin’s daughters. Taking a little detour from the poem (summer days allow for such excursions), I started looking at baby photos of my little cousins, my daughter….and I stumbled upon a baby picture of myself.

I returned to the poem a third time, this time finally realizing that it is meant for me too.  I hear, “Walk slowly. Listen, for God is speaking. You are accompanied. You are known; uniquely created. Be faithful. Trust and it won’t matter how the road may turn. It’s not where you are going, but how. God is with you.”

Perhaps you need to hear this message today too. Here are the words of Desmond Tutu:

Don’t struggle and strive so, my child.
There is no race to complete, no point to prove, no obstacle course to conquer for you to win my love.
I have already given it to you.
I loved you before creation drew its first breath.
I dreamed you as I molded Adam from the mud.
I saw you wet from the womb.
I loved you then.

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. ~Psalm 139:13baby

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Stop racing ahead at your own pace; you will only be exhausted, flamed out and spent before the task is accomplished.
Pace yourself with me, walk alongside me.

Do you think I don’t know the demands of your life?
I see you striving for perfection, craving acceptance.
I see you bending yourself out of shape to conform to the image that you have of me.
Do you imagine that I did not know who you were when I made you, when I knit you together in your mother’s womb?
Do you think I planted you as a fig tree and expected you to bloom roses?
No child, I sowed what I wanted to reap.

Be still and know that I am God! ~Psalm 46:11

baby2

You are a child after my own heart.
Seek out your deepest joy and you will find me there.
Find that which makes you perfectly yourself and know that I am at the heart of it.
Do what delights you and you will be working with me, walking with me, finding your life in me.

My precious child, I will call you to account for nothing more than I have asked of you. Just be faithful to the task I have set before you.
Whether you succeed or not is no matter to me.
Live as you hear me speak in you.
Live in the truth you learn from me, then it won’t matter how the road may turn.
The goodness you live will set you free.

I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. ~Psalm 131:2

baby love

May you recognize in your life the presence, power and light of your soul.
May you have respect for your individuality and difference.
May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique, that you have a special destiny here.
May you not disrespect your mystery through brittle words of false belonging.
May the frames of your belonging be generous enough for your dreams.
May the expectation in others eyes never decide how you are to be.
May you be blessed with good friends and learn to be a good friend yourself.
May you have friends who can see you.

Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
Respond to the call of your gift and have courage to follow its path.
May your outer dignity mirror the inner dignity of your soul.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May you have the courage to speak for the excluded ones.
May you learn to see yourself with the same delight, pride and expectation with which God sees you in every moment.

me1

The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. In green pastures he makes me lie down; to still waters he leads me; he restores my soul. He guides me along right paths for the sake of his name. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me. ~Psalm 23: 1-4

Baby photos: Hadley, Harper (my cousin’s babies),  Jessica and me.
We’ve got good genes in our family. All beautiful babies 🙂

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