Lent Day 23

Navigating the Wilderness

Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of one bread. 1 Corinthians 10:14-11:1 Here we are in the fourth week of the season of Lent and in the whole scheme of the season it’s kind of like a hump week. We started out perhaps thinking of ways in which we can face the wilderness that is in our own lives; the things we feel are tempting us and pulling us away from God. We’ve identified perhaps some emotions, distractions or fears that we want to face that may be keeping us from seeing God’s purpose in our lives, or may be keeping us from seeing God altogether. Initially we begin stumbling. As we become more committed to the change, generally by the fourth week we realize that we are catching ourselves, and we are more conscious of what it is we have either let go of or have added in our lives – in order that we may experience a true change in our relationship with God. One of the goals in Lent is basically to get to the other side of that wilderness. Once you are there the challenge is to stop going back across. As we are midway through the season of Lent, hold to the faith that ours is a journey not meant to walk alone. Together, the strength we have in the one bread that is Christ will sustain us and carry us through.

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Lent Day 22

Navigating the Wilderness

…there is nothing outside a person that by going in can defile…  Mark 7:1-23 One summer I went south to visit my paternal grandmother. While there I took her to the market because she wanted to fix a roast for dinner. I took it upon myself to help her find just the right piece of lean beef that I could find. One look and she quickly rejected everything I pulled out.  Finally she reached down and pulled up a piece of meat that had the thickest strip of fat running right through the middle. While handing me her selection she pointed to that strip of fat and said in her small southern voice; “that’s what makes it tendah” and tender it was! I was concerned about eating lean. She was concerned about eating food that tasted good. We can’t always control everything and in this situation I didn’t want to. The week I spent with her I am certain I gained a few pounds, not merely from the food but primarily from her outpouring of hospitality in love I was blessed to receive. The pounds I could lose, but her love I have forever.

Lent Day 21

Navigating the Wilderness

I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some.  1 Corinthians 9:16-27  Paul already knows that not everyone will receive him as an apostle in Christ but it won’t be for lack of trying. As a believer he celebrated with the Jews, practiced law with the Pharisees, prayed with the Gentiles and ate with the marginalized. With all the world has to offer, detours in life are bound to happen. No one promises that the journey will be straight. Don’ suffer the detours! Remember, the purpose for the journey never changes; to proclaim the gospel, and to praise and glorify God in order that others may also come to believe.

 

 

Lent Day 20

Navigating the Wilderness

…like sheep without a shepherd…  Mark 6:30-46  From my own experience, children go through a phase where they will follow you everywhere, including the bathroom. They want to know where you are and what you’re doing at every moment. It’s a time in which rest for the weary isn’t always an option. Looking back, knowing that one day they would be responsible for navigating there own way, those are times I am ever grateful to have had with my own little sheep. After having taught the crowd, the disciples were eager for Jesus to send them on their way. Though weary, Jesus, in his compassion knew that he couldn’t let them go without having fed them in body and spirit that they may be fully strengthened for the journey, as they were in a deserted place. Surely the time would come when they too would have to navigate their own journey in this wilderness and in both faith and hope, it will be times such as these they will remember as they see their way through.

Finding Faith In God’s Forgiveness

Navigating the Wilderness

Knowledge puffs up but love builds up.  1 Corinthians 8:1-13  My mother was what others called “good people.” I know this because when she died numerous friends and acquaintances shared how instrumental she was in helping other people unconditionally, when ever she could and where ever she was. Our society has made a tremendous amount of scientific, medical and technological advances. As complex as they can be, the simplest advance we seem to have the most trouble with is our ability to love one another as we would love our self. This is not to say that we have not taken any steps towards love, we’ve simply only taken baby steps. We charge one another for love, (perhaps unknowingly) with our conditions, for what God unconditionally gives for free. We are called to love unconditionally, but when an act of what appears to be unconditional love happens we’re in awe!  The advances in the world have allowed us to have more distractions than our parents and our children today have yet even more distractions than we had. The more advances we continue to create for ourselves the larger the world’s wilderness becomes and navigating unconditional love through that wilderness seems impossible. No doubt, unconditional love is a huge risk and can be quite painful but we must remember that the first act of unconditional love through Christ is still the only advancement in this life that continues to save us. When infection took over my mother’s body there was no advancement in science, medicine or technology that could save her. It didn’t matter because I knew that she had navigated her way to eternal life.

 

Lent Day 18

Questioning God

Is not this the carpenter..?  Mark 6:1-13  There is so much more of God than any one person could ever know. If we are created in God’s image, then we can never truly know one another. In faith we are challenged to look beyond what we see. If in faith we believe in what is yet unseen, who might this “carpenter” be for us? Created in God’s image, who might we be for one another?

Lent Day 17

Questioning God

You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say – Who touched me?  Mark 5:21-43  It’s quite easy to get swept up in a crowd. If one is the ultra-sensitive type a crowd probably isn’t the place to be because you will get bumped and you are not likely to know who bumped you unless the perpetrator risks apologizing for having invaded your space. In Lent the crowd merely represents the barriers we must sometimes break through. As we become more focused on our commitment, in faith, we must be willing to invade God’s space.

Lent Day 16

Questioning God

What have you to do with me..? Mark 5:1-20 Should I just eat the candy this one time or can I be strong enough to sacrifice one moment of pleasure in order to lose weight? Every now and then we all struggle with our conscious. From craving sweets to fighting peer pressure or battling serious addictions, a struggling conscious can be tormenting. When Jesus is confronted by a man with an “unclean spirit”, he pleads with Jesus not to torment him. Christ already knows that this man has suffered and struggled with himself and his community long enough. Jesus is not interested in tormenting him any further. Christ’s ministry is about healing. I think the fact that we are struggling is an indication that the Holy Spirit within us is striving to be at the forefront of our lives. Once we realize that our arms are simply too short to put up a fight, we can begin to allow the Holy Spirit within to take precedence and do what it does best; bring us to healing.

Lent Day 15

Questioning God

…Teacher, do you not care… One of the painful things for a parent to hear from a child  is to be accused of not caring. Often it surrounds something quite simple such as a pair of sneakers or item of clothing they need in order to safely move through the “in crowd.” For them it is truly a life and death situation.  You know that it is anything but that. Our job is to stand by them and support them to make sure they get through unscathed, all the while working hard to convince them that they are the “in-crowd”; the leaders of choosing for themselves and not based on others. Before you know it your child has reached the other side that is adulthood realizing how much you really did care. Jesus was right there with the disciples in the boat, when the windstorm rose up and they questioned his concern for their life. After having been with him all this time and seeing his works of love it must have hurt. Yet like a mother to a child he didn’t turn his back, he just simply calmed the storm as they safely reached the other side. So too, the disciples would soon realize just how much God really does care.

Lent Day 14

Questioning God

I am the one you have bereaved of children; Joseph is no more, and Simeon is no more, and now you would take Benjamin.  Genesis 4:29-38 It is said that loss comes in threes. Certainly, there have been times I have experienced traumatic events in triple. Perhaps a coincidence, nonetheless the feeling is like the weight of a giant snowball rolling down a mountainside that can’t be stopped. We find Jacob at the foot of a mountain watching that rolling snowball, pushed at the hands of his own sons, and headed towards his youngest son Benjamin. Where is God? We are not the first to question God and we won’t be the last. In our most difficult times hope becomes a fine line that we must walk like a tightrope artist, knowing that if we don’t focus on the gravitational pulls of life we perhaps will stumble but we will not fall; or if down we’re never out. Our tunneled faith will guide us through until we reach firm ground and Paul’s words to the Corinthians come to light; ..do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within in you..? If God’s Spirit is within us, God’s strength is within us as well.