For I desire steadfast love not sacrifice… Hosea 6:6 Sometimes we mistake sacrifice (the act of giving up something of value for something else) for love. While love is certainly filled with gives and takes, it’s more about letting go of the things we’ve collected, the knowledge we’ve gained and the judgments to which we’ve held. It should be easy but we forget that Love existed unconditionally before any of those things. Love is not about giving up something. Love is about opening our hearts to receive the one thing that so completely surpasses all our understanding, that everything else simply steps aside.
A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Isaiah 40-1-11 Sometimes what we see are clouds but the rains that break through actually waters the earth preparing it for new growth. Receiving it with an open heart will clear a path for the brightness of the sun that is waiting to shine on our faces with the renewed life of Christ within us; strengthened for the journey ahead. Don’t ever stop listening for the voice!
“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts.” Hebrews 4:1-10 This is the third time in Paul’s letter to the Hebrews that he encourages them to listen to the voice that speaks the truth about God’s love and God’s mercy for those who believe. He encourages them not to be like their ancestors in the wilderness. Today we work so hard at building our relationship with our children because we want to spare them the struggles that we experienced. Yet there are times when they refuse to listen. There are things we say that simply go “in one ear and out the other.” So too, I believe that God has given us his Word through Christ that we may not struggle. Each day given is an opportunity to hear and respond to the Gospel. As I think of the numerous things my mother has shared with me to which I payed little attention, I am thankful that God has given me today, that I may listen. Today I seek to hear. Today my heart is open to respond.
Let us continue to pray and encourage our children and one another to hear and obey according to God’s truth and we too shall enter His rest.
Luke describes Jesus’ baptism as the Holy Spirit descending upon him in bodily form like a dove. In remembering my own baptism, while quite exhilarating, the only thing I felt was cool water rushing away from my body as I was pulled up out of the water. I could however, imagine what it was like for the many who came to John to be baptized. However, John himself admitted that this was just a physical outward experience representing the initiation of what will happen later on the inside, a change in how we understand ourselves as God’s own. As our thoughts begin to change, so will our actions. Although some of those actions have caused “Mountain top” as well as “Damascus” events in my life, I now realize that they were all part of the journey that I’ve taken since that “dip” in the water. Back then, I may not have seen the heavens open up or felt the Holy Spirit embrace me like the giant wings of a dove but what did open up was my heart making room for what John the Baptist promised would happen; the discerning of the Holy Spirit. To the glory of God, I’ve been changing ever since.
Luke 3:16 ‘I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.