I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13
Great news; I can do ALL things! Maybe I’ll begin by leaping a tall building with a single bound or establishing world peace by lunchtime or maybe get the crumbs cleaned out of the silverware tray! Somehow I don’t think that’s what Paul was saying to thePhilippians.
The key words in this verse are not “I can do all things” but rather “through Christ”. We weren’t created by God to be super heroes, or to live each day breaking our neck trying to do a hundred things to please everyone we know. We were created to be His hands and feet here on earth. I don’t recall a single passage in Sacred Scripture that described Jesus multi-tasking, over-booking His schedule or helping only those who could help him back. The beauty of this verse is that he’s not asking us to bear the burdens of the world and do ALL things. He’s inviting us to be open to his plan and let him supply the direction, grace, mercy, love and strength we need. In our acts of loving service, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of ALL the things we’re trying to accomplish and prayerfully sort through them. Maybe we’re trying to do a task that was meant to bring somebody else closer to God! Notice those in your faith community; maybe our greatest task of the day is as simple as stopping to listen carefully to a person who just really needs to be heard.
A Seed To Plant: In your daily prayer take a look at your “to do” list and ask God for the wisdom to know which tasks are really yours. Spend some time studying the way your favorite saint stayed focused on the one thing God was asking of them.
Blessings on your day!
And all this is from God who has reconciled himself to us through Jesus…2 Corinthians 5:18
A long time ago I had a co-worker who was difficult to work with. She was a bigger challenge than putting on panty hose on a hot August day! It seemed that no matter how hard I tried, how friendly I was or how efficient I became, I just couldn’t please her. Every day before work I would ask God to give me a heap of patience so I wouldn’t have boiling blood by noon. Most days I was at a slow simmer by 10 am and I would feel like God wasn’t listening or I just wasn’t trying hard enough. Luckily, it was just a summer job but I have never forgotten that experience. I remember it because just like that summer, there have been plenty of other times I have found myself in a pickle and I go into prayer asking God to give me patience or understanding or whatever the necessary grace might be and then I trot off to fix the situation. It wasn’t until recently that I realized I didn’t have it quite right. In his book God Help Me, Jim Beckman offered a thought that spun me around like a top!
“I was using a self-help approach to Christianity. I would diagnose myself and then, like a good doctor, prescribe myself a prescription like patience. Then I went to God and told him to fill the prescription. Is it any wonder nothing ever changed? The language itself is all wrong anytime we find ourselves telling God what to do we’re in trouble. At the very center of this self-help approach to prayer was ME, not GOD.” He goes on to explain that the whole mystery of our faith is realizing Jesus is the center, not us. We can never live a perfect life as humans but we can through Jesus. “God doesn’t want you to live the Christian life; if that’s what you think the invitation is, you’ve got it all wrong. He wants Jesus to live the Christian life in you! And through Jesus you are to become the very righteousness of God.”
When I did some serious thinking about this information, I realized that it wasn’t at all about the behavior of that tricky woman one summer a long time ago. It was about what Christ was trying to teach me about myself through her. He was inviting me to look deeply at myself so he could reveal and teach. I discovered looking back that I was angry and hurt at that point in my life and he was trying to get me to turn those things over to him, but I couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with that, I wanted to find another way out. Looking back it was like riding my bike into a wall every day and expecting it to move! He was trying to mend my heart and show me some truths, but I was wasting all my prayer time demanding he give me the tools to fix somebody else.
I’d like to say that I’m much older now and I’ve moved past such silly prayer mistakes but the truth is I needed these words right now just as much as I needed them that summer long ago. I need to stop complicating things and let God be God. I need to stop approaching prayer with a self-help attitude and begin to let God reveal and teach and love me; that takes an honest and open heart. Whew…I’ve got some work to do!
A Seed To Plant: Listen to your prayer words this week. Are you self-prescribing or letting God be the center?
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. Psalm 18:3
The first few weeks of a new school year are always an adjustment for everyone! Sometimes I feel a little sorry for the first graders because they have so much to get used to and remember those first days. The first all school mass is always memorable. The second grade teacher whose class sits behind mine at mass always has his eyes open ready to catch a stunt or two that makes him giggle. I’ve had dancers, acrobats and sleepers over the years, but nothing tops the boys with the flyin’ elbows!
When I assign the kids to their church seating order, I always remind them to "leave room between ya for Jesus. That is of course code for…if you’re not right beside each other, it’s harder to chat and touch! On one particular Friday, Jesus had obviously achieved enormous success on Weight Watchers because the two boys in the front pew had to leave practically NO room for Him at all! As they sat there quite close, one “accidentally” had his elbow land in the other little boy’s rib cage. So, the favor was promptly returned playfully…a few elbows later, they burst into an uncontrollable case of the giggles. I slipped out of my seat and made my way toward the ruckus. As the little boy on the right heard my footsteps approaching; he slid into his proper spot and sat silently with his arms tightly crossed in an attempt to control his elbow. I took a seat between these two handsome giggling boys and it soon became very clear to me that the little boy on my left had NO idea I had taken the spot beside him. My suspicion was confirmed when he threw the next elbow and it landed in MY rib cage…his loud gasp indicated that he indeed realized his elbow had landed in squishy new territory. It took ALL I had not to burst into giggles myself! I’m sure this little guy felt like his elbow had landed smack dab into a wall (a padded wall perhaps)! The shock of it was obvious in his gasp, his posture and his tightly closed eyes and bowed head.
I know that feeling! I’ve never gotten it from banging into a teachers rib cage, but I have had the feeling.
How about you? Have you ever been crusin’ through life, thinking everything is goin’ fine and then THUD…right into a wall or a dead end? I HATE it when that happens! If you’re anything like me, it usually happens just about the time I think I have everything all figured out and I try to do some of God’s work for Him. That wall is usually a signal that I’ve strayed which is because I haven’t prayed with a sincere, still heart! Being the strong, independent CHRISTIAN WOMAN I am…I usually charge right at that wall again…same result…and usually accompanied by a LARGE dent in my humility, several scratches to my pride and of course a bruised spirit!
Why would I charge into walls when I have been reminded a dozen times a week that my ONLY strength comes from God? The sin of pride I guess…but this simple verse from Psalm 18 holds such an important truth…God is my fortress…God is my deliverer…God is my rock! I don’t have to whack into walls and try to plow through situations that are not mine to experience.
When I came upon this verse, my mind pictured God as a mighty warrior with armor and a shield as bright as the blazing sun and He was poised to crash through a mighty wall just for me. I was in the image too…I was about as big as a mouse standing behind Him no taller than the heel of His boot. He was willing to take down that wall for me no matter how meek and tiny I was… just because He could! How many times do we get a quiet invitation from God to do something but we don’t answer the call because we think the task is too big? Not for God! He is after all a fortress…He can help us plow through anything if He’s invited us to! The challenge I guess is for us to keep our elbows to ourselves and listen for God to tell us which walls He’ll be crashing through with us today!
A seed to plant: Jot down something you’ve been trying again and again to accomplish without success. Fold up that piece of paper and lay it aside. This week the “wall” on that piece of paper is what you should pray constantly for, asking God to show you how to maneuver that wall!
Blessings on your day!
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