Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
Speak Lord, your servant is listening. Samuel 3:9
I am 20 days into my 30 minutes for 30 days challenge and every day there is a little something that settles into my mind or heart. Along with those four lines; wreck me, break me, change me, draw me tight I often find myself asking, “Lord, what was I born to do?” That seems like a strange question for someone my age but it’s been a good one to ponder. I haven’t had that experience of hearing the voice of God speak like James Earl Jones or Morgan Freeman but he’s sent me some thoughts through the most random places. I thought I’d share three of my favorites.
One day I was thinking about heaven and what was truly required to get there. I realized that sometimes I have a “minimum requirement” way of thinking. I know we’re all busy and we’re encouraged to live our best life but I spent some time asking the questions in my mind and heart. Less than an hour after leaving church I came across this quote that seemed pretty direct. “ We often hear life is short better enjoy it. But how about eternity is long better prepare for it.” That advanced my thoughts beyond minimum requirements.
A couple of days later I was feeling like I should be “doing” something during these 30 minutes. I should be reading Scripture or praying or studying or pouring out my heart to the Lord. I was having a hard time just being still and listening. I actually left the church that day saying, “Lord if this is really what I’m supposed to be doing I need you to let me know that you want me to keep it up.” I came home, opened up my computer and came across this quote from Fulton Sheen. “Most commit the same mistake with God they commit with their friends; they do all the talking.” That was pretty clear so I absolutely went back the next day!
The third very vivid way He made his point came after three days of wrestling with the “break me” part of my prayer. I asked Him to show me all the things that I needed Him to break away from my heart and my habits. He showed me a whole list of things and I began to justify and realized this was going to take a lot of work, prayer and discipline on my part. I thought about changes but they were small because I didn’t want to get too uncomfortable. I didn’t want to make things too hard and I was all about the small steps approach. I knew this part of the prayer would take a whole lot of work and again I began to justify and ask the question, “Ok God, seriously, that isn’t that bad right?” The very next day this is what I came across while working on a retreat I will be giving in a couple of weeks. “Lukewarm people don’t really want to be saved from their sins, they just want to be saved from the penalty of their sins.” I think I’m going to have to turn up the heat!
He's making it pretty clear that He’s listening…now to get down to the business of putting his direction into action.
A Seed To Plant: Be intentional in your prayer this week and spend more time asking God a question and then really being quiet to hear the answer.
Blessings on your day!
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. Romans 12:2
It started with a story that just took root in my heart. It was a story about a criminal who admittedly deserved his life sentence. His heart was hard but after decades in prison and the unrivaled power and mercy of Jesus, he changed. In his 70’s after over fifty years behind bars, he met a man who had something he had never seen and desperately wanted for himself. The younger man was unjustly sent to prison for financial crimes. He was a fall guy and certainly no danger to society but he chose to embrace the sentence as an opportunity to examine his life, his gifts and his service to the Lord. He spent hundreds and hundreds of hours in the prison chapel adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and it transformed him to a man of joy, gratitude, contentment and humility. The older prisoner recognized the young man was different and he wanted what he had. The younger man told him he needed to spend 1 hour a day in Adoration for 30 straight days. He was to take no bible, rosary, prayer book or music. It was to simply be a time of emptying and listening. On the 30th day he experienced a transformation that was dramatic and complete. The priest who shared the story then challenged everyone listening to commit to 30 minutes a day for 30 days.
The whole story just sat there for nearly six weeks before I finally decided to accept the challenge. I decided to wait for the New Year but then I got busy and by the time I finally got myself to the church to do the first day it was already January the 6th. I started my time feeling bad about taking so long to get started but then I realized that it was the feast of the Epiphany which means “a sudden striking revelation.” Knowing God’s timing is always perfect I began to realize the next 30 days were going to be anything but ordinary. The act of walking into church for 30 minutes without anything to pray with or guide my thoughts was pretty strange at first but has become a source of peace and freedom. I love that there is nothing expected or required or prescribed. I just show up to listen and be His.
There is a prayer I began to pray in October and to be honest it was just 4 thoughts that came from different places that landed in one prayer. It actually took weeks to say those four lines and really mean them. They were a little terrifying at first but now they are as automatic as drawing breath and they are the lines I repeat several times as I quiet myself each time I sit before Jesus. The lines are “Wreck me. Break me. Change me. Draw me tight.” I don’t know where the Lord will lead me as I finish out my 30 days but he is moving and working in my heart in powerful ways. Next week I’ll share a little more about those 4 lines but this week I just wanted to encourage all of you to consider this challenge too.
We spend so much time planning what we will do, how we’ll act, what we’ll change and add but the power of the transformation of the two prisoners in the story was not “doing” but rather “letting” Jesus do the work. I heard Catholic speaker Mark Hart once say that prayer doesn’t change our relationship with Jesus, prayer IS our relationship with Jesus. I’m finding that listening, emptying and offering for 30 minutes is very powerful prayer. Maybe you’ll be like me and take a while to think it over and let it sit on your heart but if you really want to be His, this seems like a pretty great place to start.
A Seed To Plant: Prayerfully ponder this challenge. Do you want to be transformed?
Blessings on your day!
Your light must shine before others that they may see the good that you do and give glory to God. Matthew 5:16
Have you ever been in the dark…I mean REALLY dark…the kind of dark where you can’t even see the hand in front of your face? That’s certainly not a place I like to be! My older brother used to think it was hilarious to walk by my room and flip off the lights leaving me in the dark. I always hated that, which is probably why he did it so often! That darkness always caught me by surprise and the instant absence of light made me feel a second of panic.
We were all created in the Image and Likeness of God, which means His light, is a part of each of us. It was a gift given free of charge just for being created by a loving Father. Our end of the deal is to share that light with others. This crazy world we live in has no shortage of dark places, people and situations. I don’t’ think we can wish them or even pray them all away but we sure can let our light shine on them.
What does your light look like? Maybe you’ve never really even given it much thought. Well, there’s no time like the present to tumble that thought around in your head for a while. Maybe your light is the gift of patience, understanding or compassion. Maybe you’re that person who can offer wise counsel, prayer or laughter. You might even be that person who can fix something, cook something or help arrange and organize something. Sometimes our light dispels someone else’s darkness and we don’t even realize it. If you aren’t sure what your gifts are, ask those close to you. God makes no mistakes when He arranges our days and the people that cross our path. We have dozens of chances to share our light every day. It could be through a polite gesture like holding open a door or by listening intently as people speak to us. Even something as simple as a warm smile can shine light into someone’s dark day.
God made each of us to be something wonderful. We are the ones who settle for mediocrity and keep our light hidden from those who might need it. We get one pass through this earthly life and it should be our mission to leave a bright mark! Some days I feel like my older brother turned off the lights and I’d like to scream, “Hey, we need a little more light please!” Perhaps, if enough of us woke up every day with a desire to live these words from St. Matthew, it might get so bright everyone could see their way to Christ.
A seed to plant: Make a list of your gifts…ask for help if you need to. Pick one or two things from your list and decide to use that gift to shine your light into someone else’s darkness
Blessings on your day!
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17
Happy New Year! For the past several years I have written my first post of the year about my “word for the year” but the Holy Spirit has led me in a different direction this year. The past couple months have been weeks of quiet thinking and pondering. Instead of a word, I was led to some questions. The questions many days have left me silent and I think that’s exactly what the purpose was. A new year is usually filled with lists and plans and desires and I usually used my “word” to craft the me I was hoping to become. The questions are inviting me deeper, they are inviting me to lighten the grip I have on things that make me comfortable and they are inviting me to trust and love in bigger ways than I know how. Maybe some of the questions will help you see where God is calling you to walk a little closer with Him this year too.
*Who is Jesus? It’s two very different things to know about Jesus and to truly KNOW Jesus. To truly know Jesus we have to change our lives. What is he asking me to change? I can’t claim to know and love and follow him and be stuck in habits, attitudes and thoughts that are not His.
*Do I love Him enough to invite Him to change everything in my life if it’s keeping me at a distance from Him? Do I have the courage to say “Wreck me Lord?” Do I really trust Him enough to go all in, hands up surrendered and willing to let Him break away all of the parts of me that keep me from Him?
*Do I give Him the “first fruits” of my day without exception? Is His opinion of me the one that matters most?
*Do I realize He’s asking me to be completely dependent? He’s asking me to give him my will, my way and my time. In our dependence we rest in Him, find peace and learn to trust.
*Do I realize that trust is the antidote to fear and worry…courage is not. How quickly do I turn to Jesus with a heart full of trust?
*Do I try to fix things or trust in God’s response to the things I offer Him in prayer?
Those are some of the questions that have come to my heart the last several weeks. There aren’t quick fixes or easy solutions to any of them but they all require a prayerful, quiet pondering and they will all lead to change…which I suppose is the whole point. As we begin this new year, what is the Father asking you?
A Seed To Plant: Spend some quiet time with these questions and see if the Lord might be inviting you to sit and pray with one or two.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com