Joyful Words Blog
Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.
– Psalm 119:105
– Psalm 119:105
…“You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep.’…Matthew 28:12
During the weeks since Easter I have been spending some time reading the story. As I was reading in the last chapter of Matthew’s gospel I got to verse 11 and wanted to yell, “Liar, Liar pants on fire!” It’s hard to believe the enemies of Jesus even tried to lie about something as astounding and beautiful as the resurrection. As I continued to read all I could think was; Wow…talk about an action packed story! This short Gospel has it all, epic drama, suspense, grief, jubilation, surprise, deceit, bribery and a splendid victorious hero! It’s a story of loyalty, love, dishonesty and the ultimate triumph of truth! Truth is a beautiful thing and we serve the God of truth.
Growing up the thing my dad held in highest regard was telling the truth, he considered truthfulness to be the most accurate mirror of a person’s character. He would often tell my brothers and me that one lie always ties itself to another and before long you could find yourself lying when the truth world fit better. That’s exactly what happened to the chief priests. How could anybody believe a small group of sorrowful and brokenhearted men appeared in the dark, rolled away an enormous stone and snuck off with Jesus’ body all without waking the team of soldiers assigned to guard the tomb? As Christians we know the truth fits better!
Sometimes Christ speaks truth to us and in our hearts we can be a little like the chief priests. Sometimes God’s truth is tough, especially when living it requires difficult change. The laws and truths of our faith are clear and often difficult to follow and we try to wriggle our way around them. Thank goodness we are loved by an Amazing Father who says to us, just as he said to the Mary’s in the garden that morning, “Do not be afraid.” He wants to lead us lovingly to his truth…his whole truth which offers the promise of eternal salvation.
A Seed To Plant: What are some truths you are struggling with? The Mary’s in this Gospel were fearful and overjoyed. In prayer today, ask God to guide you through the fear and lead you to the great joy and freedom found only through living completely in his truth.
Blessings on your day!
I have some dear friends going through some tough times right now and this old post just jumped out at me so I thought I'd post it again because St. James always tells the truth!
Consider it all joy, my brothers when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
Consider trials JOY? What was St. James thinking when he wrote this? Upon first glance at this verse we might be tempted to wonder if the beloved Saint put in a few too many prayerful “all-nighters” because surely he wasn’t serious about feeling joyful when the washer breaks, someone you love gets sick, the fuel pump on the car goes out or the sweet teenager in your home eats the last piece of peach pie you were hiding…I mean saving, in the back of the fridge! Joy…I don’t think so! And what about the really big stuff like losing your job or serious illness, surely, he couldn’t have meant those things could bring joy. I suppose we could sit down and make a list of all the trials that have happened upon us in the past month and we would be overcome with many emotions, none of which would be joy!
The real meat of this verse is the part that explains what we can get in exchange for our trials…stronger faith and perseverance. Do you remember when you were young and you went home from school and complained about that boy who pulled your pigtails or the girl who annoyingly pointed out your every move to the teacher? The standard reply from home went something like this, “Well honey, if they didn’t like you they wouldn’t tease you.” This verse has a little bit of that flavor to it don’t ya think! God promised that we would have trouble…it is a guarantee, not a possibility. Even though we’ve read those words more than once, trials still seem to catch us by surprise. We sometimes even cop an attitude and think, “What, me…why me Lord? What have I done to deserve this difficulty?” We might even get really sassy and say, “Oh, pardon me Father, but you’ve made a mistake, I’ve already had 8 serious trials this month, I believe this current dilemma belongs to the neighbor or even better, the guy who cut me off in traffic this morning!”
The simple truth is, if He didn’t love us, He wouldn’t give us trials at all. Each difficulty or disappointment that knocks on our front door or barges right into our day is an opportunity to grow in trust or compassion or patience. When we throw up our hands in despair and say, “Ok God, I don’t know how to do this…I don’t think I’m strong enough for this, please guide me and guard me and love me through it!” we will grow in faith and perseverance plus we will be blessed with grace and mercy. I think what St. James was teaching us is that any time we surrender to the holy power of God, that’s joyful, and the blessing is more strength, more grace and more faith for the next thing! It seems strange to thank God for the lousy stuff but that is what we are called to do. We need to act like we are completely aware that He is about to do a might work through that trial if we would just stand back and let Him take us through it.
A Seed To Plant: The next time a trial comes your way, stop and thank God for it and ask Him to show you the joy in the situation. We’d love to hear your stories!
Blessings on your day!
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. Isaiah 55:8
Happy Easter! As we revel in the amazement of Easter Sunday this verse from the Prophet Isaiah speaks great truth! None of us could have planned the events of Holy Week…but God could. I realize the truth in this verse when my thoughts ramble off into the back 40 during prayer and the things I’m thinking are definitely not His thoughts and sometimes, my ways are so NOT His ways! Why do we do that…when we know we shouldn’t speak words to others we wouldn’t speak directly to Him and we know His way and His plan trump ours EVERY time? Yet we keep runnin around sayin stuff we shouldn’t say and doin stuff that our stubborn nature tells us is easier! I guess it all leads me back to the truth…I’m just a big ole sinner who needs the love and mercy of a Gracious God because I sure can’t get it right without Him! Maybe that’s the whole point!
Not long ago I heard a priest teach a simple prayer during his homily. Here it is, “Thank You God, Your will be done!” Even I can remember that one! Seems simple and easy and makes sense...until you begin to think about when you should say it! It’s going to be easy to say that little prayer when I get a good parking spot, or when something good happens. The tricky part is when the yucky stuff happens. Fr. Gordon used the examples, when you loose your keys in the snow, “Thank you God, Your will be done.” Or when you loose your cell phone, “Thank you God, Your will be done…now I have more time to talk to You.” Seven little words that can change everything! I think we can get so busy we forget to have that ongoing dialogue with Our Father, maybe lost keys and slow traffic and broken mower belts really are a tiny nudge inviting us to speak with Him.
Disappointments are a great place to plug in this prayer! When things don’t go the way we plan, we can get pretty down. I remember not getting a teaching job I wanted so badly! I prayed, I researched, I practiced interviewing I did everything to prepare yet despite my best efforts, the interview committee picked someone else! I was so disappointed! I called my mom in tears and she listened to me blubber on and on and when I was finished, she softly said, “It wasn’t your job to get!” I remembered that conversation clear as a bell in church as Fr. Gordon was talking about that very simple little prayer and on the drive home, Isaiah’s words chimed in and I was overwhelmed with the power of God’s plan. It hit me that if I had gotten that teaching job, I would not have gone to K-State, I would not have found out about the job opening with the State Department of Education in Michigan, I would not have moved here, met and married Dave Wohlfert, had three wonderful children and my life would NOT be any of the terrific things it is right now! Thank you God, Your will be done! And it was done…with amazing attention to detail I might add! It’s surprising what seven little words can stir up!
God always knows what He’s doing. We have to thank Him especially when things don’t go our way. I don’t know about you but sometimes I forget that part. The harder something is, the bigger our thank you should be! He blesses us through good and happy things and He blesses us BIGGER through the difficult, disappointing and heartbreaking! We tend to see what’s good for us; He sees what’s good for ALL of His children. We have to remember we aren’t the only ones He has to care for. Our disappointment is most likely someone else’s blessing…we can stamp our feet like a spoiled impatient toddler or we can use that time for some of the greatest prayer and fortifying ever. He doesn’t withhold things to make us squirm, He waits for the perfect time and the perfect place and the perfect peace…all He asks is that we thank Him and ask Him to show us His way while we wait on His perfect timing. His ways, His words…yeah, it makes sense since we are His children!
A seed to plant: Write this little prayer down and stick it somewhere so you’ll remember to pray it often. Thank you God, Your will be done!
Blessings on your day!
Christ became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Philippians 2:8
Happy Holy Week! This is the most powerful week in the life of a Christian. It’s a week to pause, ponder and pray. I’d like everyone reading this post to take some time to stop in their tracks and soak in the beauty, sorrow, sacrifice and magnificence of this week. Imagine for a few minutes what it would be like if Holy Week were made into a motion picture; I know Mel Gibson kind of already did that but think of it in your own mind and your first task is to cast yourself in one of the roles. I’m going to assume none of us would cast ourselves in the role of Jesus, so I’ve listed some of the other characters for you to select from. So…climb up in the director’s chair and see where you fit best.
John – beloved, loyal friend…the only Apostle to travel to Calvary and weep at the feet of the crucified Christ…generous even to the point of taking the mother of Christ into his home; must be fearless enough to walk beside Jesus as he carries his cross and tender enough to comfort and console His mother in her unspeakable grief and agony.
Peter – strong, faithful follower…until put to the test…must be willing to seek with all your heart the forgiveness and mercy of the loving Jesus after you deny him not once but three times.
Apostles – must be willing to abandon all of your possessions to follow a man named Jesus who you don’t always understand…must make a commitment to tell His story with enormous passion for the rest of your days…must be able to live with the guilt of falling asleep and running away to hide during the very hours your love, prayers and support are needed most.
Judas – must have serious issues with priorities and loyalties…demonstrate in living color how wealth and power can blind good judgment and destroy truth.
Simon of Cyrene - strong, compassionate and helpful spirit…must be willing to help another of God’s children with absolutely no regard to personal cost or gain.
Veronica – courageous, tender and loving, yet brave in the face of tremendous personal danger…must be willing to act spontaneously with unsurmountable compassion being your only motive.
Mary – unfathomable obedience and absolute reliance on the strength of God the Father…complete surrender of every joy and every sorrow…flawless, sinless and utterly selfless even to the point of unthinkable personal grief and torment inflicted on a mothers heart.
Pontius Pilate - curious, conflicted and controlled by circumstances of politics and position…must feel deeply but lack the confidence and security to properly act on your beliefs.
Claudia – (wife of Pilate) must be open to the promptings and stirrings of God in your life and possess the personal confidence and conviction to share those stirrings and promptings without reservation even if others don’t respond in the manner you know is right.
Chief priests and leaders – cowardly, deceitful and dishonest…must prize authority, power and vanity over all things…must be willing to hush or squash all things that might interfere with personal security and position…must have a great ability to distort or ignore the truth in the name of personal security and achievement.
The Crowd – must be willing to go with the flow…acceptant of popular opinion and able to be swept up in the culture no matter the consequence of your actions…must be unwilling to form, voice or defend a clear sense of right, wrong, truth or justice.
So…which part fits best? If you’re like me, as you study the list you can see yourself in lots of roles…but that isn’t a positive thing. The roles I desire most seem to be the places where I give my most lack-luster performances and as much as I look hatefully upon some of the characters, I sometimes see myself in their role. This week isn’t as much a “reliving” of an event as it is a “reflection” on their power to transform us into Christians, who love more tenderly, appreciate more deeply, sacrifice more obediently and repent more wholeheartedly. It’s a week to be drawn in by the overwhelming and overpowering love of the Savior who endured all of this for US while contemplating the reality of the fact that our sins did this to Him. It’s not a regular week, it has a title for a reason, make it your mission this week to live like you know this week is different, it’s Holy!
A Seed To Plant: Make a plan right this minute for the way your actions and behaviors will make this week different. Decide what to put aside this week, what to pick up this week and include plans for reading the Gospel accounts of this week.
Blessings on your day!
Sheri's writing can also be found at Faith Catholic Publications and on CatholicMom.com