Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5
Every now and again I run across something that just doesn’t seem to belong or have relevance anymore. I was cleaning closets recently and found an old rotary dial phone with a long spiral cord. I also have a potato slicer and French fry cutter that belonged to my Grandma Thelma. She used it in her kitchen when I was little girl. Both of those items have been replaced with more modern, convenient, efficient updated models so the old ones are cast aside as if they are no longer useful. There is a key word in this scripture passage from St. Matthew’s gospel that might seem as irrelevant as those old treasures hiding in my closet. That word is meek.
We strive to be strong and successful. We pray for the grace of patience, perseverance and wisdom. We admire people who are confident, powerful leaders with vision. To tell others our goal is to grow in meekness would be a little like seeing a rotary dial phone in a Verizon store! To be honest, when I came across the word meek the other day I decided to give it a look and some prayer. I think I need to change my opinion about that word. I think it’s a word we might all be able to relate to better than we thought and I’m certain it’s something we could use more of.
Long ago in biblical times the quality of meekness was highly respected and aspired to. We tend to view it as weak, timid or passive but that was not the message Jesus was teaching when he shared the Sermon on the Mount. Meekness in its true meaning is the opposite of those things. Being meek doesn’t mean you are weak and have to take everything like a door mat, it means an active and deliberate acceptance of undesirable circumstances that are part of a bigger picture we can’t see. Being meek doesn’t mean throwing in the towel, it means giving God authority to do what he wills with our life. True meekness can be measured by how closely related we are to the will of the Father. When we make that relationship first, we are content in his love and his control of our life. If we let him be in charge we realize everything happens for a purpose and we trust in his plan. If we are more centered on ourselves and our comforts and our pride we tend to fuss and complain and point out all the things that don’t go our way. If we are low on meekness we tend to see the world through the lens of poor me instead of God’s got it all figured out!
If someone rich in meekness is treated unfairly or wrongly it doesn’t mean that doesn’t sting, but vengeance or revenge isn’t part of their reaction. Their first reaction is to pray for the person who has wronged them and give the rest to God. A meek soul realizes that God is the source of justice and that all situations contain lessons. Sometimes the lesson is for us and sometimes the lesson is for somebody else and taught through us. In order to grow in meekness, we have to admit regularly that we are not equal with God. Through our great dependence on Him we grow and we trust and we think WAY more about him than about ourselves. I suppose meekness is a bit like realizing we truly need to settle into second place and stop trying so hard to be in charge, on top and number one. I don’t know about you but I have a lot of meekness building to do!
A Seed To Plant: What are some of the areas in your life that could use a little more meekness? Spend some prayer time this week with this old word with a great and misunderstood meaning.
Blessings on your day!
“I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me.” Proverbs 8:17
The day was so beautiful it caught me by surprise. I was driving to Indianapolis to pick up my girlie and about thirty minutes into the drive I had this overwhelming feeling of peace and gratitude. The weather was perfect. Blue sky, no humidity, bright sun and 75 degrees. The day couldn’t have been more perfect. In the quiet of my drive I realized that I had no impending deadlines, no yucky task that was pressing on my time and nowhere else I’d rather be at the moment. I couldn’t help but smile; one of those really deep smiles that comes from somewhere down around your knee caps! I just started to pray in gratitude for all the things that made it a perfect day.
As I was soaking it all in, my mind wandered to all those I love who are suffering. Families with sick loved ones and families facing tough decisions and folks knee deep in grief and struggle. I prayed for them one by one as they popped into my mind and wished they could be with me, enjoying the perfect day I was right in the middle of. The emotion of their pain and struggle washed over me and I felt it in my heart but after praying for each one, my mind and my heart went back to the perfect day God had laid out for me.
After another hundred miles I said out loud in my car, “Man I wish every day could be like this!” I smiled and drove on for a while and then it hit me. If every day was like this one, I wouldn’t be struck by the peace and I wouldn’t notice the perfection of such an ordinary day. Nothing was spectacular about the day. I hadn’t won anything, I didn’t have more money than I had the day before and the world was still full of pockets of ugly but the day was a gift. As I kept driving I realized that the purpose of days like this was to fill my soul with the grace, love, presence and tenderness of My Father for days that weren’t like this one.
I soaked it all up and in my mind I bottled it up to put away like a treasure in my heart and the next time the day isn’t so lovely or easy or perfect I’ll remember this day and know that more will come. I’ll remember what it felt like and what a gift it was and know it can’t last forever but then again neither can the yucky days. I’m grateful for the day and I’m curious about how many others there have been along the way that I missed. Mostly I just thanked him for the glory of a perfect ordinary day!
A Seed To Plant: Think about a day that was a perfect ordinary day and ask God to help you put that memory like a treasure in your heart to save for a day you need it.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8
I was walking through the living room with a load of laundry the other night and paused to see a hunting show Dave was watching. A small group of men were following a guide through brush and up inclines and through tall grass in pursuit of some kind of wild game. The guide led the way whacking out a path with a machete. All along the way the guide was pointing out the dangers and beauty of the trip and it really made me stop and think. The men following the guide had no idea where they were or where they were headed. They were unfamiliar with the path and had only a mental vision of the destination. They were fully dependent on the guide to lead them to the bounty or prize of the day.
I couldn’t get that show out of my mind for several days. All I could keep thinking about was how dreadful the whole adventure seemed to me. As the guide pointed out snakes and bee hives the size of Volkswagens and loose gravel near cliff edges I know for certain I would have turned around within the first few hundred yards and gone back to the camp to drink coffee.
On my next pass through the living room I noticed that the guide had indeed led the hunters to a beautiful clearing with a breathtaking view and exactly the game they had been in search of. After an adventurous hike filled with peaks, valleys, danger, delight and blind faith, they got exactly what they were hoping for. I walked out of the living thinking there was probably a lesson.
I have been blessed to share a rough journey with a few friends this summer. Each of these beautiful, strong women has faced fierce battles of different kinds. I’ve laughed, cried and prayed with and for these friends as they picked themselves up and trudged on after each setback. I’ve been inspired by their courage and faith and then it dawned on me; their lives were a little like the hunting show Dave was watching. Isn’t life like that sometimes; tough, dangerous and tricky to maneuver. The wrong turn can lead to more difficulty and forging off in an unknown direction without a guide would certainly not end well.
God is an awful lot like that hunting guide. He’s always ahead clearing a path and offering direction and warning. Even in the thick of it all, the only thing he asks is that we stay close and follow his lead so he can guide and protect us on our way to a destination far more beautiful than we could ever imagine. Just like the guide on the TV show, nobody was forced to follow but it sure made sense to do so. I had to ask myself what kind of follower I am. As I think back on that show, I see so many places in my life where I felt like I was stuck in thick brush and he led me through it every time and led me to a place greater than I had imagined. I suppose the next time I get stuck I’ll remember this image of God as my guide and trust and follow a little more easily.
A Seed To Plant: Are there some adventures going on in your life that you need to invite God to lead you through?
Blessings on your day!
Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14
Wait is not my favorite word! I’m more of a GO kind of girl rather than a WAIT kind of girl! I saw a great quote the other day that said “Our willingness to wait reveals the value we place on the object we’re waiting for.” It made me stop a while and think about my posture and attitude while waiting, needless to say, I didn’t really like what I discovered about myself.
The quote caused me to stop and figure out what I was waiting for. As I began to make my list, I realized some of the things were pretty silly. When I thought about how much I actually valued some of the things on my list I understood why waiting is hard. Most of the things on my list weren’t important enough to wait for or really even wish for so I crossed all those off the list. When it boiled down to the bottom of the pot here’s what I learned; the only thing on my list really worth waiting patiently, courageously and stoutheartedly for…is meeting Jesus. Most of the stuff on my list, like Godly spouses and happy marriages for my children or fun, peaceful retirement will just come in Gods own time, but Heaven…that’s the one I need to focus on. I suppose if my focus is really truly there every day, everything else will be just as God desires…in his time…for his purpose and in his ultimate perfection. As I came to this conclusion my peace was interrupted by panic when I thought; what if God doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for? Then my heart answered my mind as only God can instruct it to and I heard; if he doesn’t give me what I’m waiting for, that means he’s got something better…just wait and see!
Here’s another thought I have about waiting, it isn’t work. It doesn’t require great effort like scrubbing the porch or organizing the office files or sorting the junk drawer. (All silly things I’ve been waiting for…I told you there was some silly stuff on my list!) If we truly live the words of this verse from Psalm 27 our lives will get instantly calmer, more peaceful and much easier. I’d like to end this post with a passage from Jim Beckman’s book God Help Me, “Think of the image of a sailboat. The boat doesn’t do anything burdensome to respond to the wind in its sails – it simply moves forward propelled by the wind. The sailboat responds by moving forward, but it is the wind that is carrying it.” What are you waiting for? If it is something of great value than be still and know God will provide the wind to move your sailboat! I’m thinking it just might be the perfect time to wish for a sailboat instead of a speedboat!
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things you’re waiting for. (Silly ones too!) Tuck it away for a day or two. When you get it back out, ask God to give you eyes to see his plan and his timing as you evaluate each item on your list and think about its value.
Blessings on your day!
And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart. Luke 2:19
I have a suspicion that there are some things in the world that are universal. I suspect we all wish the work week had two days and the weekend had five. I suspect we all enjoy the beauty of the sunrise and sunset and I suspect we all have a junk drawer somewhere in our house! I love having a place to stick all that stuff I might need later or don’t have any idea what to do with. When I shove stuff in there I secretly pray I’ll be able to quickly find that one thing buried in there when I need it. Of course I realize how embarrassed I’d be if anybody actually looked in my junk drawer.
As I read this passage from Luke’s Gospel I thought about the things Mary had in her heart to reflect on; it was big stuff for sure! I love how Luke used the word reflect instead of worry, plan, manage or fix . As I sat down to pray, I asked God to help me ponder and reflect on the things in my own heart. It didn’t take me long to realize my heart was a little like my kitchen junk drawer! It was full of a bunch of clunky stuff I probably didn’t need, wouldn’t really find very helpful and of course a bunch of stuff that didn’t really match anything. In all honesty, my heart was cluttered with of a bunch of junk I just keep there because it’s easier to shove it in than take the time and effort to truly sort it all out.
As I reflected on my heart, I’m afraid to say there was as much gunk and clunk there as I found in my drawer. I discovered some jealousy and some impatience and some judgement. For several days I carried this junky heart thinking around and God showed me so many things that needed to be tossed out. I realized I was hauling around memories and thoughts and silly wishes that were taking up space he wanted to fill with better stuff. I came to realize there was stuff in my heart that had about as much value as the random junk in my drawer. I’m pretty sure that lonely hot wheels tire and broken diaper pin has about as much usefulness as some of the feelings I’m guarding in the secret corners of my heart. I’m absolutely certain those junky things are not the kinds of things he’s encouraging me to ponder.
The thing about reflecting is that it’s a passive activity. Mary realized she could only reflect and trust. She wasn’t forming her action plan or trying to figure out how to get God to change the plan. She was confident that in all of her thoughts and situations he was going to be there. I ponder the fixes and the action instead of reflecting on all the ways God is going to show up and use every situation for good. I realized that my reflection is always “me” centered; what am I going to do, and this simple line from Luke’s Gospel reminded me in a powerful way that I’m completely missing the point. Reflecting on the stuff in my heart pointed me to the fact that I need to do some dumping, sorting and re-organizing. I have to dump it all out and let go of the junk that’s taking up valuable space…space that was designed for things so much more important. In the dumping and purging, the thing I will make room for is him and his mighty works. Just like the “treasures” in my junk drawer that I’m saving in case I need them, chances are, I truly don’t! Dumping out that drawer to sort and clean is going to seem overwhelming and make my kitchen look like a giant mess before it gets better. But I know the result will be fresh, tidy and open…that’s the kind of drawer I’m after and that’s the kind of heart God’s looking for.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to clean out the junk! Take a prayerful look at what’s in your heart and then pick a drawer, closet or spot to sort and organize while you pray. The two tasks added together are a pretty powerful way to do some reflecting!
Blessings on your day!
Let them grow together until the harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them into bundles for burning but gather the wheat into my barn.” Matthew 13:30
The parable of the wheat and the weeds from Matthews Gospel has so many lessons! But my mind is glued right to one part. When my mind gets stuck on one little piece of scripture like that it’s usually a pretty good sign that I’m supposed to work on something! The part that really socked me was how the land owner told the servants to be patient. What?…the enemy just wrecked his whole wheat field by scattering weeds and he said nothing of revenge or justice or retribution. He didn’t ride his donkey into town and tell everybody who would listen about the awful thing someone had done to him. He didn’t go all 007 and try to track down the bad guys, he just said be patient, we’ll sort it all out later. Wow…what a lesson! We are pretty good at recognizing the hand of God in our lives and thanking him for our blessings but how good are we at letting him be in charge of justice? We are a society that likes to “right the wrongs” when they happen to us.
Sr. Mary MacKillop was an Australian nun who was a brilliant teacher. She had an infectiously joyful disposition and those around her thrived because of her love, holiness and honesty. One of my favorite stories is about how she truly imitated the land owner in this parable. Sr. Mary’s classrooms swelled and the students achieved brilliantly because of her enthusiasm and encouragement. There were so many new students that another room was added to the school and a crabby old priest was summoned to teach the other class of students. Orders were given for an achievement test to be administered to all students to determine the worth of the teachers in the diocese. After the tests were collected, Sr. Mary’s students’ scores were amazing. As you might expect the scores from the other class were not. Before the tests were sealed and mailed to the bishop, the old priest switched the teacher’s names receiving full credit for the splendid scores. Poor Sr. Mary was sent off to a dreadful assignment in the outback. The other sisters encouraged Sr. Mary to tell the bishop what had happened but she refused and told them they were not to say anything either. She believed that she had done what God had asked her to do and justice was not hers to serve, that was God’s business. She refused to speak about it stating that she had absolutely no doubts that God would see to things in his way and in his time but in the meantime she would use it as a splendid opportunity to grow in humility.
Go Sr. Mary! I know for a fact I have a long way to go if I ever want to measure up to her standard of trust in God’s judgment. I suppose I should begin with the person who drives like a nut in traffic and cuts me off. Or, I could start with the impatient person who snatches the parking spot I’ve patiently waited for and “claimed” with my blinker. I’m willing to bet that I won’t have to look very hard to find several places in my daily life that I could be more like the land owner and his field. I can think of several folks who could use a little more patience from me. Who knows, if I was a little more patient instead of running around yanking out the weeds of “injustice” I might discover things are a whole lot easier to sort out than I thought. I guess I need to worry less about who put the weeds in my wheat and worry more about being patient and letting someone wiser and more loving than me sort things out.
A Seed To Plant: Take some time this week to read the whole parable from Matthew 13:24-30. Sit still for a few minutes and identify some of the weeds in your wheat. How and where can you demonstrate the patience of the land owner?
Blessings on your day!
She is clothed in strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25
How many readers think this verse from Proverbs is talking about them? This past week I crossed paths with a few folks who seemed to be consumed with fear and worry about the future. I can tell you that they were not laughing at the days to come and I struggled to help them move from worry to peaceful faith. As I thought and prayed about these conversations I found this verse and it made me smile.
Have you ever stopped to think about what makes one person worry and another one not worry at all? Some of us look to the future and smile; others look the same direction and feel a pang of worry, dread and maybe even fear. Some might say worrying is just a part of your hard-wiring but I suppose we all carry a little bit of worry with us most days. I read once that there is a big difference between worry and concern. Being concerned about something inspires us to organize, call on resources and to handle things as best we can and leave the rest to God. Worry is more like doing everything possible and still fretting about God being able to do the rest according to your plan.
When the boys were little they had some plastic toy swords and the movie Peter Pan. They would have sword fights anywhere; the barn, kitchen, and yard you name it they would imagine a scene and play like crazy. Surprisingly, there were no casualties until the night they snuck the swords under the covers. The fight that night was a small disaster leaving two little boys with some red marks, a black eye and a giant scrape to the belly. When the dust settled and we were trying to sort it all out, the problem boiled down to the darkness. In the light, they could see and anticipate what was coming but in the darkness of their bedroom they couldn’t anticipate and react to what they couldn’t see coming. They lost their guide and their protection.
The Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh at days to come is one who doesn’t sit in the darkness of worry. Why? What makes her so immune to the worries and woes of the day? I think the answer to that question comes in the first part of the verse; strength and dignity. The really important part of the puzzle though is the realization that the strength and dignity come from God not from the world or within. When we think of strength, we typically think of muscles and physical power which requires work to attain. When we talk about strength from God the opposite is true. In order to be powered by the strength of God we have to do nothing but rest in him and know he will do all the heavy lifting! Gods strength sees all the obstacles and shifts in the path, he simply asks that we let him love us enough to maneuver us through them. If we can’t rely on God’s strength it’s kind of like having a sword fight in the dark; there is no way to anticipate and react to what we can’t see coming.
Laughing at the future doesn’t mean we see what’s coming; it means we are strong enough to face it because we know God will defend, protect and love us through whatever comes our way. He loves us too much to put us in a situation that is beyond what we need. Yes, sometimes we need struggle and difficulty but he knows how much and for what reason. We need to work on laughing at the days to come because when it all boils down to the bottom of the pot, it’s kind of funny that we should worry about something God has already orchestrated right down to the most teeny tiny detail.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of the things that worry you. Ask God to bring you strength this week as you pray daily for him to transform your worry to peace.
Blessings on your day!
The Lord is faithful…2 Thessalonians 3:3
God is so fancy! I’m typing from the Boise airport looking out at the gorgeous mountains. They fascinate me; I guess that is to be expected from a Kansas girl! I’m enjoying this amazing backdrop before I hop a flight and head home. This amazing view is like the exclamation point to end a fabulous weekend spent with the Diocese of Boise Deacons and their wives.
This weekend I met some amazing disciples! I was touched right to my soul with their honesty, their dedication and their openness. I heard these beautiful servants tell stories of their passion for the homeless, the sick, the broken and the joyful. I was inspired by their selflessness and their humility. God invited me here this weekend to give, but my eyes are leaking as I reflect back on all I received from these incredible people! The plane will carry my bags, but my heart will carry the truly precious cargo.
As I head home my heart carries HOPE! My heart carries JOY! My heart carries FAITH! All of these things were gifts from the weekend. It’s so easy to hear the bad news, especially about the church and christianity. True disciples live their lives in such opposition to our culture and I spent a few days with a group of people who have made it their mission to carry on the work of Christ despite what the world might think or say! I spent the weekend surrounded by people who scream to the world through their actions, all that is right with the church. Their mission is to love and serve and to lead and they left my heart FULL!
Their joy and faithfulness reminded me that the doubters, the scandals, the disappointments will always swirl around our feet but they always have and Jesus’ instructions still stick. Enter a place in peace, share the truth with love and shake the dust and move along if you encounter opposition. As disciples we are asked to share the Good News, plant seeds and invite. If we do those things in absolute humility we can rest assured that we have done all the Father is asking.
The funny thing about hope is there are times it may seem to run in short supply but if our eyes and hearts are open, there are so many opportunities to have it restored. It can be easy to get stuck in hopelessness but there are people and events everyday that can fill your hope right back up to full if you’re looking. It’s a little like that Mr. Rogers quote; always look for the helpers. I was reminded this weekend that helpers don’t all wear uniforms and arrive with flashing lights. Sometimes it’s a group of deacons and wives who have dedicated their life to serve the Lord because they know he’s done good things in their life and they simply want to share his love and his hope with those who need it…without counting the cost, the time or the energy. I’m so thankful for them!
A Seed To Plant: This is a double! Be on the lookout for a person or event big or small that restores hope. Second, do something for another person this week that restores hope.
Blessings on your day!
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