Mine to Walk

path-795x380Scripture Passage (1 Corinthians 10: 12-13)

12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.

 

Well, this is enough to rattle anyone’s self-confidence! We like to think that if we “get there”, you know, confess our sins, profess our belief, get baptized, do what we’re supposed to do, check all the boxes of good church people, that everything will turn out alright. The problem is that it’s not a one-time thing. (Yes, I’m Methodist. Sadly, we are not “once saved, always saved”.) I mean, really, what good would that do? We just spend a little bit of time on our best behavior and then we’re “in”. I don’t think God works like that. It’s not about what we’ve done; It’s about who we are. It’s about who we’re becoming. It’s about relationship. Our faith journey is long and sometimes hard and sometimes glorious. Sometimes we get it right. Sometimes we know we get it right. Sometimes we find ourselves diving into deep and wonderful pools of clear reviving water and other times we seem to wallow in the shallow mud pits of life. Sometimes we can feel so connected to God that there is no doubt in our minds or our hearts that the Divine is right there, almost touchable, almost approachable. But we cannot rest on the laurels of our past. That’s not the way relationships work.

 

Living a life of faith really does not allow us to become complacent. It doesn’t allow us to sit back and bask in our glorious history that we bring to the table. God’s not really concerned with the fact that my grandparents were good, church-going people (at least not as far as my faith journey is concerned). It was good for them and they taught me well. But, now, it’s mine. God wants to have a relationship with ME. That’s the reason that “inherited” faith can only go so far (which means that, thanks be to God, that whole “sins of the fathers [and the mothers]” thing also only goes so far. My faith journey is mine. It is my relationship with God. It is my walk toward and with the Divine. It is mine to walk, mine to navigate, mine to mess up and get all turned around and not know where to go. It is mine to choose to stop and stay mired in what I think is the “right” way or what hymns I like to sing or what style of worship in which I like to participate. It is mine to halt at any point and sit down and bask in what I’ve done or become laden down by what I’ve neglected to do. And with God’s grace, it is mine to begin again. Oh, don’t get me wrong. We help each other along the way. Hopefully, we can give each other what we do not have. And that, too, is God’s grace.

 

This journey of Lent is sort of a microcosm of our whole faith journey. We begin where we are (wherever we are) and we look at our self and we look at our lives and we see what we really are—beloved children of God. And then we look at the ways that we’re NOT what we really are, the ways that we have allowed ourselves to overstep or overreach or overindulge or somehow become a little too full of what we imagine we can be. We look at the ways that we do not walk with God. And then God offers a hand (or someone else’s hand) and we begin to walk. And the road twists and turns and the storms come and the sun’s heat bears down on us and the winds whip around and the sand gets in our eyes. And then we see the light of the path ahead once again and we follow it, at least until we get off track again. And in those times when we feel the path beneath us, those times when we are aware of God’s presence, those times when God’s grace seems to wrap around us and hold us, we realize that the hand we hold never lost its grip on our lives. And we relax a little. We become comfortable. We might become a little complacent again. We become a little too certain that we’ve got it figured out. And then the winds begin again and the curtain tears and the darkness descends upon us. But this time, we know to wait, to wait in holy silence until the stone of our lives is rolled away so that we can begin again. That is faith. That is the journey. We don’t travel it alone but no one can do it for us.

 

Deep within us all there is an amazing sanctuary of the soul, a holy place…to which we may continuously return. Eternity is at our hearts, pressing upon our time-torn lives, warming us…calling us home unto Itself. Yielding to these persuasions…utterly and completely, to the Light within, is the beginning of true life. (Thomas R. Kelly)

 

Thank you for sharing your Lenten journey with me!

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Shelli

In the Thirst

Dry Parched GroundScripture Passage (Isaiah 55: 1-3)

Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David.

 

Thirst, real thirst, probably eludes most of us who are reading this. We have water. We just turn on the tap and, usually, it runs freely. Many of us don’t think it’s good enough water so we spend money buying high-priced spring waters (which may be from a tap anyway!) But when one is really, really thirsty, thirsty to the point of feeling dry and parched, water is the most incredible thing in the world. So, here, we read of an invitation to all those who thirst. That really sort of sounds like thirsting is a good thing. So those of us with bottled water and instant food, those of us who satisfy our longing by buying more stuff or building bigger things or wrapping ourselves in the bounds of what we do, probably struggle with the whole idea of thirsting.

 

We live in a world that dangles satisfaction and completion in front of us. We live in a world that looks for results. We live in a world that looks for solutions to things that we do not understand, to things that are difficult. And yet, nowhere in the Scriptures does God protect us from the difficulties of life by telling us to run and hide, to avoid pain, to avoid suffering, to avoid darkness or wilderness or unknowing. After all, thirsting for something more means that we are alive. Physical thirst means that we are still living and breathing and our bodies are craving what they need. And spiritual thirst is the same. We are still alive. There is still something more. And in the deepest part of our being, we know that.

 

There are those that thirst for wealth, those that thirst for stature or position. There are those that thirst for pleasure or happiness. And there are those that thirst for things to be comfortable, to be the way they want it to be, perhaps to be the way it’s “always been”. But, for most people, attaining those things really doesn’t satisfy them at all. It leaves a veritable dryness in life. Perhaps the point is that life is not in the quenching but in the thirst. Alexander Stuart Baillie once wrote that “one needs to keep on thirsting because life grows and enlarges. It has no end; it goes on and on; it becomes more beautiful. When one has done [his or her] best there is, [one] finds, still more to learn and so much to do. [One] cannot be satisfied until one attains unto the stature of Jesus, unto a perfect [human], and ever thirsts for God.” I thirst. Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. And life began.

 

 

All your love, your stretching out, your hope, your thirst, God is creating in you so that God may fill you…God is on the inside of the longing. (Maria Boulding)

 

Thank you for sharing your Lenten journey with me!

 

I know I’ve tended to be a little irregular with the postings this season. I’m sorry about that. Life continues to get in the way. Maybe it’s part of that thirsting. I will try to keep the waters flowing.

 

Grace and Peace,

 

Shelli