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Archive for April, 2011

Every Day

I keep asking God to tell me what he wants.

When he tells me, I don’t believe him. It seems too simple. It seems too common. It seems naive.

He doesn’t ask me to struggle and deprive myself. He doesn’t ask me to suffer. He never demands anything from me. He simply waits for me to take what he has to offer. Here, in John 6:26-35, it is so straightforward:

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man[f]can give you. For God the Father has given me the seal of his approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if you want us to believe in you. What can you do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now he offers you the true bread from heaven. 33 The true bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

My only work is to believe. That’s it. Anything that stops me from believing leaves me hungry, thirsty and tired. All I need, every day, is to be in the presence of God through Jesus. Spending time in communion with him is like being with my best friend on a perfect day. So why don’t I just stay in that space, communing with the Lord?

Yet, even the Israelites balked when manna rained down from heaven. Even the disciples, who literally sat with Jesus every day, didn’t really get what he meant by “bread from heaven.” Knowing this, I feel a little better when I stumble on this well-worn path.

Lord, give us this day our daily bread. Nothing more. Nothing less. We’ll be back for more tomorrow.

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Spirit Fruit

When I was in my early 20’s, my friend Jess came with me to visit my parents. Jess is the sort of person who cuts right to the chase, and so within an hour of meeting my father for the first time she asked him a very pointed question.

“Would you have done anything differently raising Sarah?” (Note that my upbringing was riddled with emotional abuse, and that my father and I fought constantly as I struggled with depression throughout my teenage years.)

“Nah,” he said without hesitation, “because then she wouldn’t be who she is now.”

Hearing that changed my entire outlook on life. Suddenly all that garbage, all those lonely, sorrow-filled days and nights had meaning. I knew at that moment that my father was a very wise man, and that he hadn’t yet told me half of his story.

I’m so grateful each time I get to learn more about where I came from, and especially when I get to tell stories of my past as a way to bring healing into someone else’s future.

Martyr and prophet Oscar Romero puts it like this:

It helps now and then to step back and take a long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts, it is beyond our vision.

We accomplish in our lifetime only a fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is God’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the kingdom always lies beyond us. No statement says all that could be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection, no pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives include everything.

This is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water the seeds already planted knowing that they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects far beyond our capabilities.

We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing this. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own.

How could I have known that when I sat up crying through sleepless nights as a young woman, that I was watering seeds that would bear the fruits of the spirit now, 20 years later? Thank God the future isn’t mine to design. If it was, I would have made things easier back then, and robbed God’s people of so much bounty.

This post was inspired by Jamie the Very Worst Missionary

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