God heeds your soul’s cries, do you?

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplication…I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I hope…with God there is great power to redeem.

Psalm 130:1,2,5-7

I know I’m late to the party, but I just saw The Dark Knight Rises a few days ago. Bruce Wayne, aka Batman, finds himself in a hellhole of a prison, it’s dark and ugly. Being kept barely alive was the torment inflicted on the prisoners, death would be a welcome release.

Surprisingly, the other instrument of torture was hope.

A beam of light, traveling 500 feet down a narrow shaft, penetrated the darkness and despair of the captives, teasing them with hints of life and freedom; unassailable and impossible to acquire. Yet rumors were whispered that someone had climbed up the shaft and escaped into the light. Hope constantly dangling in front of them, without power to realize it, was the harder, more devastating torment, it killed the soul.

The blind man spoke wisdom to Wayne, “You can escape; but to do so, your escape must not be motivated by despairing of life (‘I don’t care if I die, I need to escape or end it’), but by fear of death – knowing that if you remain in this limbo, an unending torturous life of death will be yours. Your escape must be born of the desire to escape this death. And you must attempt the escape with no rope tied around your waist, no second guessing, no backdoor. Let your fear of dying push you to great courage and strength. You must own the piece of your soul that wants to live and want it so desperately that you’ll take a huge risk to realize it.”

Such are the depths from which our souls cry to God, places where we feel as if we’re barely hanging on, where despair, lethargy or indifference takes over and we settle into survival mode. We see the promise of a life of freedom and peace, we hear God’s invitation to come and live in the light, yet it seems out of reach or too hard to accomplish. Allowing ourselves to want such a life only increases our discomfort, there is such a gap between the dream and reality.

Still, there is a piece of every heart and soul that knows, with complete purity, that she was made for Life and that she needs God to energize this Life. This is the true self, the self made in God’s image, the self that knows she needs salvation and God alone can satisfy this existential need. No darkness can extinguish this light, it is God’s eternal flame burning within, not letting her settle for a living death.

This voice cries out to God for release, she will not be silenced. She will not settle for a living death, a life that goes through the motions without joy and freedom. She cries out, looking toward the light, continuing to hope. God has promised life and freedom and has the power to grant her release.

My friend, heed her cries, just as God does. Let yourself want Life, this is the first step of ascending into freedom.

Oh God, You pay attention to my soul’s persistent cries. Your light penetrates my darkness and ignites my hope – I was created for Life. You have not abandoned me to mere survival. You are the source of my freedom. Sometimes, though, it hurts to hope. Yet hoping gives me energy to remember you and honor the true me, the me that will not settle for less than all of you. Amen.

 

Are you living in the year of the Lord’s favor?

God's favor is yours everyday

Dear Elle,

The Sabbath we’ve been discussing, described in Luke 4, gave Jesus the opportunity to announce who he was and why he had come into the world. When handed the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, he unrolled it and searched for the very words that would explain his purpose and his mission. In Isaiah there are plenty of passages that show the Lord as judging, angry or punishing. Jesus did not choose one these passages to reveal God’s heart toward the world. The closing phrase of Jesus’ mission statement captures God’s intention, “I came to announce the year of the Lord’s favor.” The year of the Lord’s favor, not the year of the Lord’s displeasure; favor, as in honor, acceptance, approval. Having made this announcement he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down.

End of story. Or should I say beginning of story?

You can begin your day with the expectation of God’s favor going before you preparing the way. Every meeting you enter, every conversation you have, every errand you run, all brim-full with the goodness of God for you. Live in this truth and your attitude toward all that fills your day will be different. Your eyes will be opened to see God’s activity all around you.

In a football game I recently watched the quarterback got sacked, injuring the shoulder of his throwing arm. The commentators kept referring to the way he “favored his right arm” as evidence of the pain the injury caused him. To favor an injured body part means to treat it gently, to not put your full weight on it, to recognize it needs special attention in order to return to full capacity. God’s favor offers you such treatment. God knows you are injured, have been wounded, need to be protected from further harm and damage and has given you the power of the resurrected Jesus Christ to guard and to allow healing for your wounded soul and body.

I’ll talk more about living in the year of the Lord’s favor next time, but until then…

With you in the journey,

Debby