Good morning, Treat others with gentle hands today, just you would want to be treated. Honor their glory and carry their pain. Amen.
(Occasionally, I feel compelled to share with you from my personal prayer journal. This one I fearfully offer. Be gentle, you’re holding my heart.)
When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed. Matthew 8:1-3
Lord, the way this leper trusts you has always amazed me. He models detachment. He’s a leper, he desires to be made clean he knows you have the power to do so, yet, he doesn’t demand it or hold you ransom. He strikes no bargains; just lays his request before you and lets you give him what you will.
Boy, that’s hard. In theory, he’s my hero and I want to follow his example. But in reality I am attached to the outcome. I want to write useful material for your people. You could use me if you choose. I kneel before you, risking my request. Give words through me or not. Help me remain at your feet. Amen.
God, you are quick to respond. You spoke practical things I can do to remain in the trusting position for which I long. It seems God says the same thing over and again to the Israelites (and by extension me.) I guess they needed to hear it more than once. Their hard hearts needed retraining, new ways of being and believing. So does mine.
In summary, from Deuteronomy 7:
Sound familiar? Does it resonant with your experience? I’d like to hear your thoughts.
With you on the journey,
When you doubt your value, remember who created you.
God, the creative genius, who made the majesty of the redwoods, the intricate beauty of a hummingbird, the unseen wonder of a molecule, made you. And because you are God’s creation, it is okay to appreciate your own value. You are esteemed, not because you are talented, beautiful and smart. You had nothing to do with these qualities about yourself. God is the one who endowed you with them. In humility, you can “think rightly about yourself”, as St. Paul encourages. (Romans 12:3)
Most of the world agrees that Monet is a great artist. His works hang in the most prestigious museums and places of honor around the world. In 1998 one of his paintings sold for 33 million dollars! His body of work is recognized as sheer genius. And because of his abilities and his reputation, even sketches that he would have considered trash are worth a lot of money. Not necessarily because they are masterpieces, but because he is a master artist.
So it is with God. Everything God’s creative hand has formed is priceless and beyond value. You, my dog, the ocean, even the mosquito has beauty and value in the eyes of their maker. Elle, you are made by God and God calls you good. (Genesis 1:31)
When you focus on and denigrate attributes that do not come up to your standard of perfection, you are casting blame on the one who created you. Blame leads to distance in a relationship. You cannot remain in a healthy intimacy with someone you think has done something fundamentally harmful to you. Peace must be made.
As you know, my dog Molly is a pug. She is short, rather wide, has a smashed in face and not everyone would think she’s a very attractive animal. But you know what? It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because she doesn’t belong to anyone else. She’s belongs to me and I love everything about her, I think she’s adorable.
In effect, we are all God’s pugs! All that counts is God’s making and choosing us. No one else’s opinion, not even our own counts for anything. We belong to God.
With you in the journey,
The evil one subtly lures us into distrusting God by convincing us we need more. If some is good, more must be better. (Reread my last letter for a fuller discussion about this subject.) How, then, does Jesus woo us into believing in and acting from a trusting heart? By using the same motivation, desiring more, but with a different object as it’s goal.
As I said before, desires are not bad, they fuel our choices, they spark us into action and can lead us to life. It is the goal of our desires that can be deadly. Remember Satan cannot create, so he must twist a God given goodness into something harmful and hurtful.
Jesus also invites us to desire more. The more he encourages is to have more of God. We are to make choices based on our desire to trust God. This is the more he sought, it is the way of life he invites us to follow.
Every choice we see Jesus making is based on his desire to be united with the will of his Father in heaven. He made the choice to leave heaven and become poor for our sake, fulfilling the will of the triune God. He did not desire and seek after people’s good opinion. He suffered dishonor in the eyes of the world, because he desired to live out of the Father’s heart toward humankind. Jesus cast himself on the care of his Father in heaven. He trusted God for all, his daily bread, his ministry and ultimately his life and death. He humbly depended on God for everything.
St. Ignatius said it this way: choose poverty which leads to dishonor which leads to humility. Yikes. Who wants to be poor and dishonored? It is definitely an upside down world Jesus embodies.
A more contemporary way of understanding Ignatius’ insight is choosing contentment/simplicity which leads to suffering which leads to dependence. When we make choices to be content living simply, doing without certain things, we will suffer to some degree and suffering leads us to God. For example, choosing to ride your bike to work and leaving your car at home. This small but simple choice, made out of love for God’s world, reduces your carbon footprint, but increases your inconvenience. Now you must suffer the weather, the time constraints, the lack of flexibility that driving your car would allow you. You must trust God with your schedule, your safety and your social calendar.
The starting point of the evil one’s strategy is the lure of riches/more. Jesus’ way of living starts with inviting us into humility. We want humility don’t we?
Life will bring you many choices. The choice you make will be rooted in what you most desire. Your enemy will attract you toward a choice that will bring you worldly riches and honor. Jesus will attract you toward a choice that leads you to trust God more and to desire the will of they Trinity.
Every choice you make in life has these two options. Jesus would have you choose life.
With you in the journey,