Friday, February 16, 2024

Breath work

When the day dawns grey and heavy, I find myself at work practicing breathing.  

Breathe in God's goodness, breathe out disappointment.
Breathe in God's mercy, breathe out despair.
Breathe in God's kindness, breathe out anxiety.
Breathe in God's truth, breathe out the lies.
Breathe in God's lovingkindness, breathe out resentment.

Is this what apprenticeship under Jesus involves?  How do I practice walking in the way of Jesus?  I know for certain he is using/will use these hard and heavy things I'm facing to train my arms for battle... but what does that daily training look like?  This is not book work.  These are not hypotheticals.  This is life.  My life.

About 2 miles from me a nurse is beginning to inject poison into the body of my oldest son.  I can't be there physically, but I'm there in spirit and I'm practicing breathing.

Breathe in God's perfect shalom, breathe out pain.
Breathe in God's faithfulness, breathe out all the brokenness.
Breathe in God's love, breathe out death.
Breathe in God's redemption, breathe out bitterness.
Breathe in God's hope, breathe out rejection.

On a day when every breath is a conscious choice, I have to be aware of every single one.  This is how the mind is renewed, one breath at a time, one choice at a time.  I have no idea how well I'm doing at this.  Just that I'm trying.

"Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out."  Ephesians 6:13-18

Friday, February 9, 2024

Say the word...

Growing up in the Catholic faith every Sunday after communion we would collectively give this response: 

"Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed."

This is in reference to Mathew 8:8: 

"The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof.  But just say the word, and my servant will be healed."'

I've been thinking of late about how this has been/is kinda my beef with God oftentimes.  "Good grief!" I'm thinking, "God, just say the word!!" (Aside from the very obvious situation at hand that I desperately want him to say the word over, there is a LONG list of others).  Knowing that the God of the universe loves me and has the power to utter one. single. word. and all things will be made right feels like a pent up scream. 

But if I take a moment to contemplate I realize, God has already said the word, and the word is Jesus. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."     John 1:1-5  

This is so intensely profound and also in my very humanness not what I want to hear. When everything is going sideways in my life I struggle with this.  I'm just like the Jews of old who missed Jesus cause he's not showing up in the ways I want him to.  I want him to say a single word and fix ________! It's one of the area's in my faith where I have to keep pressing into this truth: God has never promised, in this life, to fix all the things, he's promised himself, his presence with me... and he is enough.  

It's definitely a hard truth for me to digest (and I am continually learning it btw).  I traversed many years not understanding this pretty much at all. Railing at God in dark days that he couldn't possibly actually love me if I was being asked to walk through _______. Early on I totally took the bait hook, line and sinker that as a believer in Jesus I would be insulated from pain. God is for me, who can be against me?  My translation: "I mean, if the God of the universe is in my corner I'm gonna come out on top! God is going to get behind all my causes and all my asks. He's for me!"  

You know that famous CS Lewis quote: "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us, we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be."  Yeah.

All that to say, I try to hold the hard differently these days. (Try being the operating word). What I realize now is that I have no idea what God might be up to when hard things come to my door. I can only pray through the following:

If the hard thing is something I think the enemy of my soul is testing me with, I resist his lies and stand, held tight in Jesus.  If the hard thing is something I've brought upon myself via sin, I turn, repent and surrender held tight in Jesus.  If the hard thing is something 100% out of left field that is probably just a by-product of living as a human on planet earth, I lean into God, held tight in Jesus.  God alone knows.  He might speak a single word that changes everything in this temporal existence, but I know he has already spoken the Word that changed everything for eternity.