Archive for August, 2013

Not Our Job

Thursday, August 22nd, 2013

Remaining detached actually allows for greater love, I think, because our own emotions don’t begin to dictate what the other person should be doing, thus clouding the impact of our silent though very powerful expression. Sitting in quiet prayer on behalf of someone else when he or she is struggling may seem like a cold act, but it is fulfilling God’s will for our lives in that moment. Every person needs to establish his or her own relationship with God. It’s not our job to introduce them.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 213

Asking Our Father

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

A man will please God better by believing some things that are not told him, than by confining his faith to those things that are expressly said — said to arouse in us the truth-seeing faculty, the spiritual desire, the prayer for the good things which God will give to them that ask him.

“But is this not a dangerous doctrine? Will not a man be taught thus to believe the things he likes best, even to pray for that which he likes best? And will he not grow arrogant in his confidence?”

If it be true that the Spirit strives with our spirit; if it be true that God teaches men, we may safely leave those dreaded results to him. . . . If he is not taught of God in that which he hopes for, God will let him know it. He will receive something else than he prays for. If he can pray to God for anything not good, the answer will come in the flames of that consuming fire. These will soon bring him to some of his spiritual senses. But it will be far better for him to be thus sharply tutored, than to go on a snail’s pace in the journey of the spiritual life. And for arrogance, I have seen nothing breed it faster or in more offensive forms than the worship of the letter.

And to whom shall a man, whom the blessed God has made, look for what he likes best, but to that blessed God? . . . What a man likes best may be God’s will, may be the voice of the Spirit striving with his spirit, not against it; and if, as I have said, it be not so — if the thing he asks is not according to his will — there is that consuming fire. The danger lies, not in asking from God what is not good, nor even in hoping to receive it from him, but in not asking him, in not having him of our council. . . .

What should I think of my child, if I found that he limited his faith in me and hope from me to the few promises he had heard me utter! The faith that limits itself to the promises of God, seems to me to partake of the paltry character of such a faith in my child — good enough for a Pagan, but for a Christian a miserable and wretched faith. Those who rest in such a faith would feel yet more comfortable if they had God’s bond instead of his word, which they regard not as the outcome of his character, but as a pledge of his honour. They try to believe in the truth of his word, but the truth of his Being, they understand not. In his oath they persuade themselves that they put confidence: in himself they do not believe, for they know him not. . . . Brother, sister, if such is your faith, you will not, must not stop there. You must come out of this bondage of the law to which you give the name of grace, for there is little that is gracious in it. You will yet know the dignity of your high calling, and the love of God that passeth knowledge. He is not afraid of your presumptuous approach to him. It is you who are afraid to come near him. He is not watching over his dignity. It is you who fear to be sent away as the disciples would have sent away the little children.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series, p. 56-60

Detachment and Trust

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Detachment may look like disinterest to some because of the act of walking away or looking beyond a situation in which a friend is trapped. But it’s closely allied with trust. Trusting that God will do for others what God always does for us when we wait patiently. Having hope for our friend is the best we can offer him.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 212

Sing Loud

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

It’s rebellious, in a way, to choose joy, to choose to dance, to choose to love your life. It’s much easier and much more common to be miserable. But I choose to do what I can do to create hope, to celebrate life, and the act of celebrating connects me back to that life I love. We could just live our normal, day-to-day lives, saving all the good living up for someday, but I think today, just plain today, is worth it. I think it’s our job, each of us, to live each day like it’s a special occasion, because we’ve been given a gift. We get to live in this beautiful world. When I live purposefully and well, when I dance instead of sitting it out, when I let myself laugh hard, when I wear my favorite shoes on a regular Tuesday, that regular Tuesday is better.

Right now, around our house, all the leaves are falling, and there’s no reason that they have to turn electric bright red before they fall, but they do, and I want to live like that. I want to say, “What can I do today that brings more beauty, more energy, more hope?” Because it seems like that’s what God is saying to us, over and over. “What can I do today to remind you again how good this life is? You think the color of the sky is good now, wait till sunset. You think oranges are good? Try a tangerine.” He’s a crazy delightful mad scientist and keeps coming back from the lab with great, unbelievable new things, and it’s a gift. It’s a gift to be a part of it.

I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don’t want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift, who will use it up and wring it out and drag it around like a favorite sweater.

— Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p. 234-235

Where God is Closest

Monday, August 12th, 2013

But, as Christians, we are called to convert our loneliness into solitude. We are called to experience our aloneness not as a wound but as a gift — as God’s gift — so that in our aloneness we might discover how deeply we are loved by God.

It is precisely where we are most alone, most unique, most ourselves, that God is closest to us. That is where we experience God as the divine, loving Father, who knows us better than we know ourselves.

Solitude is the way in which we grow into the realization that where we are most alone, we are most loved by God. It is a quality of heart, an inner quality that helps us to accept our aloneness lovingly, as a gift from God.

— Henri J. M. Nouwen, The Only Necessary Thing, p. 43-44

No Strings Attached

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Attachment to others and what they might be thinking, coupled with analyzing how our behavior might change that thinking, is a great definition for codependence. Many suffer from it. But there is a solution, and if we opt to follow it, we will get a daily reprieve from our obsession with any other person. The solution is this: acknowledge that your appropriate role in someone else’s life is kindness and prayer, perhaps sharing an experience when asked, and then wishing them well with no strings attached. Then turn to the only life you can control: your own.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 208

Create

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Do something creative every day, even if you work in a cubicle, even if you have a newborn, even if someone told you a long time ago that you’re not an artist, or you can’t sing, or you have nothing to say. Those people are bad people, and liars, and we hope they develop adult-onset acne really bad. Everyone has something to say. Everyone. Because everyone, every person was made by God, in the image of God. If he is a creator, and in fact he is, then we are creators, and no one, not a bad seventh-grade English teacher or a harsh critic or jealous competitor, can take that away from you.

— Shauna Niequist, Cold Tangerines, p. 229

Witness, Pray, and Hope

Monday, August 5th, 2013

We may find it hard to understand that letting others “sink or swim” as they choose is love. But it is. The difficulty is that sometimes others don’t end up “swimming,” and then we have to remember that everyone has their own journey and their own Higher Power. Our assignment is to witness, to pray, and to hope, but never to do for someone else what he or she needs to do.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 205

Kissing Little Children

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

How terribly, then, have the theologians misrepresented God in the measures of the low and showy, not the lofty and simple humanities! Nearly all of them represent him as a great King on a grand throne, thinking how grand he is, and making it the business of his being and the end of his universe to keep up his glory, wielding the bolts of a Jupiter against them that take his name in vain. They would not allow this, but follow out what they say, and it comes much to this. Brothers, have you found our king? There he is, kissing little children and saying they are like God. There he is at table with the head of a fisherman lying on his bosom, and somewhat heavy at heart that even he, the beloved disciple, cannot yet understand him well. The simplest peasant who loves his children and his sheep were — no, not a truer, for the other is false, but — a true type of our God beside that monstrosity of a monarch.

The God who is ever uttering himself in the changeful profusions of nature; who takes millions of years to form a soul that shall understand him and be blessed; who never needs to be, and never is, in haste; who welcomes the simplest thought of truth or beauty as the return for seed he has sown upon the old fallows of eternity; who rejoices in the response of a faltering moment to the age-long cry of his wisdom in the streets; the God of music, of painting, of building, the Lord of Hosts, the God of mountains and oceans; whose laws go forth from one unseen point of wisdom, and thither return without an atom of loss; the God of history working in time unto Christianity; this God is the God of little children, and he alone can be perfectly, abandonedly simple and devoted. The deepest, purest love of a woman has its well-spring in him. Our longing desires can no more exhaust the fullness of the treasures of the Godhead, than our imagination can touch their measure. Of him not a thought, not a joy, not a hope of one of his creatures can pass unseen; and while one of them remains unsatisfied, he is not Lord over all.

— George MacDonald, Unspoken Sermons, First Series, p. 22-24