The Work of Jesus

Jesus would not give himself to only a portion of his Father’s will, but to all of it. He would not pluck the spreading branches of the tree; he would lay the axe to its root. He would not deal with the mere effect of sin; he would destroy sin altogether. It would take time, but the tree would be dead at last — dead, and cast into the lake of fire. It would take time, but his Father had time enough and to spare. It would take courage and strength and self-denial and endurance; but his Father could give him all. It would cost pain of body and mind, agony and torture, but those he was ready to take on himself. It would cost him the vision of many sad and, to all but him, hopeless sights. He would have to see tears without wiping them, hear sighs without changing them into laughter, see the dead lie, and let them lie. He would have to see Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted. He must look on his brothers and sisters crying as children over their broken toys, and must not mend them. He must go on to the grave, and none of these know that thus he was setting all things right for them. His work must be one with and completing God’s creation and God’s history.

— George MacDonald, Knowing the Heart of God, p. 283

Loving Detachment

Obsession with the actions of others — wishing he or she would change, wanting more attention or perhaps less, wishing our significant others would let us decide their fate — is so exhausting. When we are caught up in the cycle of obsession, we are seldom even aware of how we are letting our own lives slip away. But slip away they will. Learning how to let go of others and their lives takes willingness, a tremendous commitment to staying the course, and constant practice. If we don’t keep this as a goal for our lives, we will miss the opportunities God is sending us for our own unique growth. We can only do justice to one life; ours.

Being detached from someone does not mean no longer caring for them. It does not mean pretending they no longer exist. It does not mean avoiding all contact with them. Being detached simply means not letting their behavior determine our feelings. It means not letting their behavior determine how we act, how we think, how we pray. Detachment is a loving act for all concerned. No one wants to be the constant center of someone else’s life, at least not for long. Two people lose their lives when either one is constantly focused on the other. That’s not why we are here.

— Karen Casey, Let Go Now, p. 21

Shifting from Worry to Watching

When you stop trying to control your life and instead allow your anxieties and problems to bring you to God in prayer, you shift from worry to watching. You watch God weave his patterns in the story of your life. Instead of trying to be out front, designing your life, you realize you are inside God’s drama. As you wait, you begin to see him work, and your life begins to sparkle with wonder. You are learning to trust again.

— Paul E. Miller, A Praying Life, p. 73

A More Joyous Experience

When we are aligned with God, our heart does lighten and we do experience the humor that is present in life. Freed from the pressure of trying to make life happen as we think it should happen, we are able to enjoy the ebb and flow of emotions and events as they do happen. We begin to be able to play more keys on our emotional piano than just the melancholy and dramatic ones. We begin to be able to experience the full range of responses that are part of our human nature….

When we begin to experience God more directly, less through our intellect and more through our heart, more experientially and less theoretically, we begin to have a more joyous experience. We discover we have access to a broader range of human emotions in our own responses to daily life. We feel the way we do feel not the way we should feel, and we discover that the way we do feel is acceptable to God who, after all, gave us the full range of human emotions we are now willing to undergo.

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 135-136

Joy in Small Miracles

Joy is the realest reality, the fullest life, and joy is always given, never grasped. God gives gifts and I give thanks and I unwrap the gift given: joy.

It is true, I never stop wanting to learn the hard eucharisteo for the deathbeds and dark skies and the prodigal sons. But I accept this is the way to begin, and all hard things come in due time and with practice…. Gratitude for the seemingly insignificant — a seed — this plants the giant miracle. The miracle of eucharisteo, like the Last Supper, is in the eating of crumbs, the swallowing down one mouthful. Do not disdain the small. The whole of the life — even the hard — is made up of the minute parts, and if I miss the infinitesimals, I miss the whole. These are new language lessons, and I live them out. There is a way to live the big of giving thanks in all things. It is this: to give thanks in this one small thing. The moments will add up.

I, too, had read it often, the oft-quoted verse: “And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). And I, too, would nod and say straight-faced, “I’m thankful for everything.” But in this counting gifts, to one thousand, more, I discover that slapping a sloppy brush of thanksgiving over everything in my life leaves me deeply thankful for very few things in my life. A lifetime of sermons on “thanks in all things” and the shelves sagging with books on these things and I testify: life-changing gratitude does not fasten to a life unless nailed through with one very specific nail at a time.

— Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 57

Precious Ordinary Moments

I think I learned the most about the value of ordinary from interviewing men and women who have experienced tremendous loss such as the loss of a child, violence, genocide, and trauma. The memories that they held most sacred were the ordinary, everyday moments. It was clear that their most precious memories were forged from a collection of ordinary moments, and their hope for others is that they would stop long enough to be grateful for those moments and the joy they bring. Author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson says, “Joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves to recognize how good things really are.”

— Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection, p. 84