I’m not talking about the big loud thunder crashes, lightning bolts, and dramatic revelations. I mean the kinds where God may quietly reveal His presence to you throughout the day. It can be in the form of a phone call from a friend, the kindness of a passing stranger, or even a smell or picture that calls to mind God’s awesome presence. Some call it a coincidence, but I call it divine intervention. Whatever it is, we are left with the amazing awareness that something greater than us calls us to be a part of that which is bigger than our own little corner of the world.
Many times in life God has set me on a journey. Many times I have come to appreciate God’s voice located in the still, small, silent discoveries along the way. Things that may not appear to be much at first glance, but in the end are just as important as the big things. They are the wonderful little nuggets of knowledge that we glean from our desire to grow in God’s will for our lives.
We simply have to be open to the quiet discoveries along the way. Reflect and know that the Creator continues to pour blessings in your life. While they are subtle, they are incredibly profound and important. All that is required is a willing heart.
Today, I give thanks for the times where God is undeniably present. I also give thanks for the times when I must be still and allow God’s love to quietly flow through me and around me. These times of peace lead to times of strength and confidence in the awareness of spirit. May we leave ourselves open to God’s breath to speak hope and healing into our lives.
My wife and I were walking past an exhibit at a craft show yesterday and a phrase caught my attention. Since I don’t know the author, I feel like I am not at liberty to quote it. What captivated me was the incredible intimacy of the writing. The sentence reaffirms the unique and incredible bond between a mother and her children. There is a place that I as a man and father will never be able to travel, nor will ever be able to experience. A heartbeat from the inside out.
I first thought of my own mother and was overcome with how much I miss her. I then thought about the love of God that has known us since we were created. How intimately and thoroughly the Holy Spirit knows me. Think about it. This One who is the creator started the beating of our hearts. Like the author of Psalm 139, “This knowledge is too much for me; it’s so high above me that I can’t fathom it” (vs. 6 CEB).
The reality is that we are linked together by God’s incredible knowledge and love for us. It is in our very DNA. We long for a relationship with the One who has known us before our mothers had a clue that we were being formed. How amazing is that? Again, I am speechless. For those who know me, that is an awesome wonder to behold.
It is very easy to take for granted our relationship with God without considering the incredible and unique nature of the divine love which has been poured out over us from our humblest of beginnings. Sometimes, when we are prompted by signs, we remember (and hopefully give thanks) for this amazing gift that was given to us before our first heartbeat, before our first breath, even before our first memory. This Holy Presence has been with us; and will continue to stay with us. Again I ask, “How amazing is that?”
It was great to be back in the pulpit this Sunday. I have not preached in two weeks due to some very special Sundays in the life of our church. While we worshipped well the last few weeks, I felt like I was back where I belonged this morning. Life seemed to be balanced, right where everything makes sense.
There is a feeling of strength and wholeness that I experience when delivering a sermon. Nothing feels the same. I have a place in which the words that come out of my mouth matter. I enjoy struggling with the issues of life and God, along with my congregation. Transformation occurs as I surrender to the One who gives me strength. I become a vehicle by which hope can be expressed in ways that will empower a room full of those seeking solace.
There is something that is other worldly when I stand before the congregation each Sunday morning. It is a time to share absolute gratitude for being allowed to live in a space that is holy and sacred. This is where lives are made whole and hearts are “strangely warmed.” I am blessed beyond all measure, because I get to share with everyone what the Holy One has done in my life. Believe me, it is a true miracle!
It is my hope that you will find that special something that guides you and brings you into your heart’s joy. You may be able to share that passion with a world that needs to hear the good news. Stand up and allow the Spirit to guide you and direct your path. You will be much happier as you continue your journey.
Praise be to God that we can search and find our passions in life. May we embrace them and give thanks for all that we are given. Live within the joy of your salvation and know that you were created to shine the light of God into the world. Be ever present and always joyful.
If only life were as simple as the title of this post suggests. We all start with a blank slate and write our own story. The truth is, our slates are colored by others in ways that are sometimes affirming and sometimes harmful. When we finally become aware that we have any agency what so ever in our narrative, we are the result of many people who have etched on our souls ways and processes by which we respond to the world. Our stories are not our own.
As we get older we begin to assume responsibility for our actions and take over the role of artist and creator in our lives. While we may not be able to erase those parts of our slate that have wounded us, we can paint broad strokes over those unhealthy places and reclaim those parts for ourselves. Many of us don’t realize until much later that we are capable of framing the portraits of our lives. We allow others to continue to wield power over places that should be ours. Our freedom is found in reclaiming our own voice.
“Now wait just a minute,” you say. “Isn’t God the author of our stories? The one who paints on this blank slate?” Well, yes, but we must claim and share our part in the process. God is the one who holds our hand steady as we paint. The vision of what we shall put on the canvas is created by God. We must be still and capture the picture that will become the painting. It is up to us to get the work done. To assume that we have no part in the creation of the work is to diminish our role in the process of being human.
I hope that we continue to pray to the one who guides our hands and create the work of the master of all works. May our painting reflect the incredible love of our amazing God. While the slate is not blank, it can capture the brilliance of the creator of life. We embrace our divine inspiration with the hope that our work will reflect the love of the Holy One.
I am currently reading a book titled Love and Hate: The Story of Henri Landwirth. Henri was a holocaust survivor. His journey takes him through the atrocities of the death camps in Germany, his struggles to survive in a world torn apart by war, and his ability to carry on with his life. We share in his moment of transformation, when he realizes in postwar Paris that he wanted more for his life than to live with continued hostility. He discovers that in order to live a life filled with meaning and purpose he had to surrender his anger and bitterness. Henri concluded that if he were to continue down a path of hate the Nazis would win. He was determined not to give them the victory.
The power of transformation occurs in our lives when we discover the desire to be made complete. Our lives must be more than the events of our past. We have no control over people or situations that occur before the present moment. What we can manage is now. How often do we let the events of the past control us and leave us feeling like victims; without power, without joy, without hope?
In order to change our situations, we must allow God to transform our hearts. The power of the Holy Spirit is an amazing thing. It’s brilliant fire fills us with a sense of renewed passion. Where once there was no hope, now there are is meaning and wholeness. Through our surrender to God’s love our rebirth sparks within us the joy of creation.
As we journey through this Lenten season let us call to mind how God has changed us. Let us reclaim the brilliant handiwork of the Divine in our lives. We renounce hate and bitterness only to embrace joy and love. This healing power alters the course of our lives and gives us a gift beyond our own understanding. We are transformed. We are made whole.
Today I met with my incredible staff at a restaurant (Gabriel’s) in Santa Fe, NM. The food was wonderful. After a great meeting I was dropped off at the Santa Fe Plaza. My wife is joining me for a wonderful concert of American music presented by the Desert Chorale.
It has been strange being on my own. I have spent my time wandering the streets and visiting the Loretta Chapel and the St. Francis Basilica. No one would have branded me a Methodist in this all Catholic setting. My secret was safe with the exception of the cross that hangs from my neck. No crucifix, my secret is revealed!
When I left the Basilica, I noticed a labyrinth outside of the church. I decided to walk the path and did so in silence. The intricate inner workings of the design took me approximately 30 minutes to walk. As I continued on my journey, I tried to clear my mind of the world around me and concentrate on taking the next right turn on the path. Sometimes there were distractions along the way. The street was filled with cars that filled the air with unnecessary noise. I tried not to let the external chaos overwhelm me as I attempted to listen to my soul.
I prayed for my family; for my sons. I prayed that I would continue along my path to be the person, pastor, husband, father, friend, etc…that I am called to be. I had to concentrate on my journey. While I was walking several people started to follow the labyrinth’s path. They were noisy and did not exhibit a sense of solemnity as they ran up and down the colored bricks that indicated the road to the center of the pattern. It was distracting and at times I wanted to break my silence and simply say, “Please be quiet!” Realizing my response would negate the reason I began this journey in the first place I decided to be quiet and make room for the intruders into my holy space.
Despite everything around me, I finished walking the labyrinth. I walked to the center and then back out to where I began my odyssey. Taking this quick 30 minute journey made me realize that as I continue down my spiritual path I will encounter noise, distractions, and fatigue. All of these outside influences should not interrupt my walk. I should push forward with my eyes focused on the next right step and the next right turn. It is my focus on God that carries me through the challenges that I encounter. I am grateful that I am on the road and that I am a child of the One who guides my path. I hope to have more moments to simply be still and focus on God.