Acts 6: 8-15
“We’ve heard that Jesus will destroy this place and change the customs which Moses handed on to us.”
These people felt threatened! They didn’t want the system to change. When we feel threatened, when life begins to shift for whatever reason we will go to any length to keep things the way they are. The folks in Jesus’ day resorted to murder – Jesus’ murder and that of many of his followers. We have a tendency to want to silence the prophets even in our own day.
We don’t like change. But we have a choice. In some situations, we don’t have to change. Someone may be forcing a change on us against our will that is unhealthy. In such a situation we have the perfect right to refuse to change. However, many situations of change might be good for us and those we love – but we go kicking and screaming! In such situations, can I see change as an opportunity instead of a dark, negative place?
A few years ago I broke up with my boyfriend. I loved him very much and I went kicking and screaming into this breakup. I didn’t want it. However, as my Momma used to say: “hindsight is 20/20!” Looking back, that break up was needed. That very difficult change in my life threw me into a tailspin – yet opened doors and places within me that were closed while I was with him. Something seemingly negative became the doorway to new life.
Are you in the midst of a change in your life? Can we see the silver lining in the cloud and the positive things that just might unfold as a result of it?
I am going through a bit of a major shift in my life. In one sense it’s not a big deal. In another, it’s a HUGE deal. And it’s one of those situations where you don’t know whether or not it’s all going to work out. Ever been there?
My tendency in such times is to stop living. I get so focused on the challenge at hand that I put my life and sometimes my relationships on hold. This is no way to live. OK, it usually takes me a while to learn things; but learn I do! This “storm” in my life is presenting me with a wonderful opportunity to learn patience and detachment. It presents me with another lesson in what it means to be so detached that I can continue to LIVE in the midst of the storm. Do what I must, yes. But then, let go and allow it to go where it will.
We CAN live in the midst of the storm!
Note: For those who read these meditations, you’ve noticed that I’m not writing daily anymore. My goal is to provide meditations on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. I hope that you find these a source of help along your journey!
Would He Be Recognized Today?
If Jesus walked among us today, would he be recognized? And, if he was, I wonder who would recognize him? I suspect that those who would recognize him wouldn’t be the usual suspects.
Look at Mattew 21: 33-43, 45-46. In Jesus’ day, who were the ones who didn’t recognize him? Many times in the Gospels it was the established religious leaders who didn’t recognize him – the ones supposedly in charge of the vineyard. Curious hugh? Is the same true today?
Those who did recognize Jesus were most often those you would least suspect: the uneducated, the poor, the sick, those rejected by their religion, women, those known to be sinners, those on the fringe. These are the people who recognized him.
It can really be a pain sometimes to be on the fringe of religion or society. It’s difficult. If you find yourself on the fringe, take heart. You just might be in the best place to recognize the truth and depth of his message – even though the powers that be may tell you otherwise.
Jonah 3: 1-10
If someone told you that if you didn’t stop doing something you would soon be dead, would you stop doing that thing which is destroying you? I think most of us, if given the chance would indeed stop and choose to live! Jonah called out to the people, telling them that if they didn’t change they would soon be dead; and the people quickly turned from their death dealing ways and chose life.
Most of the time, we don’t have a Jonah though. We don’t have someone telling us to stop some negative pattern of behavior so that we might experience the best Life has to offer. Or if we do, we take their call to us as a personal affront, instead of seeing it as a gesture of love and concern for our well being. Most of the time we go about our negative habits or patterns of thinking or behavior totally denying how they are affecting us and those around us.
Don’t you want to really live? Don’t you want to get out there and drink life in?
When we’re caught in some bad habit, some negative pattern it literally sucks the life out of us, doesn’t it? Think about some negative thinking you might have, some negative behavior, some ingrained bad habit. Doesn’t it sap the life out of you, not to mention those around you?
I believe that God wants us to live, wants us to drink life in and get rid of those things that hold us from doing just that. Lent then really isn’t about gloom and doom. It’s about rising from the graves that we’ve built for ourselves. It’s about naming the lie that this or that behavior is going to make me feel better; when in reality it’s sucking the life out of me! It’s about letting go of that which has kept us mired in winter’s lifelessness. It’s about taking some small step away from something which is killing us or those around us and stepping into a new springtime of living!
I recently heard a talk in which the speaker described an animal that had been born in a zoo. After some years they built a multi-million dollar display, simulating the natural habitat for the animal, thinking that it would create a better, happier space for the animal. When it was released into its new space, much to their surprise, it stayed to one small area. It only walked the same path over and over, creating a rut in the ground, which got deeper as time went on. The animal had all this beautiful space, but it stayed in that one little rut and didn’t roam elsewhere! The speaker went on to say: aren’t we like that sometimes? We get in a rut, doing and thinking the same things over and over – missing so much of what could be if we just got out of the rut.
If you’ve read my last couple of meditations, you’ll know that I spoke of Lent as an opportunity to “get naked” to remove the “cloak” that holds us from being more present to life, to others and to God. When we, with the help of a Power greater than ourselves, remove whatever that is and stand naked in life, present, alive and aware – we get outa the rut and into the groove!
Suddenly, we begin to live again! Suddenly we look around and see so much of life around us. We slowly crawl out of that rut and begin, perhaps fearfully at first, to wander out into the beauty that we have been missing. All that beauty, all those people, all those possibilities suddenly open up before us – because we have had the courage to name that which keeps us all bound up, because we have had the courage to call on a Power greater than ourselves to free us.
Have you named the cloak that you need to remove, the cloak that keeps you separated from life, from others and from God? Have you called on a Higher Power to help you, trusting that the help WILL come? Is the cloak beginning to fall away?
Are you getting out of the rut, and into the groove?
I recently heard a wonderful conference in which the speaker used the example of the blind man Bartimaeus (Mark 10: 46-52) who cries out to Jesus “I want to see!” Two things that the presenter said about this story struck me that have bearing on my living and on the season of Lent.
First, notice that in the story many people tell Bartimaeus to be quiet! They try to shut him up! They don’t like what he’s saying. After all, according to the prevalent thought of the day, Bartimaeus would have been considered a “sinner,” an outsider, a nobody – someone to shun and avoid. He certainly would have held no status in the religious establishment. Notice what Bartimaeus does after being told to shut up. He speaks even louder!
Sometimes the institution, be it church, society, political, the workplace, family or friends – sometimes the institution tries to shut people up. Like Bartimaeus though, I pray for the courage to only speak louder! Notice too that Jesus does not shun Bartimaeus. If anything he ignores the people telling Bartimaeus to shut up, but looks with compassion upon Bartimaeus.
Secondly, notice what Bartimaeus does when Jesus calls him over. He removes his cloak and runs to Jesus – buck naked!! He removes anything which would hold him from being fully present to Jesus and to others.
This Lent, what “cloak” do I need to remove? What is it that keeps me from being fully present to God and others? It could be a variety of things from an addiction, to a negative attitude, to fear, a poor self image, self centeredness, etc. What needs to be removed so that I can be more fully alive and present to Life and others? In what way do I need to get naked?