Please pardon the disappearance as Hannah and I prepare to head over to Mission EDIFY this January!
I took a chance on something that I believe in wholeheartedly. I spoke up, and then I fell seemingly flat on my face. The great thing about falling is the direction in which I fell--forward. With a mouth full of dirt I stood up and realized with gentle surprise that I'd fallen across the finish line. (At least for this heat of the race I run.)
I fell in the right direction, which is to say, I gained spiritual territory smack in the middle of the uncertainty of outcomes. God continues to reveal that vulnerability is not a weakness. It's tempting to believe that vulnerability threatenes to taint my future or diminish my identity as His child, but it isn't true. Josef Pieper writes in The Four Cardinal Virutes that "vulnerability presupposes fortitude." This is an extraordinary thought to ponder.
I encourage you to speak the truth in kindness even if it's frightening. Take back territory in the areas of your life where you've gazed too long at the scene of your last fall. Look back long enough to recognize where you do not want to be, but refuse to live backwards. Have a sober look at the destructive patterns in your decision making that trip you up and perpetuate past hurt and trauma. *St. Thomas Aquinas calls these destructive actions "vices."
Ask God for wisdom and fortitude. Choose to move forward. Map it out. Where are you now? Where do you desire to be? What life-giving action can you take on behalf of God's will for your life, which by the way, is love and mercy itself. Is this action likely to edify you intellectually and morally? Are they virtuous?
Create a plan that best illustrates not merely where you want to be, but who you hope to be in Christ. And then trust the Divine to direct your steps despite the hecklers in your head who chant you'll never make it. Stuff a sweaty sock in your ego's mouth. Trust that you can and will make it.
"The human heart plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps" (Proverbs 16: 9 NAB).
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perserverance the race that is set before us" (Hebrews 12:1 Didache).
We do not walk, run, fall, or cross finish lines apart from the love of God. I think it's fair to say that many of us crossed over into 2021 with considerable stores of aches and pains. And thanks be to God, Divine Mercy in greater measure.
" . . . But the greatest of these is love."
*Thomas Aquinas. Summa Theologiae, also known as the Summa Theologica or the Summa.
Published on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 @ 4:31 PM CDT
In John 6:12, Jesus tells His disciples, "Gather up the fragments that remain, so that nothing is lost." If you remember, he'd just multiplied five barely loaves to feed the five thousand.
Nothing is wasted in God's economy. Nothing. Not broken relationships, finances, or hearts. Christ gathers the fragments, makes us whole, and multiplies our stories to feed those who hunger for hope. Even in times of physical isolation, we are not alone.
Wherever you stand on the path to healing, chances are you have something to give to someone who's not as far along as you. It's also likely that if you're open to receiving help, God has placed someone in your life willing to come along side you to lend a helping hand.
Who can you encourage today? Who will you allow to encourage you?
A word about seasons of isolation.
There have been times in my life when I've reached out for help, but it didn't come from the human hands I'd hoped for. Times when I was all but sure I'd go insane from loneliness AND being alone. I've learned during those seasons that God was beckoning for my full attention. If you better relate to this scenario, I encourage you to take the time to talk to God each day. Talk, or journal.
Read Bible stories that tell of God's servants during seasons of isolation. Notice how they respond to God. Note the raw emotion they share, the insight they gain, and the grace at work in their circumstances. Ask God for the wisdom to apply this same insight to your circumstances. And rest assured--isolation is only for a season.
Almighty and Eternal God, I trust You with the fragments of my heart. Each day I move toward wholeness. Guide me today. Help me to recognize there is purpose in my life. Provide opportunities for me to be a source of encouragement to others, and grant me the courage to be obedient to what You ask of me. If You want my full attention, let Your very presence be my comfort. I am not alone. I do not suffer in vain. And I am tired of wearing a mask everywhere I go. Amen.
Peace and good,
Published on Friday, November 13, 2020 @ 9:34 PM CDT