A Captivating Banquet

eucharist-body-of-christ-church-mass-161081.jpegWhen I am invited to your banquet, you captivate me.  My heart is wide open.  I’m ready to embrace all that you offer.  I kneel in your presence anticipating this feast.  I long to taste all that you are, to be consumed as I consume your body and blood.  The moment draws near, my heart beats faster with eagerness and delight.  I slowly approach and bow in your presence.  My heart skips a beat as my body becomes weak.  There in front of me your body is revealed, illuminated and perfect as the priest offers it to me.  I see you veiled in the priest.  You place yourself up on my tongue, the sweetness of honey, the bread from heaven.  To your cup I approach and your blood I intake.  How precious and great is this kiss to my lips?  As I walk to my pew, I feel your presence through my veins and in my heart, your body imparts the sweetness of love.

In this beautiful gift small and meek, a grand entrance of love manifests within me.  I can’t contain the tears as they flow from my eyes offering praise and thanksgiving for all you have given.  You sacrificed yourself upon that cross that I glance up on in this moment.  A river of mercy and love for me and mankind streamed as my tears do right now.  How can I repay you for such a grand gift?  You whisper to my ear “accept my love and follow me”.  I can no longer refuse.  “Here I am at the foot of your cross, waiting for your hand and your guidance.”

Have you been captivated lately?  Have you taste of the sweetest love, savoring within your heart and soul?  Have you longed for a greater love?

Open your invitation that was sent to you this week to the most marvelous banquet.  You are sure to fall in love with the one who is waiting for you to celebrate his love for you.

A Masterpiece

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Years ago, my daughter had just noticed that she was getting freckles and was upset. I told her that God was painting them on her face and that she was his beautiful painting. Later, I started thinking about that a little more in regards to life…. Our journey through life is exactly that – God’s work of art.

Through every trial and suffering, through the people we cross everyday, through the joyful moments, and the challenging ones, He is carving and molding us into a work of art, His work of art. He is never done with us. He is always moving us, pushing our boundaries outward. All we have to do is invite Him in to do so. Allow Him to do so. Accept what is happening to us. Trust that He knows what He is doing and that He will create the most perfect, most beautiful piece of art work with each moment, each person in our life – challenging and non-challenging.

Through it all, He will not make a mistake. He will not let you fall and shatter. Do you accept the invitation? Are you willing to allow God to shape you into something you could never imagine, you could never do or be on your own? Will you allow Him to paint your freckles, make you His masterpiece?

Thief of JOY

padlock-lock-chain-key-39624.jpeg“The joyfulness of the heart is the life of a man, and a never-failing treasure of holiness, and the joy of a man is length of life” (Sir. 30:23)

Have you been robbed lately? Not of material things, but have you been robbed by the thief of JOY?

How many of you have an alarm system on your homes? Savings account to secure your finances? Lock your cars when you go into the grocery store?

We lock up and secure the things we value in our lives, our possessions. Yet one of our greatest treasures that is freely given us we hardly ever secure, our JOY. We allow the enemy to step right up and steal our JOY with ease.

Perhaps, someone cut you off in traffic and you said a few choice words. A friend may have made a hurtful comment to you and you wept. Your toddler spilt milk everywhere making you late for work. You were excited about an idea for a project and your boss didn’t like it. There are so many scenarios throughout our day that can take our smile and turn it upside down. It’s amazing how instantaneous it can be, how easy the enemy takes our gift and chunks it in the trash.

I remember years ago, I had put a lot of thought into a gift for my husband at the time for our anniversary. I had bought him a book and a ring with a scripture verse inscribed on the inside of the band. Both had a significant value in my eyes and a message from my heart. When I gave him the gifts, there was no response of gratitude. The ring he returned to the store and the book he had placed on the floor next to the trash can in the broom closet. My heart was broken and my excitement and JOY were met with sadness and hurt.

Why is it so easy for us to guard our material treasures we store up on earth yet so hard to protect the spiritual treasures given to us by God? Is it a lack of faith and trust in God that we are emotionally vulnerable and the enemy slivers his way in to attack? How can we protect our JOY from the thief that steals it? I’ve come to believe that the best answer is being steadfast in prayer which will allow us to respond in love.

I have learned over the years that when I pray before responding to someone who has said hurtful words to me that I tend to respond in love and I don’t lose my joy. I may momentarily become frustrated until I pray asking God to guard my heart and fill it with his love. When I am emotionally hurt, I am unable to humanly respond in love. I need the grace of God. So prayer is extremely important in securing my treasure, my JOY.

Don’t allow the enemy to steal your JOY. Pray that God guards and fills your heart with love when the person cuts you off in traffic, the friend says something hurtful, your toddler spills milk and your running late, or when your idea is not the one your boss is looking for at that time. And may be next time the thief of JOY will not be successful in his heist.

Spiritual Healing

pexels-photo-999311.jpeg“For I will restore you to health and I will heal you of your wounds.” – Jeremiah 30:17 (NASB)

Who hasn’t endured suffering through a trial or doesn’t know someone who has?  I’m not sure anyone can answer “not me” to this question.  Pain and suffering surround our life.  It’s part of our world.  Trials are a part of our life journey.  God never says we will not suffer.  He does say he will be with us and see us through those times of suffering.

Jesus bore the ultimate suffering.  When he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, his “tears became like drops of blood,” (Luke 22:24) and he placed his will in God’s hands.  As he asks God to “take this cup away from me; still, not my will, but yours be done,” (Luke 22:42) God gave him strength to endure the suffering of his journey that lay before him.  God also sent Simon the Cyrenian to help carry Jesus’ cross.  I believe God also sends people and circumstances to us as we place our will in his hands during our struggles, while carrying our crosses.

Everyone undergoes suffering at some point in their life.  These trials may come in different shapes and sizes and affect each person in different ways.  One may suffer the loss of a loved one, loss of a job, addiction, divorce, be a victim of abuse or a tragic accident.  This list goes on.  During this time, many people discover a relationship with God or may strengthen their relationship with God.  Some may never get passed it.  They may become angry with God.  They may wonder where God is or how could he let this happen, yet they never ask him.  They remain stuck, angry, bitter.  Their world becomes plagued with darkness and they can’t move on, past the hurt.

Healing from a tragedy or a trial in your journey of life is key to peace, joy and happiness.  Healing cannot be complete without going through a process, an emotional process, a process with God ever present, guiding you.

Many years ago, I went through an emotional healing process, a spiritual healing.  Through my journey, I uncovered a reliance on God.  I sought God as he guided me through a very emotional and painful divorce.  There were several elements along the way that I needed to achieve spiritual healing, total healing from my trial.  God prepared me each step.  Before advancing to the next step, I needed to learn the step before it.  It’s like a father who is teaching his little girl how to walk.  Before she can begin to walk on her own, he helps her stand and feel her strength in her legs.  Then he holds her hand as he helps her move each foot, one step at a time.  When she begins to grasp it, he lets go.  She falls and he picks her up, reassuring her confidence as he holds her hand again and then let’s go.  The process continues until she masters each step, with his guidance and security knowing he is there to pick her up.  This process is similar to God’s spiritual healing process.  The entire time he is there giving you strength, guiding your hand, and ready to pick you up when you fall.  Then one day, you are ready to walk your journey with joy in your heart.

Empty Tomb

But Mary stayed outside the tomb weeping.  And as she wept, she bent over into the tomb and saw two angels in white sitting there, one at the head and one at the feet where the body of Jesus had been.  And they said to her “Woman, why are you weeping?”  She said to them, “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they laid him.”  When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus there, but did not know it was Jesus.  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you looking for?”  John 20:11-15

Have you ever woke up and felt empty and lost?  You weren’t certain what was missing but you knew something was.  You went about your business, never stopping to pray.  You glanced down and saw your Bible on the night stand and paid it no mind.  You went to church but really weren’t present.  Your mind was somewhere else.

When I read this passage in John, when Mary Magdalene finds the tomb empty and begins to weep.  I reflect on my own heart, on the times that my heart felt empty like the tomb, when I have felt I had everything under control.  I didn’t need to pray, didn’t need to read the Bible.  I knew what I needed and what was best.  I went about my day with no thought of Jesus.

Today, like Mary Magdalene when she couldn’t find Jesus in the tomb, I weep for that person in me that had no relationship with Jesus, that was empty and lonely deep within.  I was blinded and couldn’t feel Jesus’ presence until one day, He called my name and opened my mind and my heart.  I couldn’t imagine my life today without Him, without prayer, without my church, and the Word of God.

Sometimes it takes our struggles in life to drop us to our knees and reach to the Heavens for help.  Lucky for us, Jesus is right there waiting for us to call to Him, just as He was right there when Mary Magdalene thought His body had been taken away.  The truth of His resurrection, had not sunk in yet until He called her name.  It was then that her eyes were opened and she recognized Him.  Sometimes that truth hasn’t sunk into our minds either and we struggle with it, recognizing His presence is with us always.  All we have to do is open our eyes, mind and heart and He reveals Himself to us – lightening our burdens and filling us with love.

Have you wept lately wondering where Jesus is?  Have you felt like He was not present when you needed Him?  Have you felt that he was gone, as if your heart felt like the empty tomb that was discovered Easter morning?   He is calling your name.  Will you recognize Him?

 

 

Stepping Stones

pexels-photo-914780.jpegHave you ever imagined your life a river guiding you on a spiritual journey to God? When you first jump in, it’s so exciting, you feel God so present, you see Him in front of you.  There are stepping stones in front of you making it easier for you to journey through the river towards Him.

Then one day the stepping stones in front of you in the river are gone and you have no place to go. You begin to panic and then you see this house on the river bank, safe and secure. The only path is backwards to this house. You know you don’t want to go backwards, you want to move forward. You stand still on the stone you are standing on, take a deep breath, say a prayer and a stepping stone appears in front of you. You take another breath and another stone appears. With every breath, with every prayer a stone appears in front of you. You take another and you wait for the stone but it doesn’t appear and then you look at the river bank and notice that God is delicately choosing the perfect stone to lay in front of you. He is tearing down the house stone by stone, tearing down your attachments as you breathe Him in, rest in Him in prayer, rely on Him, trust in Him.

Every time we allow these attachments to be torn down, dismantled, we grow closer to God, our spiritual journey continues and there are no boundaries as the river will continue to flow and God will continue to guide us, laying each stone in front of us. This was a reflection from a book I read sometime ago “Inner Compass”.

Our attachments come in many shapes and forms.  They can be our careers, money, our children, our children’s activities, our friends, our cell phones, our hobbies, our worries, fears, etc.  Anything that we place focus on or rely on above God.  Some may seem right and just.  We should place the care of our family as a priority in our lives, but when we begin to leave God out of the equation in our families, it becomes a disordered attachment.  Perhaps, instead of going to church on Sunday, we decide to support our children in a baseball tournament or soccer tournament.  May be, we go to our friends to tell our deeps concerns and issues before we pray to God and ask Him for guidance.  Fear and worry are huge disordered attachments many of us may hang on to.  When we don’t take these concerns to God, we dwell on them and they begin to define us.

When we have disordered attachments in our lives, instead of giving us life they begin to draw the life from us.  We begin to struggle with sustaining our relationship with God because we aren’t placing Him at the center.  We aren’t allowing ourselves to be guided and strengthened through Him because we are relying on these other things to bring us life.

Review the things in your life that are bringing you life and the things that are sucking life out of you.  Perhaps the things that are sucking life out of you are the bricks that you need to ask God to tear down and place in front of you so that you can continue to follow Him in the river along the journey He has planned for you.

Be Still…

Be still and know that I am God. Psalms 46:11

pexels-photo-326055.jpegHave things in your life been hectic, with little room for God? Are you struggling to sit quietly in prayer to listen to what He wants to tell you? Is your mind full of clutter and preventing you from being in the stillness, the presence of God?

Sometimes I think when we are at this pivotal moment where we are struggling to find this time, to free our minds, to sit at the feet of Jesus and just be still, God places us in a circumstance that does just that. He calls us to rest in Him when we are tired, weary, worn out from the busyness of life.

For me, I think this has been recent. I was at a pivotal moment where I was worn out, struggling to find time to pray. When I did find time, my mind was everywhere but there. I remember long ago when I was at the beginning of my spiritual journey, I told my spiritual director that my mind was full of clutter and I couldn’t pray. She suggested that perhaps God wanted me to bring this clutter to prayer. Again, recently, I found myself at this point, struggling to pray with all this clutter. Except this time the clutter was more about all the things I needed to do or to not forget I needed to do. Every time I sat down to pray, when I found a few minutes, my mind was focused on everything I needed to do that day.  My days had become too busy, too busy to even set aside a small amount of time for focused prayer.

Several months ago, I found myself unexpectedly sitting in a hospital bed for 2 days with nothing to do, but rest.  This little episode caused me a lot of downtime, a lot of rest. I found myself often wondering what am I going to do with all this restful time, in the absence of the busyness? Then God whispers, “be still and know that I am God.” I am the God who created day and night, water and land, all the animals that roam the earth, and most of all you. Trust in my ways and embrace my love by resting in my arms today. Rest your mind and let me guide your thoughts and your path. I will direct your life, through the story I have already written and the living master piece I have set before you. Now let me direct you by first being still and listening to the tiny whispers you hear. For in Me, you find all that you long for, all that you need. Rest my dear one. Rest!

In the busyness of your life consider setting aside time to be still and rest in the presence of God, at the feet of Jesus.  Quiet your mind and listen to what He is saying to you.  Your prayer is a conversation between you and Him, let Him speak to you as you rest your mind and your voice.