I Will Not Stumble

Listen, God, to my prayer; do not hide from my pleading… I rock with grief… My heart pounds within me; death’s terrors fall upon me.  Fear and trembling overwhelm me; shuddering sweeps over me.  I say, “if only I had wings like a dove that I might fly away and find rest.  Far away I would flee; I would stay in the desert.  I would soon find a shelter from the raging wind and storm”… Cast your care upon the Lord, who will give you support.  He will never allow the righteous to stumble.  Psalm 55:2, 3, 5-9, 23

How many times have you felt so anxious about obstacles in life – the future and finances, trials, lost, illness, marriage issues, or safety and well being of your children?  You may be overwhelmed by grief of loss or an illness?  Perhaps you are nervous about an upcoming event or promotion?  May be you are afraid of conflict with your spouse or safety of your children?  Whatever it may be, you may feel so overwhelmed that you just want to escape, escape from the storm that is whirling around you.  May be you feel like God isn’t there, that He is hiding from your plea for help, to be saved from these wretched feelings.  All you want to do is flee, flee to a desert place where there is no rain, where the storm cannot find you and your anxieties are buried beneath the desert sand.

When I feel this anxious that I cannot see past the storm that all I want to do is find shelter, to be removed from it, I feel like I have fallen away from God.  In these moments I don’t look to God and “cast [my] care upon the Lord”.  I tell Him that I have this on my own, I’ll take care of it, I’ll just run away from it and it won’t find me.  I’m telling Him I don’t need Him to help me.  But when I cry out to Him in prayer and look to Him for His support, I find peace knowing that He will take care of me that He will not let me stumble and fall.  He will see me through the storm and He will be my shelter.  He will save me from the wretchedness of what is troubling me.

If God will not allow us to stumble, then I ask myself and I ask you, why does it take us so long to trust God by calling upon Him in prayer and knowing that He will support us and not allow us to stumble?

Heartfelt Coffee

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If we were having coffee right now, I would embrace you with a hug. I’m not sure if you need a hug but I know that I do. I know you would welcome my hug with love and compassion. That hug would tell me that my worries are just burdens weighing on my shoulders. As you released your embrace I would know that all things will be ok. We would exchange cordial hellos and how are you doing. You would know right away that something has been bothering me. You ask what’s going on. I look at you with a smile knowing you are a loving and trusting friend. With a deep breath in and out, I can feel the peace that our conversation and your hug has already bestowed upon my mind, my heart and my soul. I begin to share the things that weigh my heart down, my concerns of the upcoming days. I begin to visualize the outcomes and consequences and share them with you. You just sit there listening with your heartfelt compassion. When I am done pouring out my heart’s concerns with tears in my eyes, you look upon me and touch my hands. You wait a second before you say a word. You feel my worries through the palms of my hands. You look in my eyes and with the deepest love, you tell me to not be afraid, to not worry that my faith is strong, and I am strong. You tell me “draw from the strength of our Lord, to breathe in each moment and be present and still, for in this moment is where he is. He is not in the future where your mind is imagining the outcomes of the things to come in the days before us. Trust in your faith and the will of our God, and seek the joy and happiness of each moment in time.” Your words are so perfect, your voice angelic. I find peace in each word as you comfort my heart. A tear drops beside my coffee and glistens in the light. With the sparkle of this tear, my heart feels light. Your words and your voice were my healing delight. We continue our conversation and enjoy this time over coffee. By the end of our meeting, my face is brightened with a smile that only you could have helped me to find, with a friendship that is divine.

My Place of Inspiration

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There are two places I find inspiration to write.  One of those places is outside in nature where I can use all my senses to be present and know God surrounds me in all things.

The place I feel most inspired to write, is a quiet place. It is not a palace but it is home to a king. It is a small space, perhaps 2000 sqft. It is a place of rest and a place to just sit and listen. When I walk in, I am overwhelmed with peace. My eyes behold the presence of my king. He is adorned with the most ornate, golden attire. He waits for me as I enter, inviting me to sit and be present with him, to enjoy his peace, his comfort, his love as he embraces my eyes to adore him. I kneel before him and ask him to enlighten me with all that he wants me to hear in this present moment. He touches my shoulders and all the words swarming in my mind flow on to my paper. Words of His love, of His wisdom and His guidance, words of His peace and trust in Him, words from my pain, my sufferings and the beauty He has shown me that can exist from those ashes, all of these words flood my paper each time I am present in this place, each time I sit before Him. For in this place is death and resurrection. In this place is life itself, unending love and mercy. In this place is the body, blood, soul and divinity of my Lord, Jesus Christ, present before me in the Blessed Sacrament and in each breath of air and space. This is my place of comfort, peace and refuge. This is my place I find inspiration to write.

Heavy Burdens

pexels-photo-715414.jpegHow heavy are your burdens, the weight of the rocks you carry around daily?  Are they heavier than the cross that was carried by our Lord?  A humbling event is to pray the Way of the Cross, Jesus’ journey to His crucifixion.  As you walk along side Jesus, the way His mother did, observing every fall and every wound inflicted from the torturous hits, can you imagine the weight of the cross He carried?  Can you see the weight of each one of your rocks being added to His cross?  Perhaps when your rocks were added, He fail for the first time or may be the second time.

As I prayed the Way of the Cross, I realized how insignificant my own burdens are compared to the burdens of the entire world.  Jesus carried the weight of the entire world as He carried His cross to His crucifixion.  The weight of my cross is a small fraction of that in which our Lord carried, yet I often complain or feel sorry for my own crosses I’m asked to carry.  When I complain, I pray that they are taken away, that I no longer have to carry them.  Then God reminds me that there is sweetness in carrying my cross.  In this sweetness is victory, this victory is my relationship with Him, my reliance upon Him in the midst of carrying my cross.  When I see this victory, I feel the weight of my cross lift, as that weight is added to Jesus’ cross.  As I continue to carry my cross as the weight has lifted, I walk beside Jesus and observe every detail of His journey as this is now my journey.   I pray that I complain less about my crosses and embrace them more because this is the journey to accepting God’s will and living in unity with His desires in my life.  This is the way to sainthood.

Have you embraced your crosses with love and acceptance, or with anger and resentment?  Or have you rejected your crosses that God has asked you to carry?

An Encounter by the Creek

“We must speak to God as a friend speaks to his friend, servant to his master; now asking some favor, now acknowledging our faults, and communicating to Him all that concerns us, our thoughts, our fears, our projects, our desires and in all things seeking His counsel.” – St Ignatius of Loyola

Imagine that you are sitting under a tree, near the edge of a creek flowing into a small pool.  The water flows across each stone, one by one, moving uniquely across each stone as if it were a unique part of the creek.  The colors before you, on the side of the creek, are vivid and the sound of the water dropping into the pool sounds like a musical instrument resonating in your head.  The breeze is gentle and cool.

As you watch the water flow over each stone in the creek, you notice each stone in your own life, moments of pain and moments of peace.  As you look up from the view before you, you see this man beside you.  He is very gentle in nature.  His eyes appear to be full of sorrow, yet his face appears to be pure as the driven snow.  His eyes reveal a story of pain and of love.  There seems to be something very familiar about him but you can’t put your finger on it.

You greet him with a smile and a warm hello.  He sits beside you embracing the view before you.  His demeanor seems very welcoming.  You look into his eyes and you can feel this deep sense of trust within him, not something you would feel with a complete stranger.  As you sit with him, you feel an enormous amount of peace all around you and everything seems more vibrant and full of life.

He turns to you with gentleness and invites you to share your sadness, your joys, your thoughts, and your desires.  You feel very comfortable opening up your heart to him, you don’t know why but he feels like the perfect companion.  You begin to share your deepest desires, your deepest hurts, your fears and the moments that bring you joy and happiness.  He looks at you with love and compassion and holds out his hands so that you can feel the warmth of his love.  It is at this moment that you realize your new found friend, this stranger beside the creek is your first true love, your best friend.  He is your Lord, Jesus, listening and loving every bit of you and waiting to embrace you with his exuberant love.  Will you accept his invitation of friendship?  Will you sit with him as he gives you his undivided attention?

 

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Hope

Tomorrow is the first day of Spring. When I think about spring, I think about hope. It’s the time of year when flowers begin to sprout and bud. It’s a time of new life. We celebrate Easter, the greatest celebration of the year.

The Easter season follows Lent, a time of death from worldly things, preparing us for new life at Easter, when Jesus rises from the dead. His resurrection brings new life to each of us as He is present in each of us. Our hope doesn’t come from the world or the things in it, it comes from our inner core, our center, where Christ lives within us.

I remember a time in my life when I didn’t feel hope. That feeling was dark and cold. Each day I felt like nothing would change. I would be stuck in this place of pain and suffering. Then hope peaked through a tiny crack of light and my faith began to sprout. The world seemed different. The colors surrounding me became vibrant, the birds were no longer silent and the springs from the ground seemed refreshing.

When hope fills you, a new life and a new journey takes route, leading you to unimaginable landscapes. The walls that were built up begin to tumble and reveal stepping stones to a God who loves you more than anything and guides you closer to Him. He leads you to greener pastures, where the clouds aren’t dark and the sun shines bright, where the wildflowers dance in the fields as a beautiful tapestry of color before your very eyes. As you stand there in awe, taking in all that you can, full of hope, full of life, He holds your hand and you feel the warmth of all His love flooding every crevice of your body. That is the ecstasy of hope.

Trust in God

IMG_E1094Over the years, God has been refining my trust in Him.  My trust in myself was always greater than my trust in God.  What I have discovered is that since I had placed my trust in myself, I was in the middle of a dark storm that whirled around me and I couldn’t find my way out.  It was kind of like being sucked up into a tornado and not having enough strength to get out of the force that was holding me along the outer rim.  Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about trust and God’s will.  I don’t find myself being stuck in the tornado.  I wouldn’t say I never get sucked into it but when I do, I’m able to surrender it to God and be released from it.  Sometimes it still may take a little longer than I want but the more I practice trusting, the easier it becomes and the more I can accept the storm with joy instead of bitterness.

Webster defines trust as “an assured reliance on the character, ability, strength or truth of someone or something; a dependence or confidence placed on something future or contingent.”  Ever sat and just wondered God’s characteristics, ability, strength and truth?  Some people may say that’s simple.  He is the creator of the universe, our Father in Heaven and the Bible says “for God all things are possible,” Matthew 19:26.  In our minds, most of us know this but in our hearts and our actions, do we really?  If we fully understood, felt and knew God’s characteristics, ability, strength and truth, we would never be anxious of anything, would never ask where is God, would never be sad, bitter or angry when a storm rained down upon us.  Instead, we would embrace it all, knowing that God sees the bigger picture and He will always bring goodness from all things.  His love is present in each of those trials.  If we understood that, we would have 100% trust in Him and would always be filled with joy knowing that He will always bear the sweetest fruit from the tragedy, the storm, and the pain.

I often am disappointed in myself when I don’t trust God with the things I’m dealing with, when the weight seems too much, especially when I reach out to others before going to God in prayer.  I often look at the picture of the Divine Mercy and say “Jesus I trust in You”.  I find it is easy to say “Jesus I trust in You”, but if it is not heart felt, I haven’t truly surrendered that trust, “woe to the faint of heart, for they do not trust,” Sirach 2:13.  I’m not saying it’s easy to place 100% trust in God at all times, because it isn’t.  We are human and we will falter but life’s storms are so much easier to bear when we realize that God has it and there will be a garden of delicious fruit on the other side.

I think when we don’t place our trust in God, we allow an open space for the enemy to enter, to convince us of our selfishness and our pride and we begin to fall, to separate ourselves from God.  Our anxiety creeps in, fear of the unknown or speculation of the future attack our minds and conquer our peace, we ask why and become angry or bitter and the list goes on.  When we “trust in the Lord with all [our] heart and lean not on [our] own understanding,” Proverbs 3:5, He will guide our steps.  When we do the opposite and lean on our own understanding, the enemy directs our actions and feelings.

As I mentioned earlier, God has been refining my trust in Him.  When I was in the storm of my life, I called out to God in prayer often.  I poured out my heart and washed the anxieties away with my tears.  Each time I went through this process, God drew me closer to Him.  God prevailed in my life through each instance.  Today as I look back at my journey, God provided me with all the tools to guide my steps through my sufferings, to comfort my heart and carry me.  Every moment of weakness, I found myself knocked down on my knees and lifted with strength.  He began refining me through each moment of weakness, building my trust, drawing me closer and inviting me to have an intimate relationship with Him.  I weathered a huge storm in my life and without that storm, my relationship with God would not be where it is today.  I would not be where I am today.  As God refines my trust in Him, I am beginning to accept the storms with joy as I know that there is a beautiful landscape that will be born from the ashes and debris of the storm.  He is scraping away the impurities and lack of trust that have surfaced from the fires in my life and as the smaller storms come today, I am able to begin to embrace them with trust, joy and acceptance knowing that His will prevails in all things.  God is good and His will is perfect.  Why make it complicated, “Jesus, I trust in You”.