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Thursday, January 8, 2015

the way, thrusday

Thursday, January 8

Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.
Opening Prayer: May those without hope take heart in you, O Christ.  May those with no home find shade at your right hand.  May those near the end see beginnings; may those at the last become first.  At the foot of your cross, O Christ, I come in prayer.  O Christ, be my help, O Christ, be my hope.  Amen. (Pamela Hawkins, Weavings Volume XXVI, Number 2)

Scripture Reading for the Day: Jeremiah 6:16

Reading for Reflection:
     What does it really look like to live life with God?  Well, Jeremiah 6:16 gives us a great hint.  And it all starts, strangely enough, with the word stand.  In other words, it starts by stopping.  Stand.  Be still.  Be present—fully present—first to God within you and then to God around you.  In other words, just show up.  I believe it was Woody Allen who once said, "Eighty percent of life is just showing up."  In our case that means showing up with God and then showing up with others.  That's where it all starts.
     The next thing is to look. Stand at the crossroads and look.  Pay attention.  Look for God.  Look deeply for him in whatever, or whoever, might be in front of you at the moment.  Look past the surface.  Look into the depths.  Search.  Seek.  Seek him in all things.
     Then we are told to ask.  Specifically, to ask God.  Ask God, "What are you up? What are you up to within me?  What are you up to around me?  What are you up to in this circumstance?  What are you up to in the life of the person in front of me?”  Ask.  Ask for the ancient paths.  The ancient paths are those well-worn paths that lead straight to the heart of God.  Those paths that multitudes of other saints, poets, and pilgrims have traveled well before us.  In fact, whenever we see someone walking deeply and intimately with God we need to take note of it because that person has found these ancient paths, and watching them can show us the way into the heart of God.  Solitude, silence, prayer, scripture, etc., these are the things that form the good way. 
     And notice that, up until now, we still have not moved.  We are still in one place (stand, look, ask) seeking God's heart, mind, and direction.  And it is not an easy place to be, or an easy thing to do, because our default mode is movement.  Our norm is don't just stand there, do something.  We tend to operate (whether we like to admit it or not) out of a "ready, fire, aim" mentality.  Which, in all likelihood, leads to a significant amount of wasted motion.  Our default, it would seem, needs to change more to a “don't just do something, stand there” mindset.
     And finally, once we have stood and looked and asked, it is time to move.  Walk in it is the phrase Jeremiah uses.  Walk in the good way, whatever that may mean.  For, once we have received our direction and guidance from God, it is time to enter into whatever he is doing.  It is time to move toward him (and his work) whatever that may be, whatever that may look like.  Sometimes it will mean speaking a word he has given us to speak and sometimes it will mean keeping our mouths shut.  Sometimes it will mean simply being present and sometimes it will mean reaching out to embrace.  Sometimes it will mean offering bread to the poor and sometimes it will mean receiving a gift from a loved one.  But whatever it is, we can be sure of its power, substance, and authenticity because it has come directly from God’s heart and not merely our own.
     And, in the end, the result is both delightful and incredible: you will find rest for your souls.  No longer will we live life exhausted and overwhelmed, but instead we will be energized, renewed, and engaged by the winds of God's Spirit.  Thanks be to Him!

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself
Closing Prayer: Forbid it, O Father, that the difficulty of living well should ever tempt me to fall into any kind of heedlessness or despair.  May I keep it ever in mind that this human life was once divinely lived and this world once nobly overcome and this body of flesh, that now so sorely tries me, once made into Thy perfect dwelling place.  Amen. (A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie)

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