Today we went to a funeral and I met a young man I hadn’t seen for fifteen years. I received a wonderful blessing from God when I heard about his new life. We had walked together with his grief, and today he has joy. Once again he thanked me for my help in the past. Once again I experienced the privilege and honor of being part of another persons pain and joy. God’s call to me to serve through loving my neighbour was amazing. Saying yes, has filled my cup to overflowing. I am truly blessed.
Yesterday’s Bible was titled Jesus Calls the First Disciple (Mark 1:16-20). Even as a teenager this simple well known passage always presented problems for me. After all, what self-respecting fisherman would just drop his nets, give up his livelihood and take a chance on an unknown itinerant preacher. With some research and some thinking, I began to see this scene with new eyes. First of all, Simon, Andrew, James and John were probably Jesus’ contemporaries and maybe even his friends. Chances are they had heard Jesus preach often. Together they may have laid plans for travelling together. Often when we read the Bible, or any news story, we get the end result of a long process. Probably the hardest part of leaving to follow Jesus, would be accepting this Jesus whom they had known for a long time, as their leader.
In the church we use this passage to talk about following Jesus today. Can we answer God’s call? What is God calling us to do? Most of us tend to clutch tightly the net of our lives as they are. Our fingers are entwined the nets webbing and we struggle with letting go.
I remember my call to write, publish books and tell stories. First, God pushed me to tell stories as a break from the regular sermons I was preaching each week. Then my congregations pushed me to gather my stories together for publication. I thought about that and prayed about it for several years. Finally, I took half a step, let go of the net with one hand, and accepted a part time position so I would have more time to write. Five years later I was ready to let go both hands and move into this new ministry of writing. For some of us it takes many years of hearing God’s call before we finally relinguish our hold on our lives and say yes to God. When the yes finally comes, suddenly it feels as if we have literally just dropped our nets to follow Jesus. It is only then that this scripture passage makes sense. Although the process was long, interesting, and often challenging, the final yes just blends it all together. In many ways we feel as if God called and we dropped our lives and followed.
This morning I read Deuteronomy 6:1-12. It reminded me to remain focused on God, in all that I do and think. Love God, your God, with your whole heart: love God with all that’s in you, love God with all you’ve got. That sounds so simple, and yet it is profoundly difficult. Like everyone else I get focused on what I am doing or worrying about and I leave God behind. With something as simple as preparing a meal, or walking the dog, we can forget God.
Every morning for several years I read from a book titled “Simple Abundance”. One of the best meditations spoke of preparing your family’s meal as an act of worship. This is what I gleaned from that reading. As I peel the potatoes, I need to ask God to peel from my being all the mistakes I have made this day, all the times I have lost my patience, been cross, wished I were somewhere else. My prayer is, “As these potatoes cook, God, cook your love into me that I might be tasty nourishment for my family and friends. With each item I prepare for tonight’s dinner Lord, I offer you a prayer for someone I love deeply.” Preparing a meal can be an act of love for God and for others if I want it to be. It requires God’s help, God’s reminder.
Living with my focus on God, requires intentionality, at least at first. Like everything else, we get better at it with practice. One thing I have learned over the years is that remembering God in all I think and do brings God’s peace into my life.
When I first started this blog I planned to write a daily reflection on scripture or some other thought or event. So today, I am stepping onward to that purpose. This morning I focused on Psalm 16. It is a Psalm of celebrating life with God. Today, these two lines stood out for me.
“You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is joy.”
Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed. I see all the stuff I want to do – write, sell my books, enjoy my family and husband, play with my friends, support anyone I know who is hurting, care for myself physically and mentally…the list is endless. So this morning I prayed, “You show me, God, you show me what you want for my life. Lay out my days.” or as this Psalm says, “You show me the path of life, God. In your presence there is joy.”
Jesus said,”I am the way…follow me…and I will give you rest.” What was Jesus’ pattern? What is Jesus’ way? Immediately into my mind comes, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind, and love your neighbour as yourself.” Jesus clearly said that all people were our neighbours, not just the people like us. And so I say to myself this morning, I will love and care for all people, one at a time as I encounter them. I will love my wonderful grandchildren and the ‘brat’ at the library, church, school…who won’t sit still, won’t listen, continually pokes and pushes the other children. I will love the teen I see volunteering at the hospital and the teen that throws stones at the streetlight just to hear the glass break. I will love my long time neighbour and the Moslem stranger the world has taught me to fear. In doing this I will become aware of God’s presence and experience joy, not happiness necessarily but joy. Joy because for a few moments I will have let go of myself, my fear, my judgment, my anger and I will have rested with God.
These are the thoughts I wrote this morning as part of my daily prayer time. I offer them to any who wish to read.
Home is wonderful. Framed by my dining room window are vivid splashes of gold waving in the wind against the glistening black tree trunks. The rain has made everything more vivid. God’s amazing creation is magnificent. Each morning Tom and I give thanks to God for the privilege of living in this place.
Note from Connellsville, Pennsylvania
We had a short time at home before we were on the road again. This time we were called south of the border to Connelsville, Pennsylvania. The mother of my bestfriend, (a fifth sister)died on Tuesday evening. We got here Monday night. Already it’s Saturday night, and we’re leaving for home tomorrow. I’ll write more about this trip tomorrow.