A Vow of Silence.

I have always been a bit of a chatterbox.  When I was a child I know I wore my parents out with my constant questions.  And I think it is fair to say that I loved the sound of my own voice.  As an adult that tendency toward speaking often has definitely been moderated, but I will always been someone who loves to chat with people. I’m fairly certain it’s hardwired into my DNA.  Even my times of communion with God, my prayers are more about me speaking.  I couldn’t even begin to understand how monks and people could take a vow of silence.  (Not that such a vow is common these days)

But my readings today got me thinking about the power of words and the importance of being still and listening.  And I thought that it is probably those monks who are most like me, who take those vows.  So that God can not only speak to them in the silence, but show them just how important words are.

We spend our words freely these days.  We value the quick wit, the witty come back, the burn.  But what if everyone in the world took a moment and paused before they spoke.  One of my friends has an expression which I have stolen and use often with my own children, “words are like toothpaste, once you squeeze them out of the tube, you can’t put them back”.  Good advice and definitely worth remembering.  What if we all decided that we would use our words to build people up instead of tearing them down. What if instead of responding in the heat of anger, we responded in the warm of love?

I have certainly been guilty of the above at various times in my life.  As a general rule, I try to make disagreements about communicating my feelings and listening to the other persons, but that doesn’t always happen, and I can easily call to mind one right now.

Sarah Young writes in Jesus Calling  “Pause before responding to people or situations, giving My Spirit space to act through you.  Hasty words and actions leave no room for Me; this is atheistic living.  I want to inhabit all your moments — gracing your thoughts, words and behaviors.”  I want that too.  That is the point of this journey I’m on, to become closer to God, to trust in Him, and to live the life He calls me to live.  To trust in Him, and not on my own understanding.  But when we speak without thought, we aren’t really communicating with those around us, we are simply reacting.  And we definitely aren’t trusting in God in those moments.

Certainly in our lives there are people to whom we are more inclined to stop and listen; people we respect or love, maybe it’s your boss, your parent, your best friend.  But there are also those people who we are quick to speak over; maybe its our siblings, children, strangers.  I know that if I am going to hold myself to a higher standard, if I am truly listening to the Spirit of God inside me, then I need to give everyone the same respect; the same freedom to express themselves, and to be heard.  Maybe we should all take a vow of silence today.  To see and not be seen, to listen and not speak, to stop and be still.  We might be surprised at the new ways God is able to be active within us.

God bless,

Meredith

Afraid of too many blessing?

Last night as I was getting ready for bed I had this moment in which I just felt completely the entirety of God’s blessings in my life.  And then I paused, and felt a moment of fear, because I couldn’t imagine that this could continue.  I have lived so many years waiting for the next shoe to drop, and it always does eventually.

But that fear was a trick.  Yes, we will all experience the pain of loss and rejection and defeat throughout our lives, but we have a choice.  We get to choose if we are going to live our lives grateful for each blessing of each day, buoyed up by God’s enormous love for us.  Or we can chose to walk a darker road; one on which we see demons and shadows lurking around every corner. A road of fear.

It seemed completely appropriate that this morning I would read this devotion by Sarah Young in Jesus Calling“Sometimes the relationship I offer you seems too good to be true.” Why yes, that’s exactly how I was feeling last night, Lord.  “I pour My very life into you, and all you have to do is receive Me.  In a world characterized by working and taking, the offer to rest and receive seems too easy.  There is a close connection between receiving and believing; a you trust Me more and more, you are able to receive Me and My blessings abundantly.  Be still and know that I am God.”

There was my answer.  The more I trust in God, the more I am able to receive His blessings abundantly.  And I do.  I trust in God’s plan for my life in a way now that was impossible for me in the past.  As I have worked on developing my relationship with my Heavenly Father, I have come to a new and deeper understanding of Him and His role in my life. And I am finally able to trust, and understand that, in those times when I walk through the valley of darkness, He will be there with me.  Truly, only He has the power to make even the darkness a blessing.

Can you feel God pouring his blessings into you life today or is your fear preventing you from believing and receiving?  If death had no power over Christ, who gave His life for us, how much more will He do for you, His beloved child? You just have to let Him.

You can never hear this song too many times.  “Fear is a liar”.

God bless,

Meredith

Befriending your problems.

I read this today as part of my devotions and it just felt to true that I felt compelled to share it.

“Every problem can teach you something, transforming you little by little into the masterpiece I created you to be.  The very same problem can be a stumbling block over which you fall if you react with distrust and defiance.  The choice is up to you, and you will have to choose many times each day whether to trust Me or defy Me.    The best way to befriend your problems is to thank Me for them.  This simple act opens up your mind to the possibility of benefits flowing from your difficulties.  You can even give persistent problems nicknames, helping you to approach them with familiarity rather than dread.  The next step is to introduce them to Me, enabling Me to embrace them in My loving Presence.”  — Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

I wrote yesterday about my sorrow over the death of our beloved family pet.  But as my day progressed I became more and more convinced our journey that day with Bailey was perfectly scripted by God.  I used to say all the time that I just wanted to come downstairs one morning and find that she had drifted off in the night.  I wanted it to be easy.  But if that had happened, Everett wouldn’t have had the time to lie on the floor with her and tell her that he loved her.  Isaac wouldn’t have been able to cuddle her one last time, and she would have died alone, instead of being held in the arms of the people she loved and who loved her.  She was fine Sunday morning as we headed off to church.  When we got home, she had three seizures, each 2.5 hours apart.  It wasn’t a difficult decision to make.  She was old, she was tired and finally her body was failing her…it was time.  Yes, I spent yesterday feeling sad, but also so incredibly loved and blessed by God.  He gave us a perfect end with a perfect dog.

Thanking God for my problems or sorrows is not something that comes easily or naturally to me.  I often struggle with feelings of sorrow or depression.  It’s hard to thank God for feeling low  a day after you’ve felt amazing.  As recently as four months ago I have railed at him for it.  Asked him what I was doing wrong, accused him of not being the loving Father he claims to be.  It doesn’t matter that every month I know I’m going to have a few days like that, I hate it.  I hate feeling that way when I know that there is an alternative, and how great that alternative feels.

But over time, and with prayer, I feel God working on me, and today’s reading is another reflection of that.  God has shown me over and over again in my life how much he cares about me.  That he is always working for me, and he absolutely answers my prayers.  This past few months when I had a difficult day, I cried out to God.  I spent time in prayerful meditation.  The name of Jesus has power and some days that was all I could bring myself to say, over and over again.  Jesus.

I can feel God working in me; changing me and my perspective on events in my life.  I love that today he reminded me that it is always about choices.  That I need to continue to choose him in those difficult times.  I also love the idea of giving my persistent problem a nickname (although I might have to ask the kids for help with that one).  I love the idea of naming it and then every time it visits, just handing it over to Jesus.  As written by Sarah Young  “I will not necessarily remove your problems, but My wisdom is sufficient to bring good out of every one.”

God has done this for me so many times in my life, how can I fail to trust him?  Do you have a problem that needs a nickname? One that God is calling on you to give up to his embrace?

God bless,

Meredith