Nothing gives the soul more satisfaction than
when God calls upon it for his purposes.
Someone in your life needs to hear this.
My fingertips scrape against the bread
that cringes and cracks as each solemn
soul reaches out to tear its piece.
Her shaking hand pulls the bread
with urgent need as our eyes meet and I whisper
“the body of Christ” into the air between us.
She can’t break the bread
and my hand touches hers,
offering quiet help, silent prayer.
Now, two hands on the bread,
we rip, a piece is loosed, and then
suddenly we remember.
Hello! I have been writing on this blog for just about a year now and decided last week during an extended time of solitude and reflection that it’s time to chart a new course. I have renamed the blog “Moments of the Soul.”
There are moments in which eyes catch and hands graze, where God reveals his majesty and grace through intricacy, and where something causes me suddenly to lose my breath. In these “moments of the soul,” I feel most alive and most connected to God. So, my blog will be my way of capturing, through words and images, these incredible, breath-taking moments of experiencing the presence of God.
Thanks for transitioning with me! Look for the first post tomorrow!
His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and
He has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
(as he said through his holy prophets of
salvation from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us –
to show mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath he swore to our father
to rescue us from the hand of our
and to enable us to serve him without fear
in holiness and righteousness before
him all our days.”
What does “redeem” mean?
Why did God come to redeem us?
To __________ mercy to our ancestors;
To _______________ his holy covenant;
To _______________ us from the hand of our enemies; and
To _______________ us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness.
Do you live like you have been redeemed – like you have been rescued and like you have been enabled to serve God without fear? Or, do you live like you are still waiting to be rescued and enabled?
Thank you, Lord God, for coming to redeem us! Thank you that you have redeemed me – that I am now in your hands, bought back, rescued, freed, and able to serve you without fear. Forgive me when I forget and live as if you never came, as if you never purchased me with the blood of Jesus. Forgive me when I act out of fear or wear my old rags instead of the righteousness of Christ. Help me get back on track when I get fuzzy on the mission – to serve you. You redeemed me so that I am able to serve you. I live to serve you, Lord. Use me. Empower me.
Based on John 10:27, we know that those who hear God:
Last week I explored having a relationship with Jesus and this week, I’m exploring what it means to be receptive to hearing from him. The best way for me to understand this is to think about conversations with my daughter. What comes to mind is the difference between trying to have a conversation with her at the airport as we are about to get on a plane and trying to have a conversation with her at the beach while we are on vacation.
At the airport, I am pulling my suitcase and carrying a backpack and my purse. There are people rushing all around us to catch their flights. I’m trying to find our flight number on the big electronic board so we can get to the right gate. We arrived at the airport a little late and so we are in a hurry to make it in time for our seating area to board. The flight is a couple hours and we don’t have anything to eat. My daughter’s hand is in mine, but I’m practically dragging her, forcing her little legs to keep pace. If, in the midst of all this, she were to start a conversation with me, I would be distracted, half-listening and looking away, as I continued to chart our course to the gate, perhaps missing a word here and there, and asking her to speak louder so I could hear her over the noise coming from every direction.
On the beach, we are alone. The sun is rising and we can hear every step on the damp sand. We carry nothing, simply walking hand-in-hand, breathing deeply, with nowhere to be. I can feel the shape and temperature of her hand. When she lets go to throw a rock into the water, I feel the last touch and sudden emptiness. I notice she has a tiny scratch on her cheek and that she has grown taller. When I hug her, I flash back to the moment I held her first. If she were to say something, it would be effortless for me to listen, I have been so in tune with her already. I could look at her full-on and there would be nothing pulling me away. I would absorb every word and all the feeling behind each one. I would be able to respond with love and the fullest attention.
So much of hearing God is about getting out of the airport. Most of us live there – metaphorically, I mean. We rush around, distracted, fists wrapped around our baggage. I most often hear God when I’m in the busyness of life, but only because I have been with him in the slowness of time. Here are some things I do to be receptive to hearing God no matter where I am:
Have you heard from God? What were you doing?
Is there something you could take out of your schedule so you can make time and space to hear God?
I keep this piece of paper taped to my computer at work and on my wall at home. It’s small. Only I can see it. But I really need it. I need to read it on the days when I have a deadline, or run from meeting to meeting. I need it on days that feel overwhelming in a much bigger sense – like when tragedy happens, or a friend is hurting. I need it on days that are calm and open and on days when my heart is breaking.
I came up with these statements one day after reading Stephen’s speech to the Jewish authorities in the book of Acts just before he was stoned to death. The speech is one of the most incredible recitations of God’s redemptive plan in Scripture and ends with words that call followers of Jesus to a certain type of living that is revolutionary:
When they heard [Stephen’s speech], they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. ‘Look,’ he said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.’
At this, they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him…
While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.’ Then he fell on his knees and cried out, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them.’ When he said this, he fell asleep.
Stephen is near the top of my list of people I would love to meet one day. He was bold in speaking the message of Christ. He stood on the truth in the face of death. He forgave the people who dragged him on the ground through the city and threw stones at him until he died. He stayed connected to Jesus, holding onto him right through to his end. He was unafraid even as he spoke to authorities and knew it was likely he would be killed. He committed his spirit – all that he was – to Jesus.
I’m not going to face what Stephen faced in my lifetime. Most of us won’t. But, I want to live like he did in my context – with my family, with my friends, and in my work.
What about you? Do you need a sign on your computer or wall? What would it say?
Mondays can be hard, getting back to work and all. But they hold such possibility, days stretched out ahead. I want my Sunday to roll right into my Monday and on into my Tuesday, and so forth. I don’t want to live for Friday, waiting out the long hours of the other days, just hoping to make it. So, although I’ve got a to-do list for this week that could take me a month to work through, I’ve added these six things at the top of the list:
I’m expecting to encounter God today. Every time I have an encounter with God, whether it is through another person, in Scripture, in nature, or within my own heart, it surprises me. I cannot make God respond to me or answer a prayer, but somehow, when I walk in the world with my eyes up instead of buried in my thoughts or my smartphone, I can’t help but see him all around me. I expect to encounter him today.
I’m reading Scripture out loud to myself. There are some things I need to remember when I start a day (and a week) because each day seems to start with new insecurities about who I am and whose I am. Today and each morning this week, I’m reading Romans 8:1-2 out loud to myself because I need to hear it:
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.
I’m asking: “What would love do in this situation?” I will probably see and talk to about 10-15 people today. In each encounter, I will ask myself: “What would love do in this situation?” And, whatever the answer, I’m doing it.
I’m carrying around one of Jesus’ questions. Jesus asked many questions of the people he encountered during his time on earth. I’m writing one down today and setting it as the background picture on my phone. It’s from Matthew 9:28: “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” Every time I look at my phone, this question will be there and pull me forward.
I’m praying for other people. So many people come to mind during a typical day. Each time one comes, I am acknowledging them before God: “I lift Amy up to you, Lord.”
I’m thanking God. I am thanking God for my daughter and for the smell of the air today. How they have blessed me!
What’s at the top of your to-do list?
Scripture to consider:
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you likely remember a specific moment in your life when you first understood the message of God’s grace. You can still recall the way something in you broke open at the realization that you could stop all the effort and work you were pouring into cleaning up your life in order to be accepted by God. The heaviness you had carried for so long suddenly lifted when you grasped the notion that God already accepts you, the non-cleaned-up you, as you are, and because of his inexplicable mercy toward you, considers not your merit or efforts, but the merit of the blameless, perfect Jesus Christ.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you likely also remember that after you came to understand this gift of grace and freedom in Christ, you had the sense that everything had changed. Your life would never be the same. You would seek God in all that you did, you would follow him wherever he led, you would be the light of the world and the salt of the earth.
But over time, perhaps even without you noticing, this fire you felt at the beginning began to cool, and now, you are not sure what you would say if asked: What does Jesus have to do with it? Any of it. Your life, your spouse, your children, your aging parents, your sexual desire, your drinking, your late nights in front of your computer, your friend who was diagnosed with cancer, the decision you face at work, the co-worker who never meets your eyes in the hall, the homeless guy on the corner, your Facebook posts. What does Jesus have to do with any of it? You are pretty sure you know how to explain what Jesus has to do with your afterlife, but beyond that, you wonder. Maybe you knew at some point, but you’ve lost your way. Maybe you can answer it sometimes and not others, depending on the day.
The answer to this question matters to me. If I can only answer it when it comes to Sundays at church or what happens after I die, I think I’m missing the abundant life and freedom to which Jesus calls me and which I have tasted and know is good. I don’t want a work life, a home life, a church life, a social life, and a spiritual life; I want an integrated life, one in which Jesus Christ is at the center and in whom all things in my life hold together. But there is no switch to flip and no button to push to make this happen easily. I’m moving ahead anyway, though, and this blog is dedicated to figuring out how to do it. Would you join me? By hitting the “Follow Blog by Email” button under my picture, you can!
Hey, by the way, how would you answer? What does Jesus have to do with it?
Scripture to consider: