Reblog: What the Book of Job Really Means

Excellent post from Tim Fall about the book of Job.

I remember a well-meaning friend saying to me, when I was talking about the horribleness that I was experiencing at that time, if I had read about Job. I looked at him, frowned, and asked if Job had read about me.

Laura is absolutely right. No matter how much one might end up with, it can never take away the deep and lasting sorrows. But having gone through those sorrows and surviving and still loving God brings about a faith of a different kind – a spiritual maturity maybe? It means you’re not dependent on life being good to thank God for His blessings. You know that God is always good. God is always. God is.

I’m struggling right now. Had my EMDR session this morning and it was a bit like being hit by a tidal wave. It’s inexpressible, frankly. But I do know that God is good, and that God has always been good, even through every sad or bad or mad or terrible experience. God was never remote and distant – He was with me. I know that. And my sorrow, my sorrows, *all* of our sorrows, He shares. He gives us beauty for ashes. This is why we mourn on Good Friday and celebrate come Easter Sunday. Hallelujah!

Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another

I can’t say I know all about the Book of Job, but I think I know a bit about it and here’s one thing I know:

The Book of Job reveals God’s grace.

Some will dispute this, saying the book instead reveals a cruel God who uses Job as a pawn in a game played between God and Satan. Here’s how they might characterize the opening scenes: God asks Satan where he’s been lately, Satan says he’s been out cruising through the world here and there, and God asks if Satan has happened upon Job.

Satan Before the Lord, Corrado Giaquinto (1703–1765) (Wikimedia) Satan Before the Lord,
Corrado Giaquinto (1703–1765)
(Wikimedia)

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8.)

Job is described as a man who cared for his…

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Lent: Being

God formed Man out of dirt from the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life. The Man came alive—a living soul!

Genesis 2:7 (The Message)

Spring is in the air, like God breathed and the whole world burst into life. Garden daffodils wave their bonny heads. The wood pigeon coos from the branch of a still-bare silver birch. The sky is blue, well there are at least blue patches amidst the grey (in England the sky is more often grey than blue). Tiny green buds have appeared on the baby cherry tree that Frank planted last year. For the first time this year I have hung washing on the line. I love the way the wind moves through the trees and idly spins the rotary airer. The clothes almost take on a life and energy of their own.

I suppose we’re a bit like that. It is God’s breath that makes us move, and His spirit that makes us move with purpose. Sometimes when I think of the Holy Spirit I hear a soft wind blowing. In the God-breathed blowing there is life – life in all its fullness. God is around us and in us, just as the air is around us and in us. I am not the air and the air is not me. I am not God and God is not me; but God is part of me and I am part of Him.

“…God who made the world and all that is in it, being Lord of both Heaven and earth… has created every race of men to live over the face of the whole earth. He has determined the times of their existence and the limits of their habitation, so that they might search for God, in the hope that they might feel for him and find him—yes, even though he is not far from any one of us. Indeed, it is in him that we live and move and have our being…”

Acts 17:28

Lent: As the Father has Loved

‘1968. Jerusalem. Brother Andrew had spent a decade visiting the church in Communist lands. He had built a team to help him. But the success of God’s Smuggler meant he was now too well known and could not return to those countries. A visit to Israel brought him face to face with the conflict between Muslim, Jew and Christian in the Middle East. He read again Christ’s messages to the church in Revelation. ‘To him who overcomes…’ [Revelation 3:7-13]

“But most of the churches in that letter had not ‘overcome’. They no longer existed. Individual churches could die… I knew then that my mission was to seek out the living church in the Middle East, learn about her condition and needs, and do whatever I could do to strengthen her.”

The core of Brother Andrew’s message is love. “Here’s what we need to remember: I Sincerely Love All Muslims.” Or ISLAM for short.’

from Open Doors email

as part of the Step of Yes series

Amen. ‘I Sincerely Love All Muslims’ – ‘Islam’ for short.

*********

This morning I had a cup of tea brought to me by my wonderful husband. The mug containing the tea was printed with the words ‘Love was His meaning’ over and over. How amazing  – no, how beautiful – that I should be sipping my tea from that mug and reading the above from Open Doors. A gentle reminder that God is good when times are good and God is good when times are bad.

‘Would you know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who showed it to you? Love. What did he show you? Love. Why did he show it? For love. Keep yourself therein and you shall know and understand more in the same. But you shall never know nor understand any other thing, forever.’

from Revelations of Divine Love

by Julian of Norwich

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.

John 15:9 (NRSVA)

Lent: Prayer and Meditation

Cornish Daffodils – Happy St. David’s Day. Spring is in the air!

‘As most certainly the way to please God is to keep the commandments and counsels, let us do so diligently, while meditating on His life and death and all we owe Him. Then, let the rest be as God chooses. Some may answer that their mind refuses to dwell on these subjects and… this to a certain extent is true; you know that it is one thing to reason and another thing for the memory to bring certain truths before the mind. Perhaps you may not understand me, possibly I fail to express myself rightly, but I will do my best. Using the understanding much in this manner is what I call meditation.

Let us begin by considering the mercy God showed us by giving us His only Son. Let us not stop here, but go on to reflect upon all the mysteries of His glorious life, or let us first turn our thoughts to His prayer in the garden, then allow them to continue the subject until they reach the crucifixion. Or we may take some part of the Passion, such as Christ’s apprehension, and dwell on this mystery, considering in detail the points to be pondered and thought over such as the treachery of Judas, the flight of the Apostles and all that followed. This is an admirable and very meritorious kind of prayer.’

The Interior Castle ~ St. Teresa of Avila

Addendum: The following is a paraphrase of the above in more accessible English (I imagined communicating the same ideas to my daughters).

The best way to show our love for God is to try very hard to keep His commandments and do what He teaches us through the bible. As we do this, we can also give thought to Jesus’ life and death and everything He did for us, and we can think about how our lives can and should be different now that we belong to Him. Don’t worry about trying to achieve more than this, though. Let God show you where to go and what to do next. I know some reading this will be thinking that they find it hard to keep thinking about these things, which is fair enough. Our minds don’t always stay focused on what we’d like them to stay focused on. However, when we do make use of our hearts and minds by thinking about these things in this way, this is what is meant by ‘meditation’.

Here are some ideas to get you started: first, think about God’s great mercy when He gave us His only Son. Then move on, considering all the amazing things in Jesus’ life. Another way to begin might be to think about Jesus’ prayer in the garden of Gethsemane before He was arrested, then you could imagine the actual arrest and Judas’ betrayal and how the disciples all ran away. Thinking about these kinds of things in this way is not only a type of prayer but a very beneficial kind of prayer.

Any thoughts on either the words from St. Teresa, or on my paraphrasing?

Inner Critic?

Excellent post from Pam Hogeweide this morning. Really hit the nail on the head for me!

As I said over on Pam’s blog, my inner critic points fingers at me. She is very worldly. She says I’m broken and useless. Didn’t have a normal childhood or teenage years so must be worthless. Illness and abusive marriage must have somehow made me ‘less than’. Inner critic (Inga Crittick?) says the world laughs at me because I didn’t get my A-levels (the exams one takes at 18), didn’t go to university like my peers, never had boyfriends, first-ever boyfriend became abusive first husband, stuck with him for 10 miserable years because I didn’t have the common sense to leave, haven’t had a job since I was 21…

She’s very worldly, isn’t she? God says I’m His precious child (hallelujah!!!) but sometimes I listen to her without even realising it. She’s so sneaky… She says that nothing I do is good enough unless I’m the best or unless I do it perfectly or unless it will ‘get me somewhere’. What kind of a screwed up b***h is she? I don’t like her! Why on earth do I listen to her?

 

Jeremiah’s inner critic said he wasn’t ‘enough’, but God said:

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew [and] approved of you [as My chosen instrument], and before you were born I separated and set you apart, consecrating you…”

Then said I, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I cannot speak, for I am only a youth.”

But the Lord said to me, “Say not, ‘I am only a youth’; for you shall go to all to whom I shall send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak…”

from Jeremiah 1:5-7 (Amplified)

Mary, Jesus’ mother, thought she wasn’t ‘enough’, yet:

‘…the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee named Nazareth…

But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled and disturbed and confused at what he said and kept revolving in her mind what such a greeting might mean.

And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found grace (free, spontaneous, absolute favor and loving-kindness) with God…”

from Luke 1:26-30 (Amplified)

And Jesus Himself said:

“…if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.

“We are intimately linked in this harvest work… Accepting a messenger of God is as good as being God’s messenger. Accepting someone’s help is as good as giving someone help. This is a large work I’ve called you into, but don’t be overwhelmed by it. It’s best to start small. Give a cool cup of water to someone who is thirsty, for instance. The smallest act of giving or receiving makes you a true apprentice. You won’t lose out on a thing.”

from Matthew 10:39-43 (The Message)

What does your inner critic say to you? When he or she tries to tell you you’re not good enough, remember Jeremiah, remember Mary, and remember Jesus’ own words: start small. You’re always good enough because He made you. God doesn’t make mistakes. You won’t lose out on a thing. 😀

Enough

It snowed this morning, soft and silent. Made this urban landscape tranquil and beautiful. I was reminded of how God provided for the Israelites after they escaped Egypt.

The Lord said to Moses, “Now I am going to cause food to rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day…

…The Lord said to Moses, “…in the morning they will have all the bread they want. Then they will know that I, the Lord, am their God.”

In the… morning there was dew all around the camp. When the dew evaporated, there was something thin and flaky on the surface of the desert. It was as delicate as frost. When the Israelites saw it, they didn’t know what it was and asked each other, “What is it?”

Moses said to them, “This is the food that the Lord has given you to eat. The Lord has commanded that each of you is to gather as much of it as he needs…”

The Israelites did this, some gathering more, others less. When they measured it, those who gathered much did not have too much, and those who gathered less did not have too little. Each had gathered just what he needed.

extract from Exodus 16:4-18 (GNT)

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Snow in the garden of our lovely house.

Watching the snow, I was reminded of how God IS, in the good times and in the bad times, how He made Himself a man; a man who walked and talked and ate and slept and did everything like an ordinary man – and yet:

“I am telling you the truth,” Jesus replied.

“Before Abraham was born, ‘I Am’.”

John 8:58

God loved us so much that He became one of us. I find myself continually asking ‘why?’

After the ‘why’, just ‘thank you’.

After the ‘thank you’, ‘what must I do?’

‘I ask you, God… let me be neither rich nor poor… give me only as much food as I need. If I have more, I might say that I do not need you.’

from Proverbs 30:7-9

EMDR 6: God Reveals Himself Piece by Piece

This Beloved of ours

is merciful and good…

This voice of his

is so sweet

that the poor soul falls apart

in the face of her own inability

to instantly do whatever he asks of her…

hearing him hurts

much more than not being able to hear him…

his voice reaches us

through words

spoken by good people,

through listening

to spiritual talks

and reading

sacred literature.

God calls to us

in countless little ways

all the time.

Through illnesses

and suffering

and through sorrow

he calls to us.

Through a truth

glimpsed fleetingly

in a state of prayer

he calls to us.

No matter how half-hearted

such insights may be,

God rejoices

whenever we learn

what he is trying to teach us.”

~ St. Teresa of Àvila, Interior Castle

Sweet Jesus,

May I never seek to be more.

May I never believe I am less.

May it all be for your glory.

Amen

Thoughts on the Nature of Being His

Following the reblog of the previous post, here are a few thoughts of my own:

‘Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but [always] Yours be done.’

Luke 22:42 (Amplified)

Sometimes the wind of God blows us where we would not choose to go, but still we are willing to let Him blow us where we can serve Him best. Such is love, given and received.

Sometimes we hear (or read) talk about blessings in our lives as if God is some sort of omnipotent Father Christmas. I’m annoyed when my children treat me as if I’m nothing more than a means to an end, so I can only imagine how God feels when we say we love Him, but we treat Him like some sort of heavenly slot machine where if we just add another tuppence the whole lot will fall into our laps!

In those times we forget that everything that comes from God is good. We make a mockery of the gospel when we only thank God for our blessings in the ‘good’ times, as if God’s blessings come only in one form. What a hollow faith it is that only resounds with God’s glory when it has been given enough, or more than enough. What kind of faith is it that pats itself on the back and says, like the nursery rhyme, ‘he stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum and said ‘what a good boy am I!’ We’re supposed to be child-like, not childish. There is a difference.

Faith is for today and tomorrow, just like the ‘daily bread’ we ask for when we pray as Jesus taught us. Faith is for all that has gone before, and all that is to come. Life following Jesus is following His example in all things. Sometimes, this means miraculous blessings

And sometimes it means following Him through the dark times:

[Jesus] said… “Simon, son of John, do you love Me [with a deep, instinctive, personal affection for Me, as for a close friend]?” Peter… said to Him, “Lord, You know everything; You know that I love You [that I have a deep, instinctive, personal affection for You, as for a close friend].” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.

“I assure you, most solemnly I tell you… when you grow old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will… carry you where you do not wish to go.”

He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. And after this, He said to him, “Follow Me!”

From John 21:17-1

Reblog: Alienated Somewhat on Both Sides

Brings to mind a quote from Julian of Norwich ‘What is He indeed that is maker and lover and keeper? I cannot find words to tell. For until I am one with Him, I can never have true rest nor peace. I can never know it until I am so close to Him that there is nothing in between.’

Oh, the pure, sweet scent of Jesus! It lingers on the air like the fragrance of roses in summer… but we can never quite get close to it.

Contemplative in the Mud

How happy I should be if I were as deeply and closely united to God as I am distanced and alienated from the world!
Saint Francis de Sales

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Reblog: A New Leitmotif on an Aeolian Harp

‘God said to me, “Mortal man, prophesy to the wind. Tell the wind that the Sovereign Lord commands it to come from every direction, to breathe into these dead bodies, and to bring them back to life.”

So I prophesied as I had been told. Breath entered the bodies, and they came to life and stood up.’

Ezekiel 37:9-10 (GNT)

In Hebrew the Holy Spirit is the ‘ruach hakodesh’ רוח הקודש (thank you, wikipedia) which is something akin to holy breath or holy wind if I recall correctly. Sometimes I think I hear it.

Contemplative in the Mud

Father Garrigou-Lagrange

The grace of the virtues and the gifts makes the just soul, as it were, an Aeolian harp which, under the breathing of the Holy Spirit, gives forth the most harmonious sounds, the sweetest as well as the most brilliant, the most piercing as well as the most solemn. As a new leitmotif, which at first is imperceptible and distant, little by little rises, approaches, envelops us, and ends by dominating all, so the mysterious harmony of the Gift of Wisdom rises in our soul. Its superhuman mode scarcely appears at first, and then in rather a negative manner by the disappearance of the human mode of thinking. As Saint John of the Cross says (Ascent of Mount Carmel, Bk II, Ch 11–13; Dark Night, Bk I, Ch 9), meditation becomes impossible or impracticable; the soul has no desire to fix its imagination on any particular interior or exterior object; it is…

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