LENT DAY FIVE: Robust in Love

You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift… 

No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are an easy mark for impostors. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.

Ephesians 4:4-7,14-16 (The Message)

‘Robust in love’ – I like that. A prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me today to remain robust in love for those around me and for those far away. Help me to be robust in love for myself and, especially, robust in love for You. I can never give to You what You give to me. Help me to stop trying to repay You for what You have done! May we, Your children, all grow up healthy in mind and in spirit and may we always walk in Your ways, following Your footsteps where the need is greatest. May love reign above all. Thank you for the gift of love, and for the gift of prayer. Thank you for the gift of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Hear our prayers. In Your blessed name I pray, thank you Jesus.

Amen

Reasons to be Cheerful


Yesterday Fluff played volleyball after school and hurt her thumb. She managed to cycle home and then drooped listlessly into the kitchen where I was baking. The nearest Accident & Emergency is about 20 miles away, so there was no question of Frank taking her. Driving is something I find really tiring, but I managed to get her there. We waited for two hours before she had an x-ray, then waited another half hour to be told there was no fracture, it was just a soft tissue injury. The kindly doctor advised me to keep her dosed up on paracetamol and ibuprofen. We didn’t get home until gone 9. I was shattered and went straight to bed.

As we were driving home I was trying to distract Fluff from the throbbing thumb. I asked her to list 10 things for which she is thankful. This is what she came up with:

1. A nice mummy to take me all the way to the hospital even though I didn’t break anything this time – not like poor Cassie at school who has been taken into foster care 😦

2. A nice bed to sleep in.

3. Always enough food, and always good food.

4. Moving house soon!

5. A daddy who works very hard so that we can have a new house (this might have been prompted by mummy…)

6. Going to a good school.

7. Friends at school.

8. The beautiful sunset (one advantage of children hurting themselves in the summer is that the drive home was still in daylight).

9. Having a lucky sister! We shared a smile over this one. Chip won a ‘design an Easter egg’ competition. She drew a lovely sunset and three empty crosses in silhouette, with underneath an angel shouting ‘He’s alive!’. Then last week she won a prize draw I didn’t even know about. Apparently if you re-enrol at the sports centre you are automatically entered into a raffle and Little Miss Charms-her-way-through-life won a huge sack full of garden games, just in time for the summer!

10. Living in England where it’s nice because you’re able to go to the hospital whenever you need it and it’s free.

 

I was proud of her for this little list – and more so of the fact that, once we were home, the pain seemed to have lessened… or maybe she just realised how thankful she is.

The latter parallels my own experiences. For me, if the negative thoughts begin spiralling in my head and I can’t stop them, thinking of all I have to be thankful for is a great way to extinguish those ‘fiery darts’. Being thankful and expressing thanks to God is a way of holding firmly to my faith, just as Paul says in his letter to the Ephesians. He knew the Christian life is not easy, and he knew that faith gives hope and hope enables us to carry on, even when we have nothing left but faith.

<aside: Incidentally, I wonder if  this is what is known by contemplatives as the ‘dark night of the soul’? The moment when, after a long struggle, all I have left is faith?>

Frank said only yesterday how far I have come, despite still waiting for treatment for PTSD. I have grown so much stronger over these past few years – and this is not a strength of my own, but my ultimate weakness surrendered to God. It’s not my strength. This is grace.

 

‘…be strong — not in yourselves but in the Lord… Put on God’s complete armour so that you can successfully resist… For our fight is not against any physical enemy… We are up against the unseen power that controls this dark world… Therefore you must wear the whole armour of God [so] that you may be able to resist evil in its day of power, and that even when you have fought to a standstill you may still stand your ground. Take your stand then with truth as your belt, righteousness your breastplate, the Gospel of peace firmly on your feet, salvation as your helmet and in your hand the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Above all be sure you take faith as your shield, for it can quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at you.’

Ephesians 6:10-17 (JB PHILLIPS)

Even when we have to fight to a standstill – till our last breath, our last drop of strength before exhaustion hits – we still have God. The love of God never fades. The love of God defeats all evil. Thank you, Lord. You turn every last thing on its head. Hallelujah!