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You wake up in the morning, your tinnitus is screaming to it’s highest pitch.
Your body awakening from a deep sleep, which had felt pain free now understands it cannot escape as it starts to move pain shoots through every joint.
Your mind floods with every negative thought you have ever experienced.
Your ability to concentrate now focuses on your worst memory.
Your phone rings…not now you say.
You decide to clean up, there is no hot water.
You remember you gave permission for a friend (term used loosely) to use your tools, everything returned except your favorite wrench and screwdriver.
Do I need to say more?
The scripture this morning confronts us with the reality of our own desire for life.
Moses had been delegated the leader for the Israelite people. His role and now the line of authority was established, but so were the words “the buck stops here!”
His life was experiencing a sense of unrelenting anguish. The complaining, the crying even whining filled his head. Simply, he was not aware of signing up for all this harassment.
He, his faith, indeed his God, was being tested beyond comprehension.
Even the Psalmist remembers this as a moment of “historical embarrassment.”
There are times when a trap lays dormant. This trap remains a danger for anyone coming close. It isn’t long before you or others can get stuck as the influence of negativity entraps the community. The mine field deemed safe for everyone now sucks in another unsuspecting victim. A the life loses all recognition in this destructive path.
The Psalmist cries out, REMEMBER WHEN!
They were all trapped, they seemed to cling to one another, misery loved company. The Israelite people brought each other down. They became repulsive.
Years later the Apostle gives an ultimate declaration of redemption. You can escape that trap. You are invited to a different reality. Your faith can can justify you. You can have a peace that passes understandings. You can live with grace that takes you the next step. You can even boast in an awareness of an eternity with God. You will celebrate endurance, your character shall be nurtured. You shall live with hope.
The apostle once again turns our thoughts to Jesus. Paul understands in Jesus work God has chosen to create a visible magnate that draws each of us to a specific awareness. Doubt, resentment, anger, self centeredness, greed are all real. The decision and the ability to take others down a negative path is very real. Paul alerts us to a different way.
The Apostle John tells the story of a woman who had gotten caught in such a trap. In her conversation with Jesus Jesus explains to her there is an alternative. Jesus uses the illustration from the situation of her coming for water. He talked about a water that could give a satisfaction ending the frustration of a self centered life, from a life unable to deal with the short comings of life itself.
As I think of my early morning experience and how easy it would have been to turn negative, I am grateful for this reminder that I do have a choice.
I can allow all the negativity to “wreck” my life or I can “w”reckon myself dead to it and live above it. The way has been made possible, It is now the choice to move on. Have a good day, take care, be safe, and God bless.
Lord, the Psalmist is right. So much good, so much beauty, so much grace engulfs us. At the same time we are invited to close the door on the negativity that comes seeking a place in our lives. It is easy to groan, to grumble, to rest where we should not stay. Give us strength to rise up, to get out of bed, to take that first step toward the life you offer today. Indeed this is the day you offer. Enable us to live today, be glorified in all we say, all we do, in Jesus name Amen.
The Psalmist speaks about the Lord being the keeper of the way. Perhaps when experiencing the devilish pressures of something like sarcoidosis it becomes easy to get lost in the moments of overwhelming pain. It takes something really powerful to wake one up, to see there are different realities.
This morning I received an email highlighting a song. It is worth listening to especially because of the journey this young man has traveled.
https://www.facebook.com/pg/JointheJourneytoDiscovery/posts/?ref=page_internal Paul Cauthen integrates life experiences with the presence of the Gospel. Indeed, it is as if the words of the Psalmist is echoed not as something a person goes in search of but is something that engulfs the journey. The Gospel is present despite our walk. There is no turning to the right, to the left, no stepping away or running from. The Gospel is as present as the light of the day and the moon at night. There is a peacefulness in the soul to know this kind of reality. When all is said and done the grace of God is not contingent on our activity, our efforts to “fix” life. It is simply to accept Grace as a way of life. The Apostle Paul (Romans 4:5) identifies this as the work of God. A righteousness we can lean on. Wynonna sings about this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtCwb5D1uag in the song, Things that I lean On.
Jesus found himself confronted by a teacher of Israel. The discussion turns to spirituality. The imagery turns to experiencing a change in one’s person. Is it possible a person could somehow experience the necessary change to become a “whole” new person? Could they climb back into the womb and come out new. Years ago a group of us took this as a challenge and sought to see what could be done in a person’s life. We began a project to seek change in the live’s of young people who had become hardened by living on the street. They were both victim’s and victimizers of violence, addictions, misplaced priorities/directions and other forms of negative life experiences. We talked about the human gestation and developmental experiences that had taken wrong turns along the way. Through the use of volunteers, trained staff and creative community programming we nurtured turning points smothered in grace. This I believe is what Jesus was talking about. A person can have their life turned around. Even lives affected by the physical attacks of illness, the emotional attacks of instability, the waywardness of misunderstood and misdirected choices can enter the womb of the spirit and be changed. Grace can and will be sufficient.
In the liturgy of the church, today is known as Transfiguration Sunday. Matthew tells the story about an invasion of a somewhat strange and perhaps bizarre experience. Jesus takes a few of the disciples with Him to a mountain top. The voice of God is heard. An unsolicited moment happened. A transformation happened. The disciples life direction changed. They were no longer about trying to fix the world, they now had a message from God. They would become apostles. They would be sent to declare the good news of Grace.
This all has bearing on each of our lives. Every time we reflect on the changes, on and in our own lives, we can see it as a bit of us being born anew. Each time we are used to touch the world around us it becomes a part of our world being born anew.
The following pieces of music help us to grasp the gentleness of this process:
For the person with a long term illness there are many things that come easy. Denying certain realities, ignoring how our bodies talk to us, walking away from relationships, telling oneself I know better then you know me are only a few. In each case however there appears to be an accusatory notion, a blaming the “victim” mentality, or even just a sense of numbness. Illness has a way of distracting. There are often repetitive words and arguments running through one’s mind. In fact little triggers set off words, feelings, responses inside whoever is involved in working to maintain a relationship with the sick (broken) person and the caring partner (healer).
As I read the scripture for today’s meditation the image of a person laying in a bed came to mind. This person seemed to be either very sound asleep or in a near death state. Within a few minutes of a starting point the person found himself standing in the corner of a hospital room looking at himself still laying in the bed. Sitting next to the bed was his wife. She sat moving slowly forward and backward. It was as if she was hanging on yet letting go at the same time. They were both very young. They were both facing the demise of a marriage, the tearing apart of a relationship that had barely gotten started. A stage had been set and the two of them were about to live out what became a one act play. It is called the life between two people with the hope of becoming one.
Perhaps you understand.
Today’s scripture creates a list of thoughts meaningful to this pilgrimage. In Genesis both Adam and Eve are nurtured to trust God, look to God for the wisdom and understanding youth could only hope for. Acknowledge there are things that are not necessary to know or experience.
The Psalmist again brings the practical message. 32:1 happy are those who are broken. Whoa! think about that. The “break” can actually be left in the past. Youth is the time to nurture hope, experimentation, bridge building, door testing. It is a time to take some hard punches, to get knocked down with the invitation to get back up. I am convinced the concept of youthfulness is not limited to age. It is about the youthful stage of each venture, each adventure. We each face youthfulness every day.
When we ignore the desire of God, of the one who created each of us we are reminded of how the Psalmist confesses 32:3 my body wasted away. I blew it and what’s worse I ignored not only the signs of my failure but I repeated my mistakes. When will I ever grow. Now maybe you never said that, and chances are I do not want to admit it. But, 32:5 the Psalmist acknowledges that nothing is hidden. What a tragedy. It is as if our history is written in the clouds for everyone to read. There are no secrets. There is no place to hide. The human imprint has patterns and characteristics common among us all. The down side is real.
Again turning to the Psalmist there seems to be one direction. 32:7 preserve me. Words, hopes, a cry, a moment of silent recognition we each have a need. But when the need turns to a want the new life begins. 32:8 instruction becomes a way of life, a youthful start, optimism, eagerness, renewed zeal and one of the greatest motivators of all – gladness! 32:11 be glad.
The Apostle Paul theologizes about all this by tying it to Jesus. It seems humanity suffers from this immense need to always explain things. By nature humanity grows into being more and more rational, perhaps to our own demise. Yet Paul drops a bomb when he says, STOP. There is no more condemnation. There is a right way. It is found in Jesus.
Matthew is then brought into this thought process. The story is told about Jesus confronting the devil. The devil goes about challenging Jesus one more time. The devil basically asking, “who do you think you are?” “What right do you have galavanting around, strutting, broadcasting WORDS!” He might as well have said don’t you understand people are dying? You go around speaking nonsense as if you can make a difference. Yet holy men, medical men, ointments, medicines are of no use! What a crock. Go ahead make some “magic” bread and see if you can turn this world upside down.
Jesus did not argue. He responded with the beginning of a set of words. In the midst of all the pain, all the brokenness, he simply stated KNOW the word of God. Know, focus not on the temptations that offer temporary results but go to the source. Go to the WORD, get to the bottom of things. That is the starting point.
As if the devil knew he had to dig deeper in his bag of tricks he then questioned Jesus as to who Jesus was. If you are who you are claimed to be then let the angels save you. Seek the miracle! Seek the catastrophic invasion of God! Let God enter history, let God reinvent the way life happens, put your God to the test! No. Jesus rebutted. This is about a relationship of faith, a relationship based on respect, on love. Without respect, without love there is no meaning, no sense of purpose.
The devil then went to those things which has so easily tripped up many in today’s society. Jesus, look what is behind Curtain number 1, now look behind number 2, now look behind number 3, look don’t forget the grand prize! Nothing will be kept from you!
Some years ago I was asked to visit a counseling session. The person being counseled was concerned. Was this a good counselor? The session began. I listened as the person evaded a question, then another question. The counselor asked why are you doing those things. The person answered it’s as if the devil is telling me to. The counselor then said as bluntly as possible. Tell the devil to leave you alone. The person said I did. He didn’t go away. Perhaps the counselor said you need to say it stronger. I did said the person. Then I suggest you tell the devil to go to hell. Tell the devil to go home where he belongs. Perhaps it is time to reconsider your priorities and leave the devil out of this.
The story about Jesus points out three specific thoughts. One, place the Word of God as a priority. Two, do not test love and respect they are part of the foundation of a relationship. Thirdly check out your ultimate priorities.
The opening story presented the struggle of a young couple. One member dying from a dreadful disease, the other having her life torn apart. This experience is all too common in the lives of families struggling with long term illnesses. This meditation is not written to ignore the terrible events that happen in illness. It is written to be a reminder there are eternal principles that give direction to the struggle.