Posts Tagged ‘Hope’

REFLECTION: Surrender

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

 

“SURRENDER!!!?!!!!!”  Is that a command or a request?  Playing “combat” just as was portrayed on the TV program (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055666/) in our yester-years, my 3 brothers and I would run around the yard with our machine guns and whatever make believe weapons we had, attempting to massacre and force the other to surrender.  No one wanted to be overpowered and give up control to the other team because it signified defeat.

What does surrender mean in our society today?  Without realizing what we have done, many of us have obediently and have readily given in to the ways of the world without even attempting to fight.  Media, be it in paper form or radio waves, has and is moulding the world… silently prompting our ideals and lives to conform to multiple ways that bring pain and agony to the lives of multitudes.  Sadly, many don’t realize that something…  “someone” has taken control and he goes around stealthily and invisibly, planting lies into our minds and whispering thoughts that prompt us to bring more harm to ourselves.  The bait dangles right before us, promising some form of satisfaction, only to leave us trapped in a cage of self-loath, shame, agony and misery when we reach out and take the bait. (1 Peter 5:8)

Did we surrender?  NO, because surrender requires a free-willed choice, but instead, we were tricked and we often find ourselves shackled, again and again…  to the ways of the world.

“Surrender?… to whom, to what?”  To God.  Many would recoil instantly and say “No way, I enjoy my freedom, thank you very much!” Freedom?  Really?  Or are you actually caught up in snares of heart ache, not knowing where to turn?

There is an answer, a way, but many refuse to listen.  Perhaps many have to be brushed by death to realize they need another way.  Will there be time?  Hopefully, but then years of agony and suffering would have had to be endured and the loss of a healthy and joyful life would have been lost.

But there is still hope!  Even a taste of joy in a lifetime would be worth it.  “But surrender?  NO thanks, I’m still not ready.  Let me try it my way one more time.  I know I can do it.  I’ve changed my ways and I’m so much stronger and wiser…”

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life…”  John 14:6

“No thanks, I don’t need religion.” many respond.  But He doesn’t leave.  He continues to call out, gently whispering your name, waiting for you to realize and say “God, help me!”

He waits… patiently.  He doesn’t intrude nor does He force his way, even when he knows that His ways will help you through.  He waits…  waiting for you to surrender and admit, “I need Your help!”

“Surrender?  What will it cost?”  Give up your way and trust that God’s way is better.  “God loves us more than we can ever begin to love ourselves.  Do we believe that?  Do we live that?” (footnote 1)

Surrender is NOT “Okay, do whatever you want with me.”  The surrender He asks is that of Mary… “Let it be done unto me.”  It is an active desire to seek out and live God’s will.  Mary’s “yes” to God brought salvation to the world.  Our “yes” to God allows us to be instruments of salvation for our families, the world and ourselves.

It is not a surrender of fear or self-interest.  It is a response to a loving invitation to a journey towards eternal life.  It is a life-giving surrender.  As you daily surrender to our Father’s will, you will discover the joy of totally giving of yourself to the One who has totally given Himself to you.  It is a surrender into a relationship of trust and love.  Jesus will never leave you or forsake you.  (Deuteronomy 31:6) He will lead you and guide you (Psalm 32:8) and He promises to give you His peace. (John 14:27)

Will you surrender?

God bless,

Melissa – November 27, 2013; 10:31 a.m.

 

p.s.:

1) Reference:  Introduction to “Surrender!  Life Changing Power of Doing God’s Will”
by Fr. Larry Richards

2) Praying through Ephesians 1:16:

Father God, we ask for a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of You.  We ask You to enlighten our eyes so that we will know what is the hope You have called us to.  Lord, help us to embrace and use the immeasurable greatness of Your power in us who believe in You so as to make a difference in this world. In Jesus’ name we pray, AMEN.

REFLECTION: He found me…

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

Last Sunday, I dropped our youngest off to the airport so she could participate in a week long Encounters With Canada program in Ottawa.  Each of the kids have gone off on their own for one activity or another in the past, but this time it was different.  With a husband in the orient and another youngster living in a dorm, a large void suddenly arises when the youngest leaves, even if I still have a faithful one at home keeping me company.

Monday found me floundering a bit until I came across an e-mail, sent by a faithful friend.  Karl normally forwards the Ransomed Heart daily readings en masse at the end of the week.  Surprisingly he forwarded one at 8:42 on Monday morning, just as if he knew it would lift me.

And so I share…  

“February 8, 2010
God Pursuing Us

What is God like? Is his heart good? We know he is the initiator from first to last. As Simon Tugwell reminds, God is the one pursuing us:

So long as we imagine that it is we who have to look for God, we must often lose heart. But it is the other way about; He is looking for us. And so we can afford to recognize that very often we are not looking for God; far from it, we are in full flight from him, in high rebellion against him. And He knows that and has taken it into account. He has followed us into our own darkness; there where we thought finally to escape him, we run straight into his arms. So we do not have to erect a false piety for ourselves, to give us the hope of salvation. Our hope is in his determination to save us, and he will not give in. ( Prayer)

When we feel that life is finally up to us, it becomes suffocating. When we are the main character, the world is so small there’s barely room to move. It frees our souls to have something going on before us that involves us, had us in mind, yet doesn’t depend on us or culminate in us, but invites us up into something larger (beyond myself / ourselves… and into the larger realm of others – my interpretation). And what about the Romance and the Arrows? It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Once upon a time we lived in a garden; we lived in the place for which we were made. There were no Arrows, only beauty. Our relationships weren’t tainted with fear, guardedness, manipulation, quid pro quo. Our work was rewarding; we received more than we gave. There is beauty, and we so long for it to last; we were made for the Garden. But now there is affliction also, and that is because we live East of Eden. The Arrows seem like the truest part of life, but they are not. The heart of the universe is still perfect love.

( The Sacred Romance <http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r=53297291&msgid=731989&act=X0I1&c=328627&destination=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ransomedheart.com%2Fp-12-sacared-romance-the-hardback.aspx> , 81–82)”

Comfort immediately poured over me as I realized I didn’t have to look for company.  The Father knew I was going to feel abandoned and lonely ahead of time, and as if it was planned just for me, he prompted Karl to forward an e-mail to remind me that I am not alone, and He was pursuing me.  (Thanks Karl for saying “yes” to that prompting.)

With that comfort, I was able to stand and shake off the doldrums and self pity and lively activity filled my day. (I cleaned the mold lined deck with brush and running water!  Now that’s activity!)

So, if anyone should ask why I believe in God, I can point them to this… incidental (likely to happen or naturally appertaining) to some, but grandiose to me… because GOD persued me and He found me!

God bless,

Melissa – February 10, 2010 / Wednesday

p.s. – May the Father’s pursuit find each of us in His loving arms.


REFLECTION: What if I was wrong?

Saturday, February 6th, 2010

 

A few days ago, I sent an e-mail out with several links to earthquake safety.  I felt it was important for everyone to be prepared when the big earthquake came.  Unfortunately, the original e-mail which remained at the bottom contained numerous inaccurate information and I had forgotten to delete it.

The following day, I received an e-mail from one of my recipients and he unknowingly was forwarding the inaccurate information I had sent earlier. My heart raced in fear as I realized the danger I could have put others in by sending out misleading information.  I would be so devastated if many had lost their lives in an earthquake because I was wrong.

As I reflected on this throughout the day, I sensed the Father asking me what would happen if I shared inaccurate information about my faith.  I cringed in fear at the thought of the eternal devastation and damnation I would have brought forth on others.

I then remembered the song “What if?” written and sung by Nicole Nordeman.  A fan wrote “I saw her in concert and she said she wrote this song to a dear friend of hers that relied on his knowledge and intellect to convince himself that God did not exist. She was telling him it is so much more than facts and data which proves/disproves Jesus actually lived.”

And so I share…

“What if”?” Written and sung by Nicole Nordeman.

What if you’re right?
And he was just another nice guy
What if you’re right?
What if it’s true?
They say the cross will only make a fool of you
And what if it’s true?

What if he takes his place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends
What then?

But what if you’re wrong?
What if there’s more?
What if there’s hope you never dreamed of hoping for?
What if you jump?
And just close your eyes?
What if the arms that catch you, catch you by surprise?
What if He’s more than enough?
What if it’s love?

What if you dig
Way down deeper than your simple-minded friends
What if you dig?
What if you find
A thousand more unanswered questions down inside
That’s all you find?

What if you pick apart the logic
And begin to poke the holes
What if the crown of thorns is no more
Than folklore that must be told and retold?

You’ve been running as fast as you can
You’ve been looking for a place you can land for so long
But what if you’re wrong?”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zOyoR3oKs0&feature=related <- music video clip

What if I was wrong about my faith in Jesus?  Would I have lost anything because I believed that He would give me freedom to live my life to the fullest?  Without any hesitation, my answer is a definite “NO”.    As I examine and reflect on my life, I clearly see how much richer my life has become as my walk with Jesus has grown.  I have found reason to live and I receive hope when troubles come or when I am in despair.  If I had a chance to live my life all over again and I had one wish for that life, I would choose to have Jesus in my life from the very start.

As I continue to reflect, my thoughts bring me back to the morning I passed out in the shower several years ago.  I was in the depths of deep depression and anxiety was at its peak.  I recall asking the Father not to leave me because if He did…  The thought was never completed  because my world went completely black and I lost consciousness.  I am not sure why I passed out, but it appears as if my mind could not handle the possibility of His absence in my life.

May the Father open our spiritual eyes so we can recognize and accept the Truth that sets us free.

God bless,

Melissa – February 5, 2010

p.s. – 1 Peter 3:15 – But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

REFLECTION: How will they wait?

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

This morning I came across the comment of a Vancouverite doctor who performed numerous surgeries in tragedy stricken Haiti.   She said “It will take a long, long time for them to rebuild”.  As her words slowly sank in, the memory of make-shift tents built in close proximity to each other, which I had seen on the news, resurfaced and I deeply pondered over how each family would make it through the weeks,months and perhaps…years?

As I plowed through Fr. Jacques Phillippe’s book, Called to Life, answers seemed to jump up to life.  I quote randomly as I jump forward and backwards through the first two chapters…

“God’s very first gift is human life!… It is understandable that people often have difficulty in welcoming life as a gift.  Life brings sorrow,sufferings and disappointments.  Sometimes we feel that it is more a burden than a gift… But even with its trials and sufferings, life still is a gift.”

“Live!  I want you to live! (Ezek 16:6-13)  Here is the first and the most fundamental call to us from God.  When life seems too hard to bear we must hold tight to this word, will to respond to the call, choose to live and welcome life as it is, with all its burdens and sorrows.  In the end, this confident acceptance bring us to see life as an immense gift.”

“Many people have made this choice to believe in life despite their suffering… Note that this means We must “chose all”, as St. Therese of Lisieux said.”

“Etty Hillesum (a young Jewish woman who died at Auschwitz in 1943) expressed the same thoughts:  I am having an ever-stronger experience these last days: in my least daily actions and sensations a hint of eternity creeps in.  I am not the only who is tired, sick, sad or anguished.  I am united with millions of others across centuries.  All that is what life is made of.  Life is beautiful and full of meaning in its absurdity if you know how to take it as a whole.  So life in some sense or other forms a perfect whole. As soon as we refuse or wish to eliminate certain elements, as soon as we follow our own pleasure or caprice by accepting one aspect of life and rejecting another, then life becomes in effect absurd.  Once the sense of the whole of it is lost, everything becomes arbitrary.”

“To a disturbing extent, contemporary Western culture has largely lost sight of these truths.  It has difficulty recognizing the real value of every life, supposing instead that life is only worth living if one is rich, young, healthy, successful in everything, a potential subject of a fashion magazine cover.  Handicap, old age, and suffering rob life of value.  Yet fortunately the Church, faithful to the Gospel, ceaselessly proclaims the value of all life, even those lives that do not conform to society’s current idea of success.” “God calls us to freedom.  But instead of being given to us instantaneously and in full measure, this freedom is built up progressively and patiently day by day, by being faithful to God’s calls… Through pride, human beings refuse to accept life and happiness from the Father’s hands, with confident and loving dependency, preferring to be the source of life for themselves. …Looking for happiness not to God, but to ourselves, we feverishly seek it in things like riches, pleasure and fame.”

“Openness to God’s calls frees us from pride… Openness to God’s calls helps us escape the pitfalls of desire.  God redirects desire towards goods better able to satisfy us than those we lust after.  And this openness frees us from fear.  By being open to God’s calls, the believer receives encouragement and strength that empower him to rise above his fears and break out of the narrow circle of inadequate coping strategies by which people too often attempt to handle fear.

“...God’s calls do not always involve the whole future panorama of one’s life.  Sometimes one is called to take just a single step –‘nothing except for today,’ as St. Therese of Lisieux said.  But it is enough to live and advance a day at a time, finding meaning in existence and persevering until one receives the grace to see more. In fact it is better that we not know the future but discover it step by step.  We are tempted to imagine that security lies in mastering the future, but the reverse is true: the more we confidently entrust the future to God, without trying to know it or master it, the more secure and peaceful we are.”

My prayer is that Haiti’s suffering will not be in vain.  I earnestly pray that as they wait, each will hear and answer the call of the Father, to live each day to the fullest, one moment at a time.  As each hand reaches out to another, may the whole nation stand stronger than it has ever been.

As I completed my Bible study this morning, I came across this verse…

“In His great love, God will restore and rebuild, cleanse and heal.  Their weeping will be turned to shouts of joy.  Best of all, God will make a new covenant with His people….This is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord.  I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. They will all be forgiven, and all will know the Lord.(Jeremiah 31:32-33)

May we all claim this scripture as a prophetic word for Haiti.


God bless,

Melissa –
Feb 2-3, 2010

REFLECTION: Impossible dream?

Wednesday, January 20th, 2010

Years ago, I attended a seminar by the author of “Ragamuffin Gospel”.  I don’t recall his name at the moment, but through the years, memories of who he was continues to resurface to entertain and to trigger my thoughts and reflections.  If I am not mistaken, he was a Pastor who was an alcoholic.

At that time I believe he had not touched alcohol for an extended period of time, but he still referred to himself as an alcoholic.  He described how devastating and incapacitating the physical, mental and emotional withdrawal was like.  In my mind’s eye, I can still see his arm extended, supported by his other hand, while his whole body shivered and then shriveled into a fetal position.  His words, his tone, and his actions allowed me to visualize the anguish of an alcoholic in withdrawal.

He referred to alcoholism as a wicked disease which would shackle him for a life time. Regardless of his extended victorious years over alcohol, a glimpse towards a bar could lead to his destruction.  The wisdom he had learned through repeated failures would not permit him to have another taste of liquor because he knew all too well that one sip could lead to another devastation.

His story then shifted to Aldonza, the prostitute in Man of la Mancha, whom Don Quixote preferred to call Dulcinea.  She repeatedly questioned Don Quixote as to why he called her “My Lady”.  Deep within her soul, she saw herself as a tramp, a forsaken prostitute, while Don Quixote treated her with such respect and called her his lady. 

What did Don Quixote see?  Although many considered him insane because he attacked windmills with his lance, the man was able to look beyond his lady’s brokenness and see the beauty that God had originally planted when He created her.

Once again I wonder what today’s reflection will conclude with.  I have only read one and a half pages of the first chapter of Fr. Jacques Philippe’s “Searching for and Maintaining Peace” and as the day before, my reading comes to a halt.   I realize that whenever I come across a deep, profound concept,  like a cow, I need to regurgitate on what I just read until I can totally digest the concept so that the “nourishment” can easily penetrate my mind and my soul.

With your permission I quote what I have underlined…

“…apart from Me, you can do nothing, Jesus said (John 15:5).  He didn’t say “you can’t do much”, but, “you can do nothing.”  It is essential that we be persuaded of this truth.  We often have to experience failures, trials and humiliations, permitted by God, before this truth imposes itself on us, not only on an intellectual level, but as an experience of our entire being.  God would spare us, if He could, all these trials, but they are necessary in order that we should be convinced of ever complete powerlessness to do good by ourselves… It is, in effect, a necessary prelude to all the great things that God will do in us by the power of His grace.  This is why St. Therese of Lisieux, the Little Flower, would say that the best thing that God could have done in her soul was “to have shown her her smallness, her powerlessness”.

“…How can I let Jesus act in me?  How can I permit the grace of God to freely operate in my life.  We should aim, not principally to impose a lot of things on ourselves…  Rather, we must try to discover the disposition of our soul, the profound attitude of our heart and the spiritual conditions that permit God to act in us.  It is only then that we could bear fruit – fruit that will last (John 15:16).”

I would like to think that Don Quixote remained with God.  I assume that his struggle through the difficulties and trials in life “polished” him so that he developed the supernatural ability to see beyond the surface and to recognize the beauty within Dulcenea’s heart.

I would also like to think that the author of Ragamuffin Gospel (Brennan Manning… I googled it) remained with God and through his own trials, he developed the supernatural ability to recognize and to point out the beauty in another so that we, in turn, could experience the same.

Manning ended his talk by playing the beautiful song “Impossible Dream” sang by Don Quixote in the musical Man of la Mancha.  I quote the lyrics…

“Impossible Dream
Lyrics by Joe Darion <- In this song, Quixote explains his quest and the reasons behind it … in doing so, he captures the essence of the play and its philosophical underpinnings. (For me, it is absolutely magical.)

To dream … the impossible dream …
To fight … the unbeatable foe …
To bear … with unbearable sorrow …
To run … where the brave dare not go …
To right … the unrightable wrong …
To love … pure and chaste from afar …
To try … when your arms are too weary …
To reach … the unreachable star …

This is my quest, to follow that star …
No matter how hopeless, no matter how far …
To fight for the right, without question or pause …
To be willing to march into Hell, for a Heavenly cause …

And I know if I’ll only be true, to this glorious quest,
That my heart will lie will lie peaceful and calm,
when I’m laid to my rest …
And the world will be better for this:
That one man, scorned and covered with scars,
Still strove, with his last ounce of courage,
To reach … the unreachable star …”

Whenever I listen to this song, memories of Brennan Manning and Don Quixote come to mind.  In my mind’s eye, through God’s grace, these two worked beyond their brokenness and their lifetime dreams, which were once upon a time impossible, have become POSSIBLE and they have made a difference in this world.  The reason?  Because…we ” CAN do ALL things through Christ who strengthens (Phil 4:13)” us.

God bless,

Melissa – January 20, 2010