Scripture Reading: Luke 15: 20b–24
In the famous parable of the prodigal son, Jesus’ description of the father gives us a glimpse of what it looks like for us to be emotionally mature adults. The church is full of “younger sons” who wander from the love of God every time he does not meet their expectations. It is also full of “elder brothers” who are angry, bitter, and grumpy. I know them both well. I relate to both. Yet people are desperately looking for fathers and mothers in the faith who are able to embrace, love, empathize, be present, and forgive freely. It is a love without conditions, something the world knows very little about. To become this kind of person does not come naturally.
As Henri Nouwen has written:
I have to kneel before the Father, put my ear against his chest and listen, without interruption, to the heartbeat of God. Then, and only then, can I say carefully and very gently what I hear. I know now that I have to speak from eternity into time, from the lasting joy into the passing realities of our short existence in this world, from the house of love into the houses of fear, from God’s abode into the dwellings of human beings.
Father, help me to be still and listen to you, feel your embrace, and rest in your love—and then to speak to others from that place. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Just a thought about prayer in extremis.
When we get into Gods presence at the end of our tether and stripped bare of all pretence, prayer is not fluffy and pretty.
It’s attritional bloody gut wrenchingly honest warfare against the powers and principalities. It’s about getting down and dirty and real.
The love story of God’s pursuit of us is wonderful. Our only natural reaction is for our hearts to turn violently inside our chests, an outpouring of deepest joy from the core. And when we get His love for us, it consumes us. There’s no time or need to dwell on our past sins or shortcomings because God’s love and grace cover all of time.
The prodigal son was dirty, smelly, and covered in filth. But when he was a long way off, his father ran to him, probably sweating along the way – adding even so to the mess of the ensuing embrace.
In light of this new perspective on love:
He loves us!
Oh, how He loves us!
Oh, how He loves us!
Oh, how He loves!
2 Corinthians 4:7-12, 16-18
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
When we are hard pressed on every side, perplexed or struck down could we get down on our knees and go to Jesus?
Lord, everything in me kicks against going to the foot of the cross where you will root out of me all that is not of you.
Help me not to fear the “deaths” it will take for me to be transformed into a free person who loves you and others well.
Have mercy on me, O Lord. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tomorrow afternoon I’m due to take part in a Methodist church service of rememberance for those who have recently died. The central message of Christ is that suffering and death bring resurrection and transformation. Jesus himself said, “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds” (John 12: 24 NIV1984).
Lord, after his loss, you gave Job prosperity, blessing him with twice as much as he had before, but that has not always felt like my experience.
Grant me patience.
Help me to trust and wait on you, especially in those areas of my life where I have no idea what you are doing, when my hardship will end, or where you are taking me.
In Jesus’ name, amen.
LamentationNever read this book before, it’s a bit grim but there is hope contained within.
It so much reminds me of ISIS and Syria, does nothing change?
Lamentations 3:25, 28
God proves to be good to the man who passionately waits,to the woman who diligently seeks.
It’s a good thing to quietly hope,quietly hope for help from God.
It’s a good thing when you’re young to stick it out through the hard times.
When life is heavy and hard to take,go off by yourself. Enter the silence.
Bow in prayer.
Don’t ask questions:Wait for hope to appear.
Don’t run from trouble.
Take it full-face.
The “worst” is never the worst.
Lord, I acknowledge that I prefer to ignore and deny my pain and loss.
I struggle with seeing how resurrection life can come out of death.
Grant me the courage to pay attention to what you are doing, and to wait on you—even when everything in me wants to run away.
In Jesus’ name, amen.