Saturday, December 3, 2011

Week 1 - Day 1 - "The Bible Tells Me So"

Daily Reading:  Deuteronomy 8: 1-11, Matthew 4: 1-1, John 5: 36-47, and 2 Timothy 2:15

So this is the beginning of my newest attempt to deepen my relationship with God.  I was wondering how to start.  My new book helped.  It has a section outlining spiritual disciplines, and one suggestion was centering prayer.  It says to find a place where you can be silent, close your eyes, and then spend about 20 minutes just focusing on a word that helps you meditate and and pray.  Whenever you find your attention straying, focus on the word.   I found a egg timer, set it for twenty minutes and began. Today's word for me was hope.  Why hope?  Because this is a hard time of year for me.  I miss my parents terribly (especially today, having taken Christmas wreathes to their graves); and I want so much to be able to celebrate this Advent season and to prepare my heart to celebrate the birth of Christ.  So anyway, with every breath I took in and exhaled I thought and prayed the word - hope!  And after a while with each breath came not only that word but prayers of hope not just for myself, but others as well.  And as I let go of outside sounds and distractions, I actually felt that for a few moments I was actually in communion with God, and I truly felt better than I had all day long.  I didn't feel so lonely as I had during the past week.

Then I was ready to read today's scriptures and reflect.

  • What does God promise when we follow instructions from the Bible? - He promises to stay with us, feed us, comfort, help us, and love us.  And I know throughout time he has done that.  The bible is full of stories about people who have experienced His presence and his love, even when they disobeyed the instructions in the Bible.  Forgiveness is a part of the relationship too.
  • When has scripture come alive for you in hard situations, temptations, or trials?   How would you describe that experience? 
I remember when Daddy died.  I was 18 and angry that God had taken the person I loved most in the world.  I had prayed and prayed that God would heal him of his cancer; and my childish understanding of prayer was that whatever you asked for God would give you.  How could I believe in a God that wouldn't give me what I wanted?  At that moment it was like falling into a dark pit, and for the next six years I refused to ask for God's help, because I didn't believe he was listening to me anymore.  So I tried and tried to climb out of that dark pit of despair all by myself, but I couldn't.  I scratched and clawed at the walls of my self-made pit, and all that I accomplished was to pull more dirt and darkness down around me.  My despair actually got so bad that I packed a suitcase, emptied out my bank account, got in my car and drove away from mom's house intending to disappear and never come back because I didn't think I had anything to offer her or anybody else.

I drove for about 70 miles before I stopped at a hotel for the night.  I turned on the TV for noise and stretched out on the bed.  The station that was tuned in on the TV when I switched it on was playing a show called "Don't Ask Me, Ask God."  And at the point I turned it on, they were telling the story of someone who had suffered a loss much like mine, and they were talking about the despair that had taken over their life.  It sounded so much like my own story!  As this person concluded their story they told about someone who had reached out to them and offered love, acceptance and prayers for healing; and they told how those prayers had helped them to begin to let go of their pain and despair.  At the end of the story Pat Robertson, who was the show host,  said something like  "if you are out there right now, lost and alone, you can say this prayer:  God, I feel so alone, and I don't want to feel like this anymore.  Please send your Son to help me."  I found myself praying this prayer...over and over again, and then suddenly I felt another presence in the room with me..and I heard a voice saying "Walk with me, and I will walk with you."   And I knew that Jesus was there, and I did feel better than I had in almost six years of despair.  I was able to walk over to the phone, call my mom to tell her that I was alright, that I would be home in a couple of days.  And I spent those couple of days walking on the beach, talking to God, and beginning to accept that God had never left me, but I had walked away from him.

Sometimes now I get distracted from that knowledge, but He always finds someone or some way to let me know my life is not just mine, but his as well.

Lord, be with me now as I struggle to let go of my loss once again.  Help me to embrace this season of hope and love.  Please help me to show your face to the world through my words and deeds.  Amen.

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