What do I need and what is just ‘stuff’? During Lent this year a cousin spent much time and thought disposing of ‘stuff’, things that had piled up and were no longer used. Since our circumstances have been severely altered through the past almost 3 years, I look daily for anything that helps to simplify our daily life. Little by little some things have gone. Big things like Rick’s feeding tube and small things like wound dressings that no longer are needed. Even in the past few days, we gone from needing 5 or 6 cases of bottled water a month to a counter top water processor to make alkaline water. Way, way better than cases of water. Open the tap, and it comes out without chlorine or floride and gives us clean clear filtered alkaline water. All the heavy lifting and twisting off lids is GONE! My wrists and hands are happy. I am sure the friends who has picked up water cases for us, out of their love and kind hearts, are also glad that now they visit without labor. They have so willingly labored for us and we are so very grateful.
As I look around, there are many things we no longer use or need…an occasional trip to the Salvation Army store with a load is on the agenda, almost weekly. Memories are valuable, but saving every little piece of paper and card can become overwhelming. We don’t take any of our ‘stuff’ with us when we this place (earth). What do we actually need? Think about the refugees who leave everything in hope of a better life. They take only what they need and walk off into an unknown future. Most of them make a life again and begin to gather ‘stuff’. I don’t want anything that will hold me here when my time comes, no desire for ‘stuff’ can keep me from rejoicing in that glorious day. I want to be fully weaned from this world and I’m starting now.
One of the things that has to be done is processing food for Rick to eat. It must have a good consistency, no lumps or little things that can cause him to choke. He loves cream of asparagus soup. So do I. I have tried making it from scratch but can’t always find it fresh in the store. So I use canned asparagus. I open the can and pour it into a large glass measuring cup. Then I wash my hands and fish around with my fingers in the asparagus until all the little woody pieces I can’t squish, that will not process, are removed. Today’s batch was about a 1/4 cup of hard as a rock pieces. Then I take a stick blender to it. After that there are the stringy things. I clean all the ‘string’ pieces off the blender, wash the blender again and then I can make soup.
Today as I was making the soup…my mind turned to spiritual thoughts on ‘life is like asparagus soup’. There are lots of hard, difficult, woody, tough things that come along in life and we must pick our away around them. Even then there are the stringy things left that aren’t as visible but also need to be sorted out and dispensed. We can’t do it on our own. We need those who recognize the hard stuff and let them help. God sends us our family in Christ to work out the tough and difficult with prayer and support of all kinds. I know, we have been recipients. But then there are the little pieces of life with hidden strings that can hang us up. Only the Lord Jesus can process them out, much like the blender. Sometimes whipping the daylights out of us to find them, so they don’t choke us.
I am grateful for asparagus soup teaching me another small lesson about the great love of the Lord which never ceases.
Lamentations 3:22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Every morning Rick and I read several devotionals by various writers, and a couple more at noon. Then we also listen to either Bishop Robert Barron or Pastor Jack Hayford. All of these folks are all over the denominational map, but all have insight into God’s Word and years of experience following the teaching of Jesus, the writings of the disciples, Paul, and the saints that have followed.
We are encouraged by both Bishop Barron and Pastor Jack that WE ARE SAINTS! We have committed our lives to follow the teaching of the Bible and in particular the two greatest commandments given by Jesus in Matthew 22:36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
When these points follow through in our lives we hit the jackpot, find the gold at the end of the rainbow…gain eternal life. When we commit our life to Jesus Christ we are ‘saints’…not perfect or more special than anyone else, but have the capacity to make a difference in the lives of those around. I’m always searching for the ‘gold’. The golden words that encourage and lift up others and with great hope and prayers to bring them to an intimate relationship with Jesus.
Cast your bread upon the waters…
This odd scripture has fascinated me, for a lifetime…you never know where that bread is going to end up. You just do what you can and somehow it makes sense in the end. As Rick and I talked at lunchtime about it today, it again set me thinking and pondering . I know that Jesus is the ‘bread of life’ but He is also the ‘river of life’ flowing out of us.
Verse 1 talks about casting the bread on the water, verse 2 about giving to others because we don’t know what is going to happen in the future. Then verse 3 gets weird and talks about rain falls when the clouds are full and it doesn’t matter where or how the tree falls in the woods, it will lie right where it falls. (seems common sense to me) Verse 4 tells me that idle dreaming will cause you to not gain a crop (be poor if you don’t work). Then verse 5, tells me Solomon thought long and hard about the creation of human beings and the miracle of birth, seriously. Verse 6 is right up my alley…I sow seed and don’t know which seeds will take and grow, but I do it. In the end, the bad gets tossed into the compost and the harvest gets shared with my neighbors and friends. Which brings us back to verse ONE.
Cast your bread on the waters…the water may look like a stream that went underground and the bread has disappeared, but it may have actually only temporarily gone underground, then on to a deep well or spring, and on to a river and then to the oceans. This is all a metaphor to me of our witness for Christ. We put it out there, toss it on the water so to speak, where it goes we don’t know, but we do it. We keep doing it. One day we will see what God has done in the secret places. In the womb of this world, He may be creating something that will bring a bountiful harvest of souls for His glory. We must remain faithful to ‘cast it on the waters’…
Today I learned something new again. If you don’t know the process, things -whatever you are attempting-gets bogged down, delayed, off track and completely derailed at times.
I learned that sending your doctor a ‘release of medical records’ signed and faxed, does not mean it actually will get done. You have to send it to and call the ‘Medical Records’ department. How does this figure into our spiritual life? If you don’t know the process you can’t get anywhere.
If you don’t ‘read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest’ scripture, you can’t possibly know how to live rightly. God created us and gave us a manual. If we don’t read the manual, we can’t put it together. Sometimes when I buy something mechanical or electrical that needs putting together, the information sheet contains sketchy information or processes/language with which I am unfamiliar. I have to look up a word or a process to understand how to put it together. But if I want it to work for the reason it was created, I MUST read the instructions and understand them.
That is about all I have to say on that matter…
Raised in a denominational church in which all prayers except for the ‘Our Father’ were extemporaneous, caused me to think that written prayers were ‘not so hot or acceptable’. I had heard prayers with the repetitious ‘oh God’…and thought ‘He knows we’re speaking to Him!’ None of us speaks with our friends or family like that. We look at them, get their attention and say “Hey, this is on my mind.” Or better yet acknowledge their presence and, “Do you want talk to me?”
God said, “This is my beloved Son, listen to Him.”(Luke 9:35) yet we walk right in without a greeting with our requests and don’t acknowledge His presence in the conversation. Through out Lent this year I have been using written prayers ‘exclusively’. I believe getting to the point in confession is putting me ahead of the problem of ‘listening to Him’. It gets to the point. Greeting God, our Father, in Jesus name; stating my clarified short intention and then listening for the forgiveness, encouragement, correction that is needed to help me hear and obey better.
I absolutely LOVE the written prayers of the saints down through ages. There was real repentance and gratefulness. Having the prayer in written form gives a firm focus and helps to inform and reform my thinking. It’s not like reading the word of God, but it brings me into tune with Him, so when I read the scriptures, I get what it is saying to me, most of the time. (Deuteronomy 6:6“These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”)(Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.)
Reading scripture and written prayers, along with the thoughts that are running around in our heads to talk about, is a good way to “LISTEN”…pray and obey! Hoping and praying your Lenten season is spiritually profitable.
When waking today I realized that although most of the time it seems that things are going well, even in the midst of trying circumstances. Then Lent comes along and the time spent in reflection and the evening ‘Examen’ tend to shine a brighter light on the dark spots. Confession daily had become a bit complacent, but during this time I feel like it’s a constant apology for my bad behavior in attitude. Bitterness, anxiety, critical attitudes show up like weeds in the spring grass. The fruit of the Spirit seems like a distant encouragement.
(Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.)
It’s difficult to actually pin down the spiritual discomfort and put a name on it, but there is definitely a bright light making me uncomfortable.
The best selling book by Rick Warren begins with ‘It’s not about you’ has become quite the famous saying, but as my husband has brought to my attention, it should be… ‘It’s not just about you’. We interact with others everyday and our spiritual, emotional and physical health does affect our relationship with them. We are not here for ‘ourselves’ or we would be alone in the world. Our issues with others are vital. Our hearts, mental and emotional need to be tuned into God’s Word. Our focus on holiness should show in our actions. The issues of our deepest heart need to be cleaned up. This type of cleaning can be more heart rending and difficult than cleaning out the home of a loved one who has passed away. We need to die to ourselves and let the love of God touch those deeply seeded wounds and attitudes, and clean them out!
Isaiah 1:16 Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, 17 learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. 18 “Come now, let us reason together,” says the Lord: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”