Merriam-Webster defines contemplation as a state of mystical awareness of God’s being.
I like that definition. Is there really any other way to experience God other than through mystical awareness?
Voltaire said this, “In the beginning God created man in His own image, and man has been trying to repay the favor ever since.”
We all know people who try to define God for us, we even do it ourselves. It’s only natural to try to define God. We want to figure Him/Her out. We want to be able to understand who God is and even more so, understand His/Her actions. And yet, Isaiah tells us this: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
There are so many questions that I can’t answer, things that happen that don’t correspond with a loving God. So how do I come to terms with all of this?
I remember the story of Job, a man who lost everything and wanted answers from God. God really didn’t give answers that would satisfy most, but they did satisfy Job.
Maybe it was because Job experienced a mystical awareness of God.
We may not be able to define God, answer difficult questions, or explain the unexplainable, but we can contemplate.
Sometimes I like to look at people’s faces and wonder what their life is like. What challenges have they faced? What kind of suffering did they encounter? How many disappointments did they face along the way?
And what about celebrations? Where was the joy in their life? Who was with them at these happy times?
Was there loss, illness, a big move? Did they travel? What kind of work did they do? Did they share their life with someone or go it alone?
No matter how close we are to people, we will never know all the secrets of someone’s life, and no one will ever know ours.
No one, except of course, our God. Our God knows the secrets of our hearts and says, “It’s ok, you are loved.”
Yes, it’s true. Today is National Bobblehead Day and yes, I have to admit, I have been a Bobblehead at times in my life. There have been times when I have kept silent, allowing my head to bobble a bit when I should have spoken up.
It’s difficult to speak up when you are dealing with a strong personality (dare I say bully?), or when you are the solo voice in a crowd (dare I say peer pressure?), and so I find myself keeping quiet, looking a bit like a bobblehead.
What if they don’t like what I say, what if they don’t see my point of view, what if I’m wrong???
I might feel a few moments of angst, mostly an ego thing, but it will save me the hours of wishing that I had said something which usually set in afterwards.
So today, as we celebrate National Bobblehead Day, let’s leave the ‘bobbling’ to the cute little desk ornaments!
I remember a few years back someone saw the face of Jesus on a slice of toast. Oh, there have been many sightings of Jesus’ face, on buildings, tree trunks, clouds, and so much more. Believe me, I am not making fun or doubting, because, who am I to judge, and if it reminds you of Christ or brings you closer to Him in any way then that’s just great.
There are other places to see Jesus’ face, however, and we all see those every day. We should see the face of Jesus in every person we meet. If we allow ourselves to encounter Christ in others, we will begin to respect, honor, and even love our sisters and brothers. These sort of sightings will never make the evening news but they will certainly make an impact in our lives. Appearances and differences may just not be that important anymore.
Oh, and one more thing…..don’t forget about that face you see in the mirror. Jesus is there as well!
“I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:32
Self Righteous = convinced of one’s own righteousness especially in contrast with the actions and beliefs of others : narrow-mindedly moralistic
Sinner = Someone who misses the mark
Repent = Change your direction (you’re going the wrong way)
In light of these definitions, allow me to re-phase Jesus’ statement: “I have not come for those who are moralistic, judgmental and convinced that they are always right, I have come for those who don’t quite have it together, those who struggle, those who seek. I have come to call them to change the direction they are headed because they will never find true happiness.”
“What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself” Blaise Pascal
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” Saint Augustine
I love this quote, there is so much that can be said about it.
To those who struggle with self acceptance and self love I would say, ‘You have value, you are loved.’ There is only one of you and the world needs your unique talents and gifts.
To those who constantly compare themselves to others I would say, ‘You are whole, you are complete. Celebrate who you are because there are those who compare themselves to you!’
And here is something to think about…..we are all different, as Dr. Seuss so brilliantly said, “There is no one alive who is you-er than you.” And yet, we are all created in the image and likeness of our God. That means that each one of us, different as we are, are God’s image and likeness.
God is beyond anything that we could ever fully predict or comprehend.
I believe that at some point in our lives we all pray. Some of us pray daily and others pray only when they are struggling. Some people give up on prayer when their prayers aren’t answered, and others continue to pray, trusting that God is listening.
We should pray because Jesus prayed. Jesus prayed prayers of praise and gratitude, and Jesus prayed prayers of intercession and supplication.
The night before Jesus died, Jesus prayed that God spare Him of the horrible events of the next day. Of course He would ask that he be spared of the beating, humiliation and crucifixion that lay ahead. He begged His Father to let this cup pass Him by.
But, before He ended His prayer, He said 8 very powerful words:
I have always been fascinated by the short conversation between Jesus and a leper (Luke 5: 12-13) where a leper approaches Jesus and says, “Lord, if you will do to so, you can cure me.” Jesus replies, “I do will it,” and of course, we know what happens next.
“I do will it.” How many time does Jesus want us to hear those words from Him, and yet, how can we reconcile that with the many times that we ask for things that we don’t receive, including healings?
When I face these kinds of discrepancies, I always try to delve a bit deeper. So, perhaps what this leper really needed was to be cured of this horrible disease and that is why he was. If Jesus wills our healing (which this verse seems to say), then maybe the healing that we most need is not always what we ask for.
So, in my prayer I will say, “If you will do to so, you can cure me,” and I will remain open and trust that I will be healed
in the way that I need it most, because Jesus replies, “I do will it!”
Did you just decide that it’s hopeless and so you’re skipping this year?
I really have not had very good luck with that exercise/lose weight goal that I set every year, so this year, I will set some goals that I will not do – hope to have better luck with these:
I will not go a day without prayer because when I start my day with gratitude and a few requests, my day always goes better
I will not be distracted. I will focus on whatever task I am doing while I am doing it. This may sound strange because mundane tasks seem like they are a good opportunity to think about other things, but staying in the present moment helps me to appreciate even the littlest things
I will not jump to judgement….especially if it is negative.
I will not miss an opportunity to be kind
And finally…….I will not forget that these ‘will nots’ will never be possible without God’s help
Anyone care to join me in my ‘NOT’ New Year’s Resolutions?