I Will Take Care of You

“I will take care of you” - oh, how we long to hear the essence of these words in one form or another. How often do we silently base our hope on someone doing just that for us? A parent, a spouse, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a sibling, a friend, a child? These are weighty expectations.

This is a weighty story of Joseph, his family and the God who is bigger than family relations, the weather, economic conditions, and earthly kingdoms. As you pray with this passage, invite God to deepen your knowing - knowing the God who truly takes care of you.

Genesis 45:1-15 (NLT)
Joseph could stand it no longer. There were many people in the room, and he said to his attendants, “Out, all of you!” So he was alone with his brothers when he told them who he was. 2 Then he broke down and wept. He wept so loudly the Egyptians could hear him, and word of it quickly carried to Pharaoh’s palace.

3 “I am Joseph!” he said to his brothers. “Is my father still alive?” But his brothers were speechless! They were stunned to realize that Joseph was standing there in front of them. 4 “Please, come closer,” he said to them. So they came closer. And he said again, “I am Joseph, your brother, whom you sold into slavery in Egypt. 5 But don’t be upset, and don’t be angry with yourselves for selling me to this place. It was God who sent me here ahead of you to preserve your lives. 6 This famine that has ravaged the land for two years will last five more years, and there will be neither plowing nor harvesting. 7 God has sent me ahead of you to keep you and your families alive and to preserve many survivors. 8 So it was God who sent me here, not you! And he is the one who made me an adviser to Pharaoh—the manager of his entire palace and the governor of all Egypt.

9 “Now hurry back to my father and tell him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me master over all the land of Egypt. So come down to me immediately! 10 You can live in the region of Goshen, where you can be near me with all your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and everything you own. 11 I will take care of you there, for there are still five years of famine ahead of us. Otherwise you, your household, and all your animals will starve.’”

12 Then Joseph added, “Look! You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that I really am Joseph! 13 Go tell my father of my honored position here in Egypt. Describe for him everything you have seen, and then bring my father here quickly.” 14 Weeping with joy, he embraced Benjamin, and Benjamin did the same. 15 Then Joseph kissed each of his brothers and wept over them, and after that they began talking freely with him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Using all of your senses, place yourself in the story. Who are you and what are you witnessing or experiencing? Write out the story in your own words, allowing the story and conversation to be your prayer.

Does a word, phrase or image catch your attention you as you listen to or slowly read the text? Gently reflect on it in your prayer. Journal your conversation with God.

Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.

print pdf

The Intimacy of the Supper Table

Even in our hurried, disconnected culture today, sharing dinner with someone remains an act of intimacy. The host shares what is his or hers to give and the guests receive with gratitude, the food, drink, hospitality and conversation offered. The dinner table creates the possibility of being known. The dinner conversation between Jesus and his disciples unfolds with this very purposeful invitation to be fully known. We can feel the ache Jesus might feel as he gives each disciple freedom to choose how to respond to this gift of intimacy. Some choose to lean and linger while another chooses to flee and hide. We are given this same opportunity to choose intimacy today.

John 13:18-30 (MSG)
“I’m not including all of you in this. I know precisely whom I’ve selected, so as not to interfere with the fulfillment of this Scripture:
The one who ate bread at my table
Turned on his heel against me.
“I’m telling you all this ahead of time so that when it happens you will believe that I am who I say I am. Make sure you get this right: Receiving someone I send is the same as receiving me, just as receiving me is the same as receiving the One who sent me.”
21 After he said these things, Jesus became visibly upset, and then he told them why. “One of you is going to betray me.”
22-25 The disciples looked around at one another, wondering who on earth he was talking about. One of the disciples, the one Jesus loved dearly, was reclining against him, his head on his shoulder. Peter motioned to him to ask who Jesus might be talking about. So, being the closest, he said, “Master, who?”
26-27 Jesus said, “The one to whom I give this crust of bread after I’ve dipped it.” Then he dipped the crust and gave it to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot. As soon as the bread was in his hand, Satan entered him.
“What you must do,” said Jesus, “do. Do it and get it over with.”
28-29 No one around the supper table knew why he said this to him. Some thought that since Judas was their treasurer, Jesus was telling him to buy what they needed for the Feast, or that he should give something to the poor.
30 Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.

For Reflection and Prayer:
If there was a word, a phrase, or an image that sought your attention as you listened, stay with it and listen deeper with Jesus.
Place yourself in the story as one of the disciples. What do you notice?
If you noticed any place of tension or of ease in yourself as you listened, imagine leaning your head on Jesus’ chest and communing with him there.

print pdf

 

The Fragrance of Love Poured Out

Seated among his dearest friends, Jesus displays his vulnerability and receives the grace of love poured out upon him by Mary.  In a hushed and poignant act of intimacy, Jesus risks living openly and vulnerably with both those who are trustworthy and those who are not. Love is costly, both to give and to receive. The extravagance of this gift is noted in the text but what of the smell itself? The whole home was filled with the fragrance of nard which in a Hebrew home would have been associated with the temple and death. Jesus, what does this poured out love on you look like and smell like in our own homes?

John 12:1-11 (NLT)
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. 10 Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, 11 for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.

For Reflection and Prayer:
If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you. Journal what you hear and your response.

This passage lends itself well to immersing yourself in the story. It is filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Notice what captures your attention and stay with it for a while. Savor your interaction with Jesus and rest in any consolation he brings.

The intimacy of this family reunion is palpable. What longings rise up in you as you observe this family with Jesus? Write about them in your journal.

print pdf

 

Private Garden Conversations

In Genesis, we are given a glimpse into the intimate conversations shared between God and Adam and Eve in the garden. The garden, then and now, is an intimate place to know and be known without any shame. It is a place where we can be vulnerable, let down our guard, take off our masks and speak about the private matters of the heart. Such a place of beauty, reverence, and humility invites us to be honest, still and listen.

This long text is set in a garden grove of olive trees. Within the shelter of branches, Jesus' closest friends draw near and enter into a private conversation with him. It seems like they listened to his long explanations without interrupting. Perhaps there were pauses of silence to allow the disciples space to absorb all that Jesus disclosed to them.

Today, Jesus is inviting you to return to the garden with him in your prayer. He is wiling to share a private conversation with you...Come, he is waiting for you...

Mark 13 (NIV)
13 As Jesus was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!”

2 “Do you see all these great buildings?” replied Jesus. “Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.”

3 As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are all about to be fulfilled?”

5 Jesus said to them: “Watch out that no one deceives you. 6 Many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am he,’ and will deceive many. 7 When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 8 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places, and famines. These are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “You must be on your guard. You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues. On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all nations. 11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

12 “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

14 “When you see ‘the abomination that causes desolation’ standing where it does not belong—let the reader understand—then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let no one on the housetop go down or enter the house to take anything out. 16 Let no one in the field go back to get their cloak. 17 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! 18 Pray that this will not take place in winter, 19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now—and never to be equaled again.

20 “If the Lord had not cut short those days, no one would survive. But for the sake of the elect, whom he has chosen, he has shortened them. 21 At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Messiah!’ or, ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. 22 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 So be on your guard; I have told you everything ahead of time.

24 “But in those days, following that distress,

“‘the sun will be darkened,
    and the moon will not give its light;
25 the stars will fall from the sky,
    and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.’

26 “At that time people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And he will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

28 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 29 Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that it is near, right at the door. 30 Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word(s) or phrase(s) in the passage calls out to you?

Is there anything you would like to ask Jesus about privately? You may want to journal your conversation.

This may be a hard passage to read and understand, yet does something in the passage stir within you? Sit, talk and listen with Jesus about this.

Jesus tells us that there are going to be hard days - both now and in the end times. What gives you hope to press on?

A Healing Touch

Today's story is a poignant, intimate interaction between a village community, a blind man and Jesus. One could wonder about why these villagers were so desperate for Jesus to heal this man. One could wonder about the way and means Jesus used to heal this man. One could wonder at the vulnerability and surrender of the blind man towards Jesus. One could wonder why Jesus would heal this man at the pleading of his village community and then instruct him not to go back there on his way home. There is much to wonder about in these few verses. Notice again today how Jesus meets you in this story. Notice where wonder arises; wonder that does not demand an explanation yet wonder that opens your soul to possibilities. Let Jesus meet you there.

Mark 8:22-26 (NLT)
When they arrived at Bethsaida, some people brought a blind man to Jesus, and they begged him to touch the man and heal him. 23 Jesus took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village. Then, spitting on the man’s eyes, he laid his hands on him and asked, “Can you see anything now?”
24 The man looked around. “Yes,” he said, “I see people, but I can’t see them very clearly. They look like trees walking around.”
25 Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again, and his eyes were opened. His sight was completely restored, and he could see everything clearly. 26 Jesus sent him away, saying, “Don’t go back into the village on your way home.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word, phrase or image which stayed with you?  Be still with it for a while. Ask Jesus, is there more that he says to you?

How have you experienced Jesus taking you by the hand, leading you away from the crowd and providing a healing touch? Would you desire Jesus to do that for you now? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you need right now.

What has been your experience of restoration? Has it come it stages like the man in this story? Perhaps you want to journal your own story of Jesus restoring you.

Is there anyone who you want to bring to Jesus for his healing touch? Bring that person to Jesus in your prayer.