Healing Trauma

Living through grief, loss or traumatic events will have an effect on the whole of our being: our body, our mind and our soul. Safe, loving community and familiar routines can help us begin our lives again. Yet more is needed. We long for healing of the pain and fear. We yearn for the restoration towards wholeness. Jesus too longs to be present to us in these places of need and yearning. He offers his comforting presence, his understanding, his hope, his provision and very real practical, care for our bodies. As your pray with this text, consider how Jesus might be inviting you to participate in his compassionate care towards yourself. What rest and nourishment does your body, mind and soul need today?

John 21:1-11 (NLT)

Later, Jesus appeared again to the disciples beside the Sea of Galilee. This is how it happened. 2 Several of the disciples were there—Simon Peter, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples.

3 Simon Peter said, “I’m going fishing.”

“We’ll come, too,” they all said. So they went out in the boat, but they caught nothing all night.

4 At dawn Jesus was standing on the beach, but the disciples couldn’t see who he was. 5 He called out, “Fellows, have you caught any fish?”

“No,” they replied.

6 Then he said, “Throw out your net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you’ll get some!” So they did, and they couldn’t haul in the net because there were so many fish in it.

7 Then the disciple Jesus loved said to Peter, “It’s the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his tunic (for he had stripped for work), jumped into the water, and headed to shore. 8 The others stayed with the boat and pulled the loaded net to the shore, for they were only about a hundred yards from shore. 9 When they got there, they found breakfast waiting for them—fish cooking over a charcoal fire, and some bread.

10 “Bring some of the fish you’ve just caught,” Jesus said. 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and dragged the net to the shore. There were 153 large fish, and yet the net hadn’t torn.

For Reflection and Prayer:

Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.

Was there any particular emotion which emerged as you listened to the scripture?

Journal about it. Where do you sense that emotion in your body? What does that emotion tell you about your need or hope?

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

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Remembering Times of Not Enough

Many of us remember this miraculous story of bread and fish multiplied for the multitudes. We can join the crowd on the mountainside with Jesus and feel the intensity of the collective physical and spiritual hunger. What is Jesus wanting to embody to his disciples and followers on this day? With the season of Passover hovering about them, it seems Jesus is helping each one remember those days in Egypt when "not enough" reigned:
- not enough bricks
- not enough rest
- not enough food
- not enough time
- not enough worship
- not enough peace
- not enough grace
- not enough hope
- not enough love

Perhaps they could feel "not enough" in their bellies again. The spaciousness of the mountainside, the expansiveness of the sea, the tenderness of the grass and the responsiveness to the hunger vividly contrasts with the narrowness of Pharaoh's Egypt.
Eat the "broken bread" afresh this day. Taste God's goodness. Notice what satisfies your hunger.

John 6:1-15 (NIV)
Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 2 and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. 3 Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 4 The Jewish Passover Festival was near.
5 When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” 6 He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
7 Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
8 Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, 9 “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.
14 After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” 15 Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.

For your reflection and prayer:
As you listened, was there a word, a phrase, an image, or something else that stood out to you? Notice what it stirs in you. Have a conversation with Jesus about this.

Place yourself in the story and enter into it as it unfolds. Who are you? Who is interacting with you and around you? What are you seeing, smelling, sensing, hearing, touching? Write about your experience in the story and allow it to be your prayer.

Slowly savor any consoling words or images which God gives you in this time of prayer. Simply rest in God’s presence with them.

When Jesus Comes Towards Us

Unexpectedly, Jesus comes towards us often disguised in ways in which we cannot see him. Jesus comes to us in our place of need, yet sometimes we are desperately afraid of our true need. It is hard to imagine Jesus wanting to meet us somewhere we do not want to be. Still, he comes and descends gently upon us through his Spirit. Be still and rest in Christ's presence as you pray with John's testimony of Jesus coming towards him.

John 1:29-34 (NLT)
29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30 He is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘A man is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.’ 31 I did not recognize him as the Messiah, but I have been baptizing with water so that he might be revealed to Israel.”
32 Then John testified, “I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33 I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ‘The one on whom you see the Spirit descend and rest is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Chosen One of God.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

Give yourself room for the word to affect you. What are you feeling or sensing? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

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

Holding on to God's Hand

Bring all your senses into this time of prayer.

In a safe place, allow God to take you by the hand and tenderly show you God’s ways of mercy, love and truth. Notice how God’s hand feels. Is there a safe place you would like God to take you? Where are God’s ways of mercy, love and truth intersecting with your life? Enjoy God’s gracious company. Is there a particular member of the Trinity whose company you are most drawn to today?

Be at rest in God’s company. Take your shoes off. You are home.

Psalm 25:1-10 (NIV)
1 In you, LORD my God,
    I put my trust.
2 I trust in you;
    do not let me be put to shame,
    nor let my enemies triumph over me.
3 No one who hopes in you
    will ever be put to shame,
but shame will come on those
    who are treacherous without cause.
4 Show me your ways, LORD,
    teach me your paths.
5 Guide me in your truth and teach me,
    for you are God my Savior,
    and my hope is in you all day long.
6 Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love,
    for they are from of old.
7 Do not remember the sins of my youth
    and my rebellious ways;
according to your love remember me,
    for you, LORD, are good.
8 Good and upright is the LORD;
    therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
9 He guides the humble in what is right
    and teaches them his way.
10 All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful
    toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What words or phrases stood out for you?  What pictures were formed in your mind while reading/hearing the scriptures?

In this passage the reader looks at waiting as a spiritual practice.  What are your experiences of waiting for God?  Are you waiting for something right now?  What does waiting feel like? Look like?  How do you feel about waiting for anything? Draw a picture of what waiting looks like for you now.

Who were your spiritual teachers in your past?  What did you learn from them? Who are the teachers and guides on your spiritual path today? What are you learning from them?  What would you wish to learn from them? 

Pause for a moment and give names to the blessings that encircle you today. What picture(s) comes to mind as you ponder blessings and gratitude? Let gratitude make its home in you as you remain focused on the One who protects you.

Our Fight Song

Our fight song sounds much different from the popular methods of the world for we do not battle in the flesh. There is One who fights for us. As we learn to be still, pray, trust, speak truth, worship and dwell with God, we experience God doing battle on our behalf.

For many, this is a go-to Psalm for spiritual battle, oppression and contending prayer. Learn this song, and sing it often.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Psalm 91 (NLT)

1 Those who live in the shelter of the Most High
    will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 This I declare about the LORD:
He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;
    he is my God, and I trust him.
3 For he will rescue you from every trap
    and protect you from deadly disease.
4 He will cover you with his feathers.
    He will shelter you with his wings.
    His faithful promises are your armor and protection.
5 Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,
    nor the arrow that flies in the day.
6 Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,
    nor the disaster that strikes at midday.
7 Though a thousand fall at your side,
    though ten thousand are dying around you,
    these evils will not touch you.
8 Just open your eyes,
    and see how the wicked are punished.
9 If you make the LORD your refuge,
    if you make the Most High your shelter,
10 no evil will conquer you;
    no plague will come near your home.
11 For he will order his angels
    to protect you wherever you go.
12 They will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.
13 You will trample upon lions and cobras;
    you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!
14 The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.
    I will protect those who trust in my name.
15 When they call on me, I will answer;
    I will be with them in trouble.
    I will rescue and honor them.
16 I will reward them with a long life
    and give them my salvation.”

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer.

Reflect on how or when have you experienced God fighting battle for you or sheltering you.

If you were to form this Psalm into a song, how would it sound? What elements, rhythm, tone, theme, melody, harmony, voice and/or form would you use? How would God’s voice to you sound within it?

 

Invited To Be In The Story

You are invited to step into this familiar story of Jesus' miraculous  feeding, so that you become part of the action. Come alive to the sights, sounds, smells and feelings of the event. What might the disciples be feeling before they got away? What did they think of the crowd who followed them? Sense the excitement of the families as they sit in circles on the grass wondering what is going to happen. Watch Jesus as he prays to the Father, breaks the loaves, and gives the bread and the fish to each of the disciples. Notice the amazement of the disciples as they distribute what they have. Sit in one of the circles, taste the bread and the fish, enter into the astonishment of the people as they talk about the miracle. See the compassion Jesus has for the people. Let him look into your eyes as though you were there on that day. Feel the love he has for you now.

Alex Aronis in his book, Developing Intimacy with Christ, suggests that you ask yourself these questions, "What in the text moves me to want to attach myself to Christ? What causes me to appreciate or love Christ more?" Try to understand why he takes the action and says the words that he does. Seek intimate knowledge of Christ.

Mark 6:30-44 NIV
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. 31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

32 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. 33 But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.

35 By this time it was late in the day, so his disciples came to him. “This is a remote place,” they said, “and it’s already very late. 36 Send the people away so that they can go to the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat.”

37 But he answered, “You give them something to eat.”

They said to him, “That would take more than half a year’s wages[a]! Are we to go and spend that much on bread and give it to them to eat?”

38 “How many loaves do you have?” he asked. “Go and see.”

When they found out, they said, “Five—and two fish.”

39 Then Jesus directed them to have all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. 40 So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties. 41 Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. 42 They all ate and were satisfied, 43 and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. 44 The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What was it like for you to step into the story with Jesus? to be a part of the miracle?

Was there something in the text which moved you to want to attach yourself to Christ?

What caused you to appreciate or love Christ more?

Have a conversation with Jesus about these things.

Resisting the Lure of the Crowd

The demands of work, family, ministry, and self-imposed expectations  often push themselves forward creating pressure and stress. In the following story, Jesus and his disciples withdrew to find a place of quiet rest. Instead the crowds followed, desperate to touch Jesus, to find healing. The story tells us that evil spirits kept identifying him as the Son of God. Where we might think this would be good, Jesus could see the enemy's tactic of trying to overwhelm and defeat him. Jesus requested a small boat be readied for him to give set-apart space from the crush of the crowd.

Jesus did not "need" the crowd in order to live out his purpose.

Do you recognize what contributes to your weariness and stress? What is it you need that might hook a pattern of overwork? What might be God's invitation for you?

Mark 3:7-12 (NIV)
Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. When they heard about all he was doing, many people came to him from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, and the regions across the Jordan and around Tyre and Sidon. Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him. For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him. Whenever the impure spirits saw him, they fell down before him and cried out, "You are the Son of God," But he gave them strict orders not to tell others about him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What phrase or word spoke to you as you listened/read?
What does this tell us about Jesus?
What in you needs to be healed by touching Jesus?
How do you hear God speaking to your life in this text?