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.

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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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When Our Soul is Deeply Troubled

It can be excruciatingly difficult to trust or see God's love and continual action of renewal in our lives when our soul is deeply troubled. Life. Death. Renewal. This is God's glory story. Day after day after day. We long to meet Jesus on our terms. Yet it takes love, hope and vulnerable courage to trust that God will make something new and beautiful out of the most troubling and anguishing aspects of our lives. What and who helps you let go and deepen in trust of God's loving, restorative care for you and your life?
                                              He restores my soul...Psalm 23

John 12:20-28 (NLT)
Some Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover celebration 21 paid a visit to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee. They said, “Sir, we want to meet Jesus.” 22 Philip told Andrew about it, and they went together to ask Jesus.
23 Jesus replied, “Now the time has come for the Son of Man to enter into his glory. 24 I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat is planted in the soil and dies, it remains alone. But its death will produce many new kernels—a plentiful harvest of new lives. 25 Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. 26 Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! 28 Father, bring glory to your name.”
Then a voice spoke from heaven, saying, “I have already brought glory to my name, and I will do so again.”

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? Talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

Where are you currently being asked to let go? To allow something to die so that new life might emerge? What do you need from God to help you let go?

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

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Hope for Restoration

These words from Isaiah evoke a longing in us for restoration - to be back again in the garden with God as all was created and intended to be. This is the place where our soul longs to dwell and make its home with God. God has placed this hope in our hearts for what is to come and enables us to live in this hope right now, regardless of our circumstance.

As a new year is upon us, what are you hoping for? Who and what are you placing your hope in? And what hope for restoration has the Holy Spirit placed within you? May the Lord strengthen your hands and encourage you to stand so that you may walk upright in this hope placed within you.

Isaiah 35 (NLT)
Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
    The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
2 Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
    as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.
3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
    and encourage those who have weak knees.
4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
    and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
7 The parched ground will become a pool,
 and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.
8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
    It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
    It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.
9 Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
    They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

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.

What longing rose up in your heart as you listened? How do you feel this holy longing in your body? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer.

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

Sounds of Freedom

Again this Christmas, we celebrated the coming of Jesus and we remember again the purpose of his coming: to restore us back to God. In this Psalm, we are given a front row seat to hear the voices of a people who are freed from captivity and brought back home to God. Let us find our own voice within this crowd and join the cry for freedom.

Psalm 126 (AMP)
When the Lord brought back the captives to Zion (Jerusalem),
We were like those who dream [it seemed so unreal].

Then our mouth was filled with laughter
And our tongue with joyful shouting;
Then they said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
 
The Lord has done great things for us;
We are glad!
Restore our [b]captivity, O Lord,
As the stream-beds in the South (the Negev) [are restored by torrents of rain].
 
They who sow in tears shall reap with joyful singing.
 
He who goes back and forth weeping, carrying his bag of seed [for planting],
Will indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.

Footnotes:
Psalm 126:4 I.e. the remaining exiles.

For Reflection and Prayer:

What word, a phrase, image, or feeling caught your attention as you listened? Bring it into your prayer with Jesus. Journal what Jesus says in response to you.

How have you experienced being restored from captivity?  Reflect on your experience; either your lifetime or this past year. Bring your reflections before God in prayer.

Perhaps your longings reveal a desire for new freedom. Ask God to give you courage to listen and discern what they may be revealing. Ask God to meet you in your longings.

Does a spontaneous response arise within you to God? To sing or dance or make music or write or any kind of art form? What ways of expression of worship flow from your marvelous design?

Restore Us

Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (NIV)

1 Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,
    you who lead Joseph like a flock.
You who sit enthroned between the cherubim,
    shine forth 2 before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh.
Awaken your might; come and save us.
3 Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
4 How long, LORD God Almighty,
    will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people?
5 You have fed them with the bread of tears;
    you have made them drink tears by the bowlful.
6 You have made us an object of derision to our neighbors,
    and our enemies mock us.
7 Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
17 Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
    the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
18 Then we will not turn away from you;
    revive us, and we will call on your name.
19 Restore us, LORD God Almighty; make your face shine on us,that we may be saved.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word, a phrase, image, or feeling “shimmered” for youas you listened? Bring it into conversation with Jesus.

How is God with you when you experience fear or shame? Reflect on a time when God met you there.

Is there a place now within you, which cries out for restoration to God? A longing to be at home again with God?

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.