Waiting on God

For most of us, the act of waiting can be anything from inconvenient, to boring, to frustrating, to exasperating. Certainly, our waiting holds the potential and possibility to humble us, transform us, and sharpen our desire for what we most long for. Perhaps we find yourselves in a season of ordinary time, like Abraham, where all we can do in the waiting is to pay attention, watch for God to show up and enjoy the company of those we are with. There is a possibility in the waiting that we might discover God there, waiting for us.

Genesis 18:1-10a (NLT)
The Lord appeared again to Abraham near the oak grove belonging to Mamre. One day Abraham was sitting at the entrance to his tent during the hottest part of the day. 2 He looked up and noticed three men standing nearby. When he saw them, he ran to meet them and welcomed them, bowing low to the ground.

3 “My lord,” he said, “if it pleases you, stop here for a while. 4 Rest in the shade of this tree while water is brought to wash your feet. 5 And since you’ve honored your servant with this visit, let me prepare some food to refresh you before you continue on your journey.”

“All right,” they said. “Do as you have said.”

6 So Abraham ran back to the tent and said to Sarah, “Hurry! Get three large measures of your best flour, knead it into dough, and bake some bread.” 7 Then Abraham ran out to the herd and chose a tender calf and gave it to his servant, who quickly prepared it. 8 When the food was ready, Abraham took some yogurt and milk and the roasted meat, and he served it to the men. As they ate, Abraham waited on them in the shade of the trees.

9 “Where is Sarah, your wife?” the visitors asked.

“She’s inside the tent,” Abraham replied.

10 Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”

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.

Reflect on your longings and waiting for new life. What has that been like for you? What feelings rise up within you in the longing and waiting? Write about these experiences and feelings and talk it over in prayer with God.

Quietly rest with God and any consoling words or images given to you in this time of prayer.

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Practicing Resurrection

On the tide of Easter morning, those who went to look for Jesus found an empty tomb. Some discovered him along the way, others went to look again, others were surprised that Jesus was the one to seek them out and find them. These companions of Jesus, women and men, inspire us to keep looking for the risen Christ. Where are you seeing signs of new life in your everyday life? Which practices help train you to keep looking?

Isaiah 43:16-21 NIV
This is what the LORD says—
he who made a way through the sea,
a path through the mighty waters,
who drew out the chariots and horses,
the army and reinforcements together,
and they lay there, never to rise again,
extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word or phrase that stood out for you – that spoke just to you? Note it here, and then write 2-3 sentences about it.

What did you notice was your inner response as you listened? (longing, agitated, curious, confused, peaceful, joy-filled, hopeful, frustrated, anger nothing, etc.?)

Would you be willing to speak to God (Father, Son, or Holy Spirit) about these feelings? Allow God to see you as you are. Ask for what you need. Linger in God’s presence.

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How to Really See Your Brother (or Sister)

When I come to a complicated passage of Scripture which seems to challenge my beliefs about a compassionate, just and merciful God, I have learned to pause and turn to wonder. I prayerfully enter the swirl of the story and ask God for help to see the overarching story line. I look for life. Where do I see God's work of renewal in the story? I choose life. As I prayed with this passage, these are the words which came as I wrote in my journal. I share them that they might encourage you to journal with Scripture for yourself. These words are not meant to be a complete exegesis on the text.

Come, let us go see him. Come, we go together. I [Jesus] will truly teach you how to see your brother - how to see to the shalom of your brother. Watch me. Watch my response. Watch my grief. Watch what I will do. You are right. This will feel like going to the death with me. You are about to learn to die: to your own way of seeing what is really happening; to your fear of persecution because of being with me. You will come to know faith in a whole new way. Come, we go together. I'll hold your hand. I'll have your back.

Jesus, I want to be continually looking to the shalom of my brothers and sisters. Give me your heart for my brothers and sisters, in each person I meet. Help me not hurry past them. Help me to see the person in my every interaction. Show me what to pray, when to speak or act, and how to do it.

John 11:11-16 (NLT)
Then he said, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but now I will go and wake him up.”
12 The disciples said, “Lord, if he is sleeping, he will soon get better!” 13 They thought Jesus meant Lazarus was simply sleeping, but Jesus meant Lazarus had died.
14 So he told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And for your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there, for now you will really believe. Come, let’s go see him.”
16 Thomas, nicknamed the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let’s go, too—and die with Jesus.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which “stood out” for 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.

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.

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

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How Am I Known?

Our individual and communal stories always hold the possibility for a divine reset. How we see ourselves, one another and God opens us up to the wonder of possibility. Just what might God do?
Perhaps we all need the mud washed out of our eyes to receive and extend mercy and compassion - to see and be seen and become known for who we truly are.

John 9:1-12 NLT

As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. 2 “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him. 4 We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. 5 But while I am here in the world, I am the light of the world.”
6 Then he spit on the ground, made mud with the saliva, and spread the mud over the blind man’s eyes. 7 He told him, “Go wash yourself in the pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “sent”). So the man went and washed and came back seeing!
8 His neighbors and others who knew him as a blind beggar asked each other, “Isn’t this the man who used to sit and beg?” 9 Some said he was, and others said, “No, he just looks like him!”
But the beggar kept saying, “Yes, I am the same one!”
10 They asked, “Who healed you? What happened?”
11 He told them, “The man they call Jesus made mud and spread it over my eyes and told me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash yourself.’ So I went and washed, and now I can see!”
12 “Where is he now?” they asked.
“I don’t know,” he replied.

John 9:1-12 TMG
1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?”
3-5 Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.”
6-7 He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man’s eyes, and said, “Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam” (Siloam means “Sent”). The man went and washed—and saw.
8 Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, “Why, isn’t this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?”
9 Others said, “It’s him all right!”
But others objected, “It’s not the same man at all. It just looks like him.”
He said, “It’s me, the very one.”
10 They said, “How did your eyes get opened?”
11 “A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ I did what he said. When I washed, I saw.”
12 “So where is he?”
“I don’t know.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which “shimmered” for 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.

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.

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

Where Are You Seeing God At Work?

The beloved John continues to bear witness to the complex, crazy-making, critical culture created by scrupulous rule following. He contrasts these Jewish leaders with Jesus who is focused on watching for his Father's initiative and action. His words invite us to consider where we see life and renewal happening in and around us. His ways invite us to participate in God's life giving work through observation, contemplation, prayer, discernment and action. Begin with stopping to see. Where are you seeing God at work around you?

John 5:16-23 (NLT)
So the Jewish leaders began harassing Jesus for breaking the Sabbath rules. 17 But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” 18 So the Jewish leaders tried all the harder to find a way to kill him. For he not only broke the Sabbath, he called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.
19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished. 21 For just as the Father gives life to those he raises from the dead, so the Son gives life to anyone he wants. 22 In addition, the Father judges no one. Instead, he has given the Son absolute authority to judge, 23 so that everyone will honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son is certainly not honoring the Father who sent him.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear or see as you listened to 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? Without judgement, gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus. What does Jesus say to you?

What are you seeing the Father doing? Where are you seeing God working?

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

Come and See

John 1:35-42 (NIV)
35 The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. 36 When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
37 When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. 38 Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 “Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
40 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. 41 The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). 42 And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter).

For Reflection and Prayer:

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

Were you drawn to anyone in particular in this story-text? How might they have been feeling? How are you feeling? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer with Jesus.

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

A Shared Gaze

The mountains in our lives can seem like permanently immovable obstacles on our journey to live into the abundant life. Yet perhaps they are the very thing which prompts our gaze to shift. The mountains invite us to look up; to see them and to see beyond them.

Thankfully, there is One who is ever seeing us. whose loving gaze is always upon us. God sees us long before we see God. What might it be like meet God's gaze today and mutually share in it together? Even for a moment.

Slow down a task today, and consider God's gaze upon you as you are in it. Soak in God's pleasure.

Psalm 121 (NLT)
1 I look up to the mountains—
    does my help come from there?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
    who made heaven and earth!
3 He will not let you stumble;
    the one who watches over you will not slumber.
4 Indeed, he who watches over Israel
    never slumbers or sleeps.
5 The LORD himself watches over you!
    The LORD stands beside you as your protective shade.
6 The sun will not harm you by day,
    nor the moon at night.
7 The LORD keeps you from all harm
    and watches over your life.
8 The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go,
    both now and forever.

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 do you experience the gaze of God? What does God see? Linger in the gaze of God.

What mountains stand before you this day? What helps you shift your gaze to God? And what shifts in you as you shift your gaze?

How have you experienced the protective shade of God?

You Will See Him

Finally. Gloriously! We witness Jesus rising from the dead. He is alive! New life has come out of death. This is Good News! Christ is victorious over death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (1 Tim. 1:10).

What a revelation to those faithful, humble women who were the first witnesses to Christ's resurrection. And they are told something mysterious, "you will see him". These words are truth and sustenance for us today. Where has Jesus gone ahead of us? Where is he bringing new life out of death?
Jesus, open our eyes to see you.

Mark 16:1-8 (NLT)
Saturday evening, when the Sabbath ended, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome went out and purchased burial spices so they could anoint Jesus’ body. 2 Very early on Sunday morning, just at sunrise, they went to the tomb. 3 On the way they were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?” 4 But as they arrived, they looked up and saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled aside.

5 When they entered the tomb, they saw a young man clothed in a white robe sitting on the right side. The women were shocked, 6 but the angel said, “Don’t be alarmed. You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Look, this is where they laid his body. 7 Now go and tell his disciples, including Peter, that Jesus is going ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you before he died.”

8 The women fled from the tomb, trembling and bewildered, and they said nothing to anyone because they were too frightened.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What phrase or word spoke to you as you listened/read?

Be with the women who discovered the tomb was empty. What do you notice?

Where do you see the risen Jesus having gone ahead of you? Where would you like to see him? Bring this into prayer with Jesus.

Is there something you want to say to Jesus about this passage?

Wonder and Amazement

Days pass, and the years vanish, and we walk sightless among miracles.
A Jewish Prayer

What can help us deepen in attentiveness to the miracles that occur each day, all around us and within us?  We often are so focused on our own agenda, issues, fears, or circumstances that we are not able to see the wonder in and of the present.

In the following story the disciples were described with the words their hearts were hardened; they couldn't see or have understanding about the miracle that occurred right in front of them, in which they participated. They couldn't "make sense" of who was in their midst. The story progresses and as their sight increases, their understanding deepens. God was there even when they didn't recognize it.

Pay attention to moments of wonder, of awe, of amazement, of peace. They can come in the middle of a crowd or in the height of a storm. Cultivate your sense of seeing and becoming more attentive to what God is doing.

Mark 6:45-56 NIV
Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them. Shortly before dawn he went out to them, walking on the lake. He was about to pass by them, but when they saw him walking on the lake, they thought he was a ghost. They cried out, because they all saw him and were terrified.

Immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed, for they had not understood about the loaves; their hearts were hardened.

When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.  As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognized Jesus.  They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard he was.  And wherever he went—into villages, towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.

For Prayer and Reflection: 
What did you hear or feel as you listened?  A word? A phrase?  A sensation? 

How are the people, including the disciples, seeing and responding to Jesus?  What do you think it means, “their hearts were hardened?” 

Have you experienced this kind of hardening of your heart?