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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You're Not In the Driver's Seat

Sometimes we would like to remake God into whom we want God to be. Sometimes we live out of a distorted perception of who God is. Or, sometimes we buy into popular "easy speak" about who God is because it feels safer or more comfortable and might be all about our happiness. 

When Peter declared Jesus to be "the Christ" he apparently had a distorted perception of what that meant rather than how God actually was revealing himself to be in the person of Christ. Jesus clearly tells the disciples what was coming, and it was a path of suffering, death and yes, also the reality of resurrection and new life.

Of course, we would love to get to resurrection without entering the pain and suffering path. Pain comes, suffering comes, as unavoidable realities of human life. We are invited to embrace them not run from them, learn from them, rely on God in them, and allow them to change our heart into a heart like Christ's. The process of dying to a self-absorbed life can be painful but it holds great hope for becoming fully alive. 

Mark 8:30-9:1 The Message (MSG)
Jesus warned them to keep it quiet, not to breathe a word of it to anyone. He then began explaining things to them: “It is necessary that the Son of Man proceed to an ordeal of suffering, be tried and found guilty by the elders, high priests, and religion scholars, be killed, and after three days rise up alive.” He said this simply and clearly so they couldn’t miss it.

But Peter grabbed him in protest. Turning and seeing his disciples wavering, wondering what to believe, Jesus confronted Peter. “Peter, get out of my way! Satan, get lost! You have no idea how God works.”

Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat; I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to saving yourself, your true self. What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you? What could you ever trade your soul for?

“If any of you are embarrassed over me and the way I’m leading you when you get around your fickle and unfocused friends, know that you’ll be an even greater embarrassment to the Son of Man when he arrives in all the splendor of God, his Father, with an army of the holy angels.”

Then he drove it home by saying, “This isn’t pie in the sky by and by. Some of you who are standing here are going to see it happen, see the kingdom of God arrive in full force.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
•    What stood out to you in this passage?  A word, a phrase?
•    What is your inner response?  Can you name it?
•    Any thoughts about how you might like to remake Jesus into someone else other than who he is?
•    Where are you with the invitation for dying to self, your human way of seeing, a spiritually false way of living?
•    How have you witnessed the kingdom of God in “full force?”