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

Reckoning With That Which Lasts

Painting a panoramic picture of those who trust in God, Jeremiah asks us to reckon with that which lasts. What are those things in our lives which are like a curse; chaff that is easily blown away? What provides an enduring anchor for our lives that not only gives us meaning but also holds us when life gets hard, ravaged and raw? Sit with these words long enough to allow wisdom and discernment to emerge for this season of your life. These words are not meant to keep us stuck in fear or shame but to guide us into the wisdom and freedom of a life anchored in God.

Jeremiah 17:5-10 TMG

“Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans,
Who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.
He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth.
He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.
“But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God.
They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—
Never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf,
Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.
“The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out.
But I, God, search the heart and examine the mind.
I get to the heart of the human. I get to the root of things.
I treat them as they really are, not as they pretend to be.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a specific word or phrase which was impressed upon your heart or mind as you listened to the text? Reflect on that and bring your reflection in your prayer.

What emotions were stirred in you in this time of listening? Gently notice them, name them, feel them and simply offer them as your prayer to God.

What longing does this passage stir in you? In the quiet, simply be with that longing between you and God.

Journal your prayer that flows out of your meditation and contemplation of this passage.

print pdf

Surrender to God's Loving Hands

As the Gospel of John comes to a close, we are faced with our own mortality just as the early disciples were. Though our freedom to choose seems to change with age, time and circumstance, Jesus ultimately reminds us of our ultimate freedom to choose to entrust ourselves to him. Can we trust that his hands will hold us no matter what we face? what fears assail us? or circumstances befall us? John implores us to know this Jesus whose perfect love heals, restores and casts out all fear. We can test him with our lives in this and discover for ourselves that he is trustworthy and true.

John 21:18-25 (NLT)
“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God. Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.”

20 Peter turned around and saw behind them the disciple Jesus loved—the one who had leaned over to Jesus during supper and asked, “Lord, who will betray you?” 21 Peter asked Jesus, “What about him, Lord?”

22 Jesus replied, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? As for you, follow me.” 23 So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”

24 This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate.

25 Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.

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.

Where have you experienced being led to a place where you do not want to go? How has God been with you there? Journal about your experience and talk it over with Jesus in your prayer.

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

print pdf

The Way of Trust and Surrender

Repeatedly through the Gospels, Jesus has candid conversations with those in relationship with him. He allows them not only to hear his words but also to actually live in the experience of them.   Some of what Jesus seems to be saying in this passage is...
 
I have shown and will keep showing you how I trust my Father's life in me, surrender to his initiatives and take action. It may look senseless, crazy or too hard to you at times but this is where life is so big that it can hold truth, reality and pain together while my Father continually works to bring renewal. Evil will not prevail. Vulnerable love is powerful. Are you willing to join me in what I am doing?

John 14:5-14 (NLT)
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

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.

Meditate on one of the names of Jesus which has been particularly meaningful for you. What about that characteristic deepens your attachment to Jesus?

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

print pdf

Martha's Creed

Martha has gone out to meet Jesus as he finally arrives 4 days after Lazarus has died. According to Jewish tradition Lazarus is now considered legally dead. In the midst of grief we hear Martha confess what she believes. Martha’s creed proclaims that Jesus is the healer, the One who could ask and receive from God, the Giver of eternal life, the Messiah, Son of God, the One who came to the world from God. Without extra mourners crowding the space you are invited to enter and listen in to this private conversation.
Where are you personally hearing word that Jesus is coming?

John 11:17-27 (NLT)
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. 18 Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, 19 and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”

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 finding life? Where is life being drained from you? Bring this refection into conversation with God.

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

print pdf

Only The Father Knows

The season of Advent reminds us to wait with intention.

Jesus' life, recorded in the Scripture gives us many clues as to what he was waiting and watching for. He consistently went off to be alone with his Father. He longed to be in the company of his father, to be at home with him. This text reminds us that there are some things which only the Father knows. We can either fear the Father's knowledge and how he will use it or we can imitate Jesus and draw close to the Father and listen to his heart. We can wonder. What might the Father know that he too longs for us to hear?

Matthew 24:36, 42-44 NLT

36 “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.

42 “So you, too, must keep watch! For you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 Understand this: If a homeowner knew exactly when a burglar was coming, he would keep watch and not permit his house to be broken into. 44 You also must be ready all the time, for the Son of Man will come when least expected.

For Reflection and Prayer:
Did a word, phrase or picture come to mind as you listened to the text?

Journal what you are wondering about. Bring these wonderings into conversation with Jesus.

Did a particular feeling or emotion arise as you listened to the text? Tell Jesus about it. He or the Father may have more to say to you about it.

Waking the Dawn with Our Song

In a burst of heartfelt expression, Psalm 108 might compel us to consider the song in our own heart to God. Some people literally waken each morning with a song humming from somewhere deep inside the soul. These songs speak to the core of our longings, placed inside of us for ourselves and God. They might sound the purpose of our lives or provide anchoring from which we live out the day. Pause to listen each morning as you waken and notice the song lodged deep within your spirit. Linger in the gentle awaking of this song within. May it be fully released.

Psalm 108:1-5 NLT

My heart is confident in you, O God;
    no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!
2 Wake up, lyre and harp!
    I will wake the dawn with my song.
3 I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.
    I will sing your praises among the nations.
4 For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.
    Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
5 Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.
    May your glory shine over all the earth.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What words or phrases stood out to you as you listened to the text? What pictures formed in your mind? Bring them into your prayer with Jesus.

Reflect on your "confidence in God meter". What affects your rating? Where does God, life experiences and prayers reside within this? Bring these reflections into your prayer.

Pause and give names to the blessings that encircle you today. What blessings do you seek?

Counseled By Loving Eyes

Counseled by loving eyes which look upon us with compassion
Eyes which say, "choose life"
Eyes that understand our deepest needs and fears
These eyes are not critical, cruel or cunning
They do not evoke fear of punishment
Rather they convey love, hope and kindness
Because of unfailing love, they delight in us learning to walk in the ways of life.

Turn again to see God's loving gaze upon you.

Psalm 32:8-11 NIV
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
    I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.
9 Do not be like the horse or the mule,
    which have no understanding
but must be controlled by bit and bridle
    or they will not come to you.
10 Many are the woes of the wicked,
    but the LORD’s unfailing love
    surrounds the one who trusts in him.
11 Rejoice in the LORD and be glad, you righteous;
    sing, all you who are upright in heart!

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did it stir up a feeling within you as you listened?
What do you hear about God in this passage?
What do you hear about yourself in these words?
What is your prayer that emerges from these words? What might you ask God to do in you?

Our Hiding Place

The place we go to hide can become the place where we become found by God and find God for ourselves. It is a place where we can be seen and known with love and compassion, including the parts of ourselves we most want to hide from. As you find a quiet moment to listen to the words of Psalm 32, give them room to soak in like a softly falling rain.

Psalm 32:1-7 NIV
1 Blessed is the one
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one
    whose sin the LORD does not count against them
    and in whose spirit is no deceit.
3 When I kept silent,
    my bones wasted away
    through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night
    your hand was heavy on me;
my strength was sapped
    as in the heat of summer.
5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you
    and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess
    my transgressions to the LORD.”
And you forgave
    the guilt of my sin.
6 Therefore let all the faithful pray to you
    while you may be found;
surely the rising of the mighty waters
    will not reach them.
7 You are my hiding place;
    you will protect me from trouble
    and surround me with songs of deliverance.

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened to the text? Did it stir up a feeling within you as you listened?
What do you hear about God in this passage?
What do you hear about yourself in these words?
What is your prayer that emerges from these words? What might you ask God to do in you?

A Still and Quiet Soul

Strong bonds of attachment develop between a mother and nursing infant as the baby learns that her needs for safety, nourishment, being held, companionship, and care will be met. Especially important are the eyes brimming with loving delight that the baby sees in the eyes who see her. Deep inside her soul, she knows love. Her trust is the fruit of this knowing love. Together the mother and babe learn the dance of trust as the babe expresses her needs through cries and the mother learns to interpret them. As the infant matures the time will come when the mother and child begin the process of weaning. This too is a delicate dance and cannot be rushed. A contentedly calm, weaned child: still, quiet and resting in her mothers embrace is the fruit of the loving trust established between them.

The fruit of loving trust is a still and quiet soul.

Psalm 131 (NIV)

My heart is not proud, Lord,
    my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
    or things too wonderful for me.

But I have calmed and quieted myself,
    I am like a weaned child with its mother;
    like a weaned child I am content.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord
    both now and forevermore.

For Prayer and Reflection:

Is there a word, a phrase, or an image from this passage that holds your attention? Rest with Jesus with that for awhile.

What concerns might you be holding that most keep your soul from rest? What do you notice about your soul when it is quieted? How does this quieting come to you?

Is there a sound, a color, an image, a smell, a taste, a texture or something else which helps you rest your soul and/or encourages your trust and hope in the Lord?

Often Christians are prodded to "mature" quickly. Give yourself permission to be that nursing infant with God. What do you need for trust to be reestablished between you and God? Keep bringing this into your prayer.