When Love Looks Like Delay

I am drawn into this intimate family scene involving Mary, Martha, Lazarus and Jesus. How profoundly they must have known and trusted the love of one another that the women sent word to Jesus of their brothers' dreadful sickness. What must it have been like for these women and the very sick man to wait for days for Jesus to 'care enough' to come and respond to their urgent need? I can feel the angst and helplessness they likely felt - waiting, hoping, trusting that Jesus would come. Did they feel ignored, betrayed, or abandoned as they waited and watched their brother slip away? This passage invites us to get very real with God as we identify and name our own places where God does not seem to respond to our urgent need. Be gentle with yourself as you bring those times into your prayer with God. Notice how God's compassionate love meets you. If it is overwhelming to be in this place of need, gently return to a safe and loving place you have experienced God's presence before. Allow that memory to strengthen you into the permanence and steadfastness of God's love.

John 11:1-10 (NLT)
A man named Lazarus was sick. He lived in Bethany with his sisters, Mary and Martha. 2 This is the Mary who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair. Her brother, Lazarus, was sick. 3 So the two sisters sent a message to Jesus telling him, “Lord, your dear friend is very sick.”
4 But when Jesus heard about it he said, “Lazarus’s sickness will not end in death. No, it happened for the glory of God so that the Son of God will receive glory from this.” 5 So although Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, 6 he stayed where he was for the next two days. 7 Finally, he said to his disciples, “Let’s go back to Judea.”
8 But his disciples objected. “Rabbi,” they said, “only a few days ago the people in Judea were trying to stone you. Are you going there again?”
9 Jesus replied, “There are twelve hours of daylight every day. During the day people can walk safely. They can see because they have the light of this world. 10 But at night there is danger of stumbling because they have no light.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What did you hear as you listened or read the text? Did something particular catch your attention? Bring it into meditative 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.

Rest in quiet trust in Jesus’ loving presence. Savor any consoling words or pictures given to you.

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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.

Keeping Watch

Repeatedly Jesus invites us to pay attention and keep watch. The immediate, the now, this present moment is what we are given. Yet we are easily distracted from giving our whole attention to it.

What gift does the present moment hold for us? Jesus beckons us to receive the ever giving gift of the present moment.  Jean-Pierre de Caussade calls this gift the Sacrament of the Present Moment.

What makes the present moment holy, set apart for you? Where do you find the courage to pay attention to it with reverence? Can I be present to myself or another in the moment, noticing Christ's presence within it?

Be patient and kind to yourself as you unwrap the gift.

Mark 13:32-37 (MSG)
“But the exact day and hour? No one knows that, not even heaven’s angels, not even the Son. Only the Father. So keep a sharp lookout, for you don’t know the timetable. It’s like a man who takes a trip, leaving home and putting his servants in charge, each assigned a task, and commanding the gatekeeper to stand watch. So, stay at your post, watching. You have no idea when the homeowner is returning, whether evening, midnight, cockcrow, or morning. You don’t want him showing up unannounced, with you asleep on the job. I say it to you, and I’m saying it to all: Stay at your post. Keep watch.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
As you listened to or read the text, was there a word or phrase which "shimmered" for you? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

Where or when have you been most aware of the presence of God, within you or around you? Upon reflection, what do you notice about that time?

What helps you or encourages you to stay present, attentive and watching for Jesus? What do you notice when you watch?

Do you notice what distracts you from the present moment? Sometimes, simply naming the sources of distraction can be a starting place to become more present.

Eagerly waiting

The Holy Spirit continually intercedes for us according to the will of God. The Spirit is ever present, helping us in our weakness, giving us greater hope and consolation. We eagerly wait for what we do not see...

Romans 8:22-27 HCSB

For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together with labor pains until now.  And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. Now in this hope we were saved, yet hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with patience.

In the same way the Spirit also joins to help in our weakness, because we do not know what to pray for as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with unspoken groanings. And He who searches the hearts knows the Spirit’s mind-set, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.

For Your Reflection and Prayer:

What did you hear as you listened to the text? Have a conversation with Jesus about what you heard.

How might the Holy Spirit be interceding for you now? Ask to join the Spirit's prayer.

As we are in the season of waiting, how is it for you to wait for what you do not see? How is the Spirit with you in your waiting?