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The “Yes, and…” Message of God’s Love

Written 2/21/2018

     This morning when I walked from the bedroom into our family room, the first thing I saw was a notice on the television announcing Billy Graham, age 99, had died.

     The announcement impacted me in a profound way. All morning I’ve been on the verge of tears.

     I’m not sad Billy Graham died. There’s not one doubt in my heart this man, who walked consistently in humility and whose ministry influence was significant, has joined what Hebrews 12:1 called “a great cloud of witnesses.”

     Billy Graham’s message to the masses was simple:

          God so loved…

               Because God so loved, He came to earth as Jesus to live as man and show humanity
               the exact character of God’s love…

                    Jesus is the way and the truth because…

                         God so loved…

                              Always!

                              Everyone!

     I guess I’m feeling raw emotionally because the simple, pure message: “God so loved…” seems to have become so complicated, so harsh, so polluted.

     My sphere of influence is limited. I know only a few people read my Listening on the Journey… blog post. This morning, to the few who read these words, my heartfelt message is simple.

          God still loves…

               Always,

               Everyone,

               and with every inferior fiber of my being, I want to convey the message of God’s
               love.

     If the pigment of your complexion is black, brown, white or any variation thereof, God
     loves you!

     If you’re intelligent, physically strong, and attractive, God loves you!

     If your mental or physical capacity is limited, if you feel unattractive, God loves you!

     If you’re in the barren winter season of your life journey, God loves you!

     If you’re in the reaping, gathering, preserving autumn season, God loves you!

     If you’re in the exhilarating, often exhausting summer season, God loves you!

     If you’re in the budding season of springtime, God loves you!

     If you’re enjoying plenty, God loves you!

     If you’re suffering in poverty, God loves you!

     If you’re female, God loves you!

     If you’re male, God loves you!

     If you’re heterosexual, homosexual, or have questions or complications surrounding
     sexuality, God loves you!

     If you’ve been loved well by those created to love you well, God loves you!

     If you’ve been—or currently are—abused or neglected by those created to love you well,

     God loves you!

     If your political bend is conservative, God loves you!

     If your political bend is progressive or liberal, God loves you!

     If you’re an atheist, God loves you!

     If you’re a Christian Catholic, Evangelical, Fundamentalist,

     Pentecostal or Mainline Protestant, God loves you!

     If your religious belief is Non-Christian, God loves you!

     Life is complicated. I understand that.

     People’s lives are filled with layer upon layer of ‘issues.’

     The world in which we live is riddled with sometimes incomprehensible violence and
     pain.

     You—like me—may have more questions than answers.

     Perhaps these are the very reasons why the pure and simple message of God’s love has the potential to create profound change, to motivate to action individuals, groups, cultures.

     The message of God’s love is not a “Yes, but…” message. The message of God’s love is one of “Yes, and…”

     God loves, and that’s why God cares about issues causing humanity’s hurts.

     God loves, and because of that love, wants all humanity to know Truth.

     God loves, and for some reason I simply cannot understand, has entrusted humans—like

     Billy Graham, like you, like me—to be emissaries of divine love.

     God loves, and that’s why Jesus—Emmanuel, God with Us—came.

This day,

     whomever you are,

          wherever you are,

               whatever questions you may be asking,

                    however great your pain,

I’m praying somehow, in some way or through someone, WE will capture a glimmer of God’s amazing and incomprehensible love for us, for those we love, for those whose lives intersect with ours, and for all humanity…

Sue Reeve

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Vade Mecum…Go with Me

     In a little over two weeks, I’ll board a plane about the same time the sun is rising. Many hours and over 5,000 miles later, I’ll join a group in Madrid, Spain. Together, we’ll embark on an eleven-day educational pilgrimage.

     This is a new experience for me and I’m beyond excited.

     As part of this spiritual adventure, the leader of our group encourages each ‘pilgrim’ to develop a vade mecum. Since this too was new to me, I did a bit of online research.

Definition of Vade Mecum by Merriam-Webster[1]

Vade mecum is Latin for go with me (it derives from the Latin verb vadere, meaning “to go.”) In English, “vade mecum” has been used (since at least 1629) of manuals or guidebooks sufficiently compact to be carried in a deep pocket.

     Dr. Debbie Gill, our pilgrimage leader, suggests we begin assembling our vade mecum now, “complete with poems, prayers, blessings, art, photos, images, song lyrics and anything else that comes to mind as soul encouragement for the journey.”

     I guess the new journal I purchased—on sale at Michael’s for $5.00—will become my vade mecum!

     As I begin work on this new project, I’d like to share some of the entries with you, my Listening on the Journey… friends. The first is a poem from the book, Guerrillas of Grace, Prayers for the Battle by Ted Loder.[2] (By the way, I recommend this book highly.)

     Here’s a portion of the first prayer I’ve entered in my vade mecum. The background is a photograph Ron took of St. Thomas Aquainas Church in Reno, Nevada, when we were there for our granddaughter’s college graduation last May.

Wherever you are, blessings on your journey of faith…

Sue Reeve

  1. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vade%20mecum
  2. Guerrillas of Grace Prayers for the Battle, Copyright 1981 Ted Loder, Augsburgsburg Books

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Abounding in Love, Knowledge and Insight

     A recent Facebook post both surprised and impressed me. The photo of an acquaintance—lovely, with her warm, welcoming smile, sun-kissed skin and long silvery locks—announced she was able to check complete GED off of her ‘bucket list.’

     I was surprised, because this lady is articulate, an influential leader, and obviously very intelligent. I would have been less amazed to read she had returned to her college alma mater for a class reunion.

     Impressed, not only with her accomplishment, but her vulnerability. It seems most of us have parts of our histories that cause shame or create feelings of deficiency, and too often, we insist on keeping them tucked away in the dark closets of our souls.

     Plus, I’m always impressed when a person is committed to learning. Lifelong learning is one of my core values. I never want to stop learning and know from comments I’ve received from Listening on the Journey… readers, many of you share the same value.

     One reason I love to learn is that as I grow in God-directed, life-giving knowledge, more love and grace brim over in me—not only love and grace for others, but also for myself.

     The more Christ-like, soul-healing “ah-ha’s” I discover from sources such as scripture; books, which include a variety of genres; or people who are more well educated or further along in their faith journey than I, the more my soul absorbs. This equips me to share soul-healing information and strategies with those whose journeys intersect mine.

     My friend’s Facebook post inspires me to keep on learning. It also provides the opportunity to celebrate your educational quest, whether it involves:

     completing the GED.

          beginning a new wellness regimen.

               enrolling in a college class.

                    confronting an addiction.

                              tackling a challenging craft.

                                   committing to a spiritual goal.

     My prayer for us this day echoes the Apostle Paul.

Dear Lord, please help each one of us grow more and more in knowledge and depth of insight so that our love may abound, and we can see clearly that which pleases you and is best for us and those we influence. – Amen

Blessings on our journeys of “abounding…”

Sue Reeve