Considering the Day Before Good Friday…

     Today, the day before Good Friday, is known as Holy, or Maundy Thursday. On the day before Christ’s cruel crucifixion, it is worth considering crucial events and pivotal words spoken by Jesus.

     During the ‘Last Supper,” the final meal with his beloved disciples, Jesus bent low to wash their feet, giving them an example of servant leadership.

     The word maundy is derived from a Latin word, which means commandment and refers to the commandment Jesus gave to his disciples after washing their feet.

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. (John 13:34 NKJV)

     Theologian John Piper says the ‘greatest prayer in the world’[1] was prayed on Maundy Thursday in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus cried,

Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me. Yet not my will, but yours be done. (Mark 14:36)

     During the 2019 season of Lent, I’ve read two impactful books. Sharon Hodde Miller, who will be the keynote speaker at our church’s upcoming women’s retreat, [2] is the author of Free of Me…Why Life is Better When It’s NOT ABOUT YOU. The second is Forgetfulness…The Path to True Christian Joy by Timothy Keller. (Note: I recommend both books but would suggest you first read Keller’s short booklet, which was instrumental in Miller’s insights.)

     Jesus’ prayer in the Garden presents the ultimate example of “self- forgetfulness.”

     While reading these two books, I was reminded first about how preoccupied with me I can be. Secondly, I felt encouraged that despite my tendency toward self-absorption, I see personal growth. I recognize greater willingness to lay aside my will because I sense God is calling me to a purpose beyond that which comes naturally or feels most comfortable.

     A recurring thought has occupied my mind the past few weeks:

God always calls us to good.
God never calls us to easy.

The Chapel of the Holy Cross, Sedona, Arizona, March 2019 by Ron Reeve

     During these final days before Resurrection Sunday, my prayer for each of us is that we will—to the best of our ability and understanding—follow the example of Jesus who laid aside his will in order to give us the gracious gift of redemption.

Easter blessings to you and all you love…

Sue Reeve

  1. http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-greatest-prayer-in-the-world-maundy-thursday
  2. For information about the retreat: https://lakecity.church/event/breatheretreat/

 

Finding Beauty in ‘My Father’s World’…

     The last couple weeks of March, my husband and I escaped for a mini-snowbird retreat. We love our beautiful hometown, Coeur d’Alene, but getting away to a warmer, sunnier climate at the tail end of winter is, I believe, good for one’s soul.

     This was my first trip to Arizona, and I was reminded repeatedly of the unique and very special beauty of the desert. The diversity of God’s creation never ceases to amaze me.

     While in Arizona, friends from Phoenix who summer in Coeur d’Alene, took us to a favorite Mexican restaurant, which, by the way, served some of the best salsa I’ve ever tasted. My thoughtful friend gave us a framed photo with a card containing words from a poem written in 1901 by Maltbie Davenport Babcock. The poem, My Father’s World, was set to music, and you may be familiar with the rendition sung by Amy Grant a few years ago.

     Babcock, a Presbyterian minister, loved to take morning walks. Before leaving, he told his wife, “I’m going out to see my Father’s world.”

     I hope you’ll enjoy today’s Listening on the Journey… post with photos Ron took in Arizona, followed by selected stanzas from Reverend Babcock’s poem.[1]

This is my Father’s world
E’en yet to my listening ears,
All nature sings, and around me rings,
The music of the spheres.

This is my Father’s world.
I rest me in the thought,
Of rocks and trees, of skies and seas,
His hand the wonders wrought.

This is my Father’s world.
The birds that their carols raise,
The morning light, the lily white,
Declare their maker’s praise.

(Sweet Mexican Love Birds like this little guy live in trees around my sister and brother-in-law’s house.)

This is my Father’s world.
From His eternal throne,
He watch doth keep when I’m asleep,
And I am not alone.

This is my Father’s world.
I walk a desert lone.
In a bush ablaze to my wondering gaze,
God makes His glory known.

This is my Father’s world.
Now closer to Heaven bound,
For dear to God is the earth Christ trod,
No place but is holy ground.

This is my Father’s world.
His love has filled my breast,
I am reconciled, I am His child,
My soul has found His rest.

This is my Father’s world.
The battle is not done.
Jesus who died shall be satisfied.
And earth and Heaven be one.

This is my Father’s world.
Should my heart be ever sad?
The Lord is King – let the Heavens ring.
God reigns – let the earth be glad.

(Don’t you love the way the cactus on the right seems to be waving ‘good-bye?’)

During this week leading up to Easter, may you be blessed by the beauty found all around in our Father’s world…

Sue Reeve

 

  1. In its entirety at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:This_is_My_Fathers_World_poem_

Traveling Through Off-Kilter Times…

      Ever notice how some days feel out of balance? Routine activities seem a bit askew? Life just feels off-kilter?

      I’ll never forget one off-kilter day.

      I’d spent several hours talking with a group of folks who were reeling from the suicide death of their friend’s teenage daughter.

      The beautiful child’s final act was inconceivable.

            Emerging tragic details were unbelievable.

                  Comprehension of their new reality was surreal.

      I looked forward to returning to the predictable comfort of home that day. Before beginning my drive, I stopped to check a text. Our daughter asked, “Do you and Dad want to come over about 7:00 to learn whether you’re having a new granddaughter or grandson?”

      A few hours later, anticipation grew for anxious grandparents-to-be. Our precious granddaughter, Emmi, swung her little pink baseball bat with all her 4-year-old might. At last the piñata burst open. Blue colored candies scattered every which way. It’s a Boy!!!

      Excitement left us exhilarated.

            Peals of laughter erupted when Emmi announced she wanted her baby brother named “Russel Wilson” after the popular Seahawks quarterback.

                  Our family’s new reality seemed one of good fortune.

      Later that evening while rehashing these two events, their juxtaposition didn’t make sense. In one household, devastated family and friends agonized the tragic suicide death of a mere child while our family delighted in It’s-a- Boy! joy.

      Life journeys are never balanced perfectly. We experience both minor-off-kilter days as well as major-off-kilter seasons.

      So, how does a person of faith navigate off-kilter times?

      A worthwhile starting point is considering the immutable—never-changing—character of God.

      Our human condition is mutable.

            Bodies change. Wrinkles appear. Health wanes.

                  Babies are born. Loved ones die.

                        Relationships transition. Responsibilities fluctuate.

                              Conflicts keep our world in turmoil.

      Scriptures assure God never changes[1], will never leave nor forsake us[2], and that God is, and was and is to come[3].

      Holding fast to these truths ensures that while life may feel off-kilter, we can cling to God who remains rock solid.

Consider & Imagine:

  • Consider off-kilter days or seasons you’ve experienced? What helped you regain emotional and/or spiritual equilibrium? In what ways has God’s never-changing character helped you?
  • Take a few moments to imagine a video playing in your mind of a difficult season you transitioned through. Look at where God’s immutable character was at play during that time?

Prayer:

God who was and is and is to come,

When events of life throw me off-kilter, expand my capacity to trust in your immutable character. Remind my heart that even in my most difficult days, you will never abandon me. Amen

Instead of naming him ‘Russel Wilson,’ Emmi’s little brother is Reeve Benjamin. Last Halloween, Reeve sported a Seahawks jersey bearing Wilson’s #3!

Blessings on your journey…

Sue Reeve

  1. Hebrews 13:8
  2. (Deuteronomy 31:5

    Revelation 1:8