Ladies, I nearly dropped my latte just now. Truly, moments ago I had an experience that stopped me in mid-sip, and nudged me to change the title of this post to what you see above. I'll explain in a minute. I'll try to catch my breath while I tell you about our prayer requests.
Today, your sisters have asked you to talk to God about:
*GRACE ANNE who experienced a God-thing right at her locker a few days ago. You'll want to read her comment. Loving God, we give you thanks.
* MELODY who had an almost complete stranger pray for her in a way that made her feel as if God were whispering Melody's needs into the girl's ear. Loving God, we give you thanks.
* GRACE ANNE whose youth group retreat was amazing and left her feeling closer to God than ever. Loving God, we give you thanks.
* RACHEL whose struggle with jealousy got a start on healing when she was on a pilgrimage this last weekend. Loving God, we give you thanks.
* THERESE who is struggling. Merciful God, hear our prayer.
* AMY who feels herself straying away from God. She wants in her heart to become a better Christian but when it comes to actually putting that into practice, it doesn't go too well. Merciful God, hear our prayer.
* JYLLENNA is no longer afraid to say to God, "I'll do whatever you want me to do." She is "entering a whole new season of obedience." Loving God, we give you thanks.
* NANCY -- me -- because as a result of the work we've done together here on the blog ever since Advent, I want to start a new project that is nudging at me -- only I don't see how I can possibly squeeze one more thing into an already bulging schedule. Merciful God, hear our prayer.
Your Responses To Our Last Post:
I invited you to express any doubts and questions you have in your life with God:
RACHEL: If Jesus wants her to lay down her life, take up her cross, and follow wherever Jesus leads -- does all the stuff she has to do now in terms of school and soccer and family really matter? Is that laying down her life?
AMY: Why is it so hard to put Christianity into practice?
SASHA: What happens if you commit a sin you don't even know about? How are you supposed to repent and be forgiven? And what happens to Christians who die before they have a chance to repent of all the sins they did that day? THERESE and RACHEL responded to her with love and wisdom. Where were the girls like you when I was growing up?
MELODY: While studying Dante's Inferno in college, she's questioning whether some things are unforgiveable, and whether God's nature is more wrathful or loving, and how God can be a God of love if hell is really the way it's described in the book. In terms of her frustration with her own life -- am I doing what I'm supposed to be doing? -- she has come to the conclusion (and a correct one, I think) that she needs to stay with it, and not stop questioning but seek answers instead of letting the questions build up inside of her. She's going to remember that no matter what she may be confused about, God DOES love her. And all of us.
And then there was PAIGE -- which brings me to today's session, and that extraordinary moment I had when I began to write this post . . .
OBEDIENCE SESSION #6
READ: Before I start writing a post in this series, I sit down with the Gospel of John and look for the next passage where Jesus further defines obedience. Yesterday the passage that came up was a hard one, which led to all our questions and doubts. I knew it was going to keep getting harder, this obedience thing, because as he goes on with his ministry on earth, Jesus asks us to go deeper and deeper, and to have faith in things that are confusing and almost impossible to understand. (big breath)
But as I waited for my latte to cool enough for me to take my first sip, I went on into John anyway. The way was murky. Jesus wasn't saying anything really specific, you know? Everybody was trying to figure him out logically, and he kept giving them obtuse answers:
THE PEOPLE: "Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from, but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from." (John 7:26-27)
JESUS: "You know me, and you know where I am from; I have not come on my own, but the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. I know him because I am from him, and he sent me." (28)
Stil nothing specifically about obedience, so I read on. In the next scene, Jesus is there at the last day of the festival where all this is going on (the Festival of Booths) and he cries out: "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, 'Out of the believer's heart shall flow rivers of living water.'" The passage then goes on to explain, in retrospect: "Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified."
That's when I got it. Okay, REAL obedience is about living in the Spirit which WE have now. It isn't just about figuring out what God wants us to do in every situation -- it's about being thirsty for God and drinking him in the way Jesus shows us -- by living in the Spirit.
It's not logical. It's not something we can "figure out". That's what I wanted to tell you. But how was I going to do that?
I wasn't sure I knew. But I put the title: "Thought Experiments" on the subject line (it has to do with Einstein and isn't worth explaining at the moment) and began to read your comments as I always do just before I start the post.
And there was PAIGE's comment. When she came back from the Dominican Republic over a year ago she'd read about the Holy Spirit in Acts, how it descended upon the disciples and early Christians, the power and awe of it completely unfathomable.
That's when I almost dropped my latte. You see why.
Paige's doubt question is: "Is it still here? Do we still have the Holy Spirit burning inside of us? How am I not healing people and speaking in tongues?" (actually I can answer that -- Paul explains later that we all have different gifts; I'm not speaking in tongues either, Paige) Basically she wants to know: WHAT HAPPENED TO THE HOLY SPIRIT?
PONDER: With God, explore that question. Where is she, that Holy Spirit? Do you ever experience it? Does it ever burn in you? Can you imagine what would happen if it did? What might you be called to do right now that it would TAKE the Holy Spirit to move you to do? Are you trying to understand God instead of entering into the mystery of God?
PRAY: Simply pray: "God, I'm thirsty for you." Or "God, I want to be thirsty for you." Then listen. Just listen for the still, small voice.*
NUDGED TO ACTION: I'll leave this one to the Holy Spirit . . .
SHARE: Whatever you're moved to. I'll go first. I'm clearly moved to take on that project I mentioned in our prayer section. I am going to stop trying to figure out how I can possibly do it and simply let this one unfold. I may be inviting you to join me.
As for that treasure chest, if I could put all of you in it, I would.
Nancy Rue * That still small voice passage is the theme of the book that's coming out in August, Merciful Scar. What are you doing, Paige, reading my journals?