Augustine’s Confessions My Confessions

“Grant me, Lord, to know and understand which is first, to call on Thee or to praise Thee? and, again, to know Thee or to call on Thee? for who can call on Thee, not knowing Thee? for he that knoweth Thee not, may call on Thee as other than Thou art. Or, is it rather, that we call on Thee that we may know Thee? but how shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? or how shall they believe without a preacher? and they that seek the Lord shall praise Him: for they that seek shall find Him, and they that find shall praise Him.” (St. Augustine, Confessions, Bk1, Ch1).

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ice cream shop

I played ice cream shop with my favorite toddler yesterday!  Family by choice can be so comforting and loving even at times when you can’t visit your family by birth.  I do miss my sister and my sister’s two daughters.  But while I can’t visit my nieces, I get to visit my friends’ kids and oh yes, I get to visit my friends as well, and I just feel so loved!  So glad God shows me love one way or another!!

p.s. after playing ice cream shop, my favorite toddler’s parents took us to a real ice cream shop!

Self-pity

No one wants to listen to someone expressing self-pity.  I was told yesterday, stop this self-pity.  That’s probably what promoted me to come to my blog site this  morning.  I have thoughts, feelings, and want to express them.  No one wants to hear them, no one I can think of.  But maybe there are some people who don’t mind hearing self-pity because they understand that it’s natural sometimes to feel self-pity and that it’s not necessarily a permanent disposition!  I feel enormous expectations, stress, and fear of failure and self doubt.  Sometimes I feel confident, but sometimes I feel bankrupt of any confidence.

I am a person of faith.  And yes, my faith makes a difference in my life.  But you know, when I’m drowning and feel overwhelmed with emotions that are threatening to consume my sanity, it’s hard to turn to God.  But it is precisely in these moments that God, if ever, could help me.  So many oxymorons in life.  In the moments when I need God, are exactly moments when I feel I can’t turn to God or forget that I have a God who cares about me!

So I write for myself, on this blog, hoping someone would read these words, but also that as I write them that I would hear the sound of my voice crying in the wilderness, and that hearing my words, would remind me of who I am.  Even when I feel utterly alone, yes, remember who I am.  That I am a child of God!!!

Love remains always

I’m sad.

Two years ago today was Esther’s funeral.

I still remember her mom collapsing on the casket and sobbing.

Losses are heart breaking.

Esther, I love you.

Love remains always.

Hope that “God loves you” is reality and not something you hope for.

I wish you were here because I miss you so much.

Last Days…Children of the Living God

It really feels like we have approached the last days… I’m preaching tomorrow about how to pray during these times.  How can we pray through grief, sorrow, and doubts?  I found in Hosea 1:10 an answer to crisis we are facing here and now.  Hosea was told to marry a harlot to show Israel that they have acted as harlots.  This is because Israel turned away from God.  Israel was committing a spiritual harlotry by forsaking the Lord.  First the kingdom of the House of Israel, the northern kingdom will fall.  the House of Judah, the southern kingdom would at first be saved.  But it too would fall.  It would come to the point where God would say, “you are not my people and I am not your God.”  But God’s love persists through the people of Israel turning away from God.  In Hosea 1:10 it is written: “in the place where it was said to them ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God” (Hosea 1:10).

What makes one a child of God?  People of Israel were chosen by God.  They had a covenantal relationship with God.  There was Abrahamic (Genesis 15) and Mosaic (Exodus 3) covenant.  And the covenant renewed in and through Jesus.  Because of the covenant, God will hear people of Israel and God will hear us when we cry out in prayer.  Prayer is how we communicate with the living God.  In Luke, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray.  We can certainly pray the Lord’s prayer each and every day in every moment, especially when we don’t know how to pray.  But especially when we can’t pray or wonder why we should bother with prayer, it is time to pray.  Times like these, we wonder where is God?  Why are the innocent dying?  Why is there suffering that seems unnecessary?  Such questions could lead to sorrow, despair and doubts.

Doubt is “kosher” for faith.  What I mean is that doubt isn’t the opposite of faith.  In the NT, a father comes to Jesus and asks that Jesus, if he is able, to heal his son.  Jesus says “If you are able!–All things can be done for the one who believes” (Mark 9:23).  Then immediately the father of the sick child cried out “I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).  As this father prayed, prayer is possible in belief and unbelief.  This man said, I believe, help my unbelief.  He believed and had doubts or at the same time also didn’t believe.  Sounds strange.  But in reality, we believe and we don’t believe, have doubts, questions, and yet our faith will endure through prayer.

To this end, I suggest praying through psalms at times there are no words of your own to pray with.  Use words of Psalm 13, “How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long?  How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2).  Pray using the words of Psalm 85: “Lord, you were favorable to your land; you restored the fortunes of Jacob.  You forgave the iniquity of your people; you pardoned all their sin.  You withdrew all your wrath; you turned from your hot anger. Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away our indignation toward us” (Psalm 85:1-4).

If you want to hold on to your faith when you feel you couldn’t possibly believe any more, pray.  When you start to doubt, pray.  Pray not to hide from the world and to remain inactive in the face of injustice.  Pray that God would give us courage, hope and faith.  It may be for some that praying is not desirable, feeling too distant from a state where one could pray.  You can’t force prayer, you can’t force faith, and why would you want to.  But if you want to try to hold on to your faith in these days when it seems we have or are nearing the end of times, then try praying to God, because if there is a God, and if that God is a living God, God hears prayers and if nothing else is changed in the world, something in  us will change.  That something in us that changes can bring about change in the world.

Few weeks ago, I was blessed with this Franciscan benediction after a prayer meeting for racial reconciliation.  I leave you with this Franciscan benediction.

 

A Franciscan Benediction

May God bless us with discomfort at easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that we may live deep within our hearts.

May God bless us with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that we may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless us with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that we may reach out our hands to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless us with enough foolishness to believe that we can make a difference in this world, so that we can do what others claim cannot be done.

Amen.