HE is enough

From today’s devotional message by LHM DAILY DEVOTION:

“Jesus is enough. In the end, it doesn’t matter if we are on an emotional mountaintop or down in the valleys of suffering – whether we keep company with the great or get ignored with the poor. Jesus, our savior is with us.”

Does this truth comfort me? Is it encouraging to know that I am not alone fighting my battles? Always – in the struggle with pain, in the uncertainty of aging, in the turmoil of politics, in the valleys of suffering – always He is there. His word and promises bring not only comfort, but also joy to life in a broken world.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give your rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” MATTHEW 11:28-30

poverty or simplicity ?

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So many of us have lived our lives placing unmerited value on the opinions of others while discrediting our personal truth and reality.  Breaking the shackles of people-pleasing requires honest self-appraisal, a healthy dose of self-esteem, and an enormous commitment to self-realization.  

LIVE FREE OR DIE

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It is not surprising that many of my daily inspirational readings focus on Matthew  11:29 –

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

For my generation, these are probably the most difficult times Americans have ever experienced.  Our nation has been cut in two by opposing political forces and we are struggling with an unfathomed health crisis.

We have been bamboozled by a capitalistic economy which places unmerited value on materialism, property and assets leaving the majority of us in the lower echelon of a prosperous society.  We are seen not as symbols of simplicity, but as statistics of poverty.  We have been victimized by a social culture which tells Americans that we are better than the rest of the world.  We have been deceived about the earth’s resources – that there is not enough for all mankind; therefore, we should horde and accumulate.  We are continually bombarded with our deficiencies rather than our blessings.  The cup is always half empty rather than half full.  But, Matthew 11:29 says that we don’t have to carry those burdens.

The Gospels are often called ‘the Good News’.  Contemporary theologians tend to emphasize the salvific promise of this ‘Good News’ as the salient message.  However, the ancients who wrote the scriptures in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were also carrying a message to the disenfranchised, the poor, the oppressed, the underprivileged, the down-trodden not so much about eternity in heaven but about joyous survival on earth.

This message is one that proclaims a freedom from the problems and cares of a materialistic world.  That freedom happens when priorities change.  Today’s America is just a blip on history’s radar screen.  Yes, it is important and we need to pay attention, but it is not important enough to throw our lives into continual depression, fear and defeat.

What can I change about today, what can I not change about today?  Pray about it,  surrender it and then get on with life.  Let Jesus handle it.  His yoke is easy and his burden is light.  In Psalms we are told to “be still and know God.”  The Jewish tradition renders this as “cease striving and know God.”  The wisdom of Alcoholics Anonymous says, “let go and let God.”

I will trust in those who have “been there and done that.” smiley face 2

 

Turn Your Eyes

I know your troubles, I know that your heart is heavy with concern and fear, that you are severely challenged by the violence and insecurities of this world.  Look into His eyes, see what I have seen and know that my Father, and yours, will gently guide us through the difficult times we are facing.

Picture1.pngconfession (2)Just imagine Jesus holding us in loving arms, soothing our hearts, asking us to trust him…

I have been there, I understand.  Have you ever read what they did to me?  They called me a heretic, a blasphemer, and a charlatan.  All I wanted was peace and brotherly love, to live my life as a beacon for the Father whom I worshipped.  I believed that all people were equal in my Father’s eyes, that all should equally participate in his abundance. They hunted me like a criminal, beat me, stripped me of my clothing, humiliated me, flogged me, spat upon me, and then nailed me to a wooden cross to die an ignoble death. 

But, I survived.  2000 years later people still quote me and read about me.  Now, loved ones, you tell me who died on that cross?  Those who persecuted me and drove the nails are nothing more than ashes and bones, but I am still alive and well in the eyes of millions of people.

I have been there, I know your pain.  The illness and devastation in your world today – I understand.  The possessed, the lepers, the lame, the plague ridden were part of my world.  The corruption, the crime, the deceit, the hypocrisy were also part of my world.  Just trust me for I have endured it all and I have conquered everything put upon me simply by dying to the things of this earth and turning eyes to a power greater than any on earth.  I AM ALIVE!

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  MATTHEW 11: 28-30 NIV

yoked

jesus in prayer

Being serious about life is hard work and soul-wearying.  Have you ever asked yourself if the entity you name as God truly wants life to be a burden?  Just look at Jesus, the one Christians revere as Savior.  Regardless of his divinity or not, regardless of his virgin birth or not, regardless of his bodily resurrection or not, he was presented as a portrait of compassionate and joyful fulfillment by the ancient writers.  He enjoyed a good wedding celebration with friends, he ate foods forbidden by his Judaic upbringing, he did not wash his hands ceremoniously before breaking bread, he counseled and healed lepers, prostitutes, tax collectors and others considered unclean and immoral by his contemporaries.  He exhorted his friends and disciples to follow his example.

The Book of John, chapter 14, says that Jesus responded to his disciples, who were dismayed by his pending departure, saying, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  I have never been able to believe that he was telling his disciples to establish a new religious cult or that church fathers centuries later should create a revolutionary theology and call it Christianity.  No, Jesus was teaching them how to live a contented and peaceful life in a cruel and savage 1st century, Roman occupied culture.  Very simply the Way, the Truth, and the Life was his path of spiritual enlightenment shared with fellow Jews within the parameters of Judaism.

Through parables and stories he provided an ageless example for all of us to practice in pursuit of a meaningful existence in this life’s experience.  It has nothing to do with religion or correct theology or a list of “thou shalt and thou shalt not.”  Jesus was Jewish yet he rebelled at the litany of doctrines and laws which Judaism embraced.  He knew the penalty for his heresy would be death yet refused to denounce his truth within his own heart, an indwelling God.  That’s the example passed on to us – know the heart’s truth and live by it even unto death. 

“Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest.  For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I put upon you is light.”  MATTHEW 11:28-30

I have been struggling recently – with personal issues, with faith, with the horrific injustices of government and institutions.  My answers were not forthcoming because I had chosen to take my own yoke upon me.  It’s a yoke of concern and worry, of control and judgement. I failed to remember that there is only one who can fix my crazy world.  His yoke is easy, his load is light.  He showed me how to do this with the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Lord, here’s my yoke; I want yours instead.  Lay it on me.

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K.I.S.S.

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest calling my name.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.

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Keep It Simple, Stupid

For those of you who are unfamiliar with 12 step recovery programs, this life-changing saying hangs on most meeting room walls.  It shares wall space along with “Let Go, Let God”, “Easy Does It”, “One Day at a Time”, and the Serenity Prayer.

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

But, for mortals, especially those of us recovering from addictions, keeping it simple is, well, not all that simple.  It took numerous collisions with “self-will run riot” and retractions of my surrender to God to reach any semblance of simplicity in my life.

At the year of my 28th sobriety anniversary, I was plunged into the horrors of bankruptcy in 2009 due largely to the world-wide recession.  As small business operators, my partner and I suffered equally the devastation of losing a trucking business of 15 years, the equipment, the accumulated toys, the savings, great credit standing, and my house.  More devastating to me, a man 62 years old, was the loss of hope for a financial recovery.  I came out of the bankruptcy tired and disillusioned.

“Aha,” said He, my Higher Power.  “Maybe now you will learn from me.  Why not let me run your life?  I am not that difficult to live with.”

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart;  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”  Matthew 11:29

My life changed.  Gone were all the concerns about finances and credit ratings and running a business.  Gone were the responsibilities of owning a house and a bunch of toys.  I slept like a baby at night and found voluminous amounts of time to walk, hike in the woods, jog, read, and enjoy leisure time with friends.  I embraced Gandhi’s exhortation to “Live simply so that others may simply live.”  And I learned to live life claiming the words of Jesus in the book of Matthew, chapter 11.

I think Jesus would have approved of our modern-day acronym KISS.  What do you think?

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just breathe

“be, just be”

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“Come unto me, all ye that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11: 28-30

If I can’t find comfort in the lyrics to the Jonny Diaz song and the Matthew verse attributed to Jesus, then I am probably too busy with the insanity of this world.  One does not have to profess Christianity in order to appreciate a place where life is good and chaos is non-existent.  For me, that place is at the feet of Jesus soaking in the peace available through His words and love.  It is a peace and love given freely to all who seek.  It is undeserved and unmerited grace from the center of a universal force which has been named with various names, but remains undefinable and indescribable.  Breathe, just breathe, and sit with me at His feet.

No demands, no expectations, no rules.  Life changes dramatically when we put on the yoke of Jesus because that yoke is light and easy.  Our efforts to be more righteous are futile because all the righteousness we can muster is as dung to the One who knows and sees everything.  Our good works keep our idle minds busy and temptation resistant, but we are loved regardless.  It’s mind-boggling.  No strings attached; be, just be.

But, when the freedom of this yoke which we assume is manifested in our lives, we will want to change, to be different from the rest of the world which mindlessly zooms past us every day.  We want to be centered in a faith that matters.  We want to see in others the same Jesus that has freed us from the burdens of this world and we want to share that Jesus in all that we say and do.  We become a spark of divinity that can’t be extinguished by chaos and frenzy.

“Breathe, just breathe.  Come and rest at his feet. Lay down what’s good and find what’s best.”