Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – August 21, 2020
By Guest Writer: Beth Bennett
Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:2, MSG
A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook: “If I’m honest, I went into quarantine mad at church people and not really liking them or church community. Wounds that come from the church community hurt deeply and stuck around. God used the community being removed from me to show me… that I have been a wounder, too. Confinement taught me many things, one being that the church community is a necessity. They serve as translators. They serve to interpret back to us what we are pouring out. Who doesn’t need that?”
I cringe when I think of the effects that some of the unloving mindsets I have operated under hurt people in my own life. I have found that “church people” are many times “mad people” because we have not experienced loving attachment on an on-going basis from the heart of God. Church people tend to work for this love, instead of from it.
This is where contemplative practices such as silence and solitude can transform our lives, and bring us to places of healing and freedom as we feel God’s delight in us–not because of any performance or behavior on our part, but simply because God loves hanging out with us! How can we possibly be accepting and loving towards others if we first do not live a received life of this very love from our heavenly Father?
“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first” (1 John 4:17-19, MSG).
What happens when all of our knowing and doing leaves an inner ache? I like how Ruth Haley Barton expresses the ultimate goal of inner healing is loving others, “Each of the spiritual disciplines—rightly practiced—is in some profound way, for the sake of others.”
I see Moses as the first person in the Bible who models for us how contemplation can transform our actions and service to the world. His early actions literally killed people and left to himself, he would have been incapable of being all God desired Him to be. Yet, God in His mercy, lovingly led him to his own personal quarantine of 40 years in the wilderness, into solitude, into a new place of fullness and effectiveness.
“Wherever there is something in our life that is not conformed to the image of Christ, there is a place where we are incapable of being all God wants us to be with others … a place where our life with others is hindered and limited and restricted in its effectiveness and in its fullness … a place where our life will tend to become disruptive and even destructive to others. We can never be all God wants us to be with others as long as that point of unlikeness to the image of Christ exists within us.” M. Robert Mulholland, Jr.
The encounters we have with God in solitude and the secret place are key to our personal freedom AND the freedom we seek to offer others.
“Attention, all! See the marvels of God! He plants flowers and trees all over the earth, Bans war from pole to pole, breaks all the weapons across his knee. “Step out of the traffic! Take a long, loving look at me, your High God, above politics, above everything” (Psalm 46:8-10, MSG).
Dear Lord, do your surgery of love in my quieted soul. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Here is a simple practice to grow in feeling God’s delight in you in your own practice of solitude. Adapted from “Anatomy of the Soul”, Dr. Curt Thompson.
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The encounters we have with God in solitude and the secret place are key to our personal freedom AND the freedom we seek to offer others. #wisdomhunters #solitude #truth #Jesus
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