messengers

messengers

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We had a rough week. 

It wasn’t related to the Coronavirus, but yet it was. The parameters established, although critical, can make situations more challenging and ladle stress on top of what already resided. The details aren’t important because I am confident at this crisis point, we can all fill in the blank regarding a hard circumstance compounded because of new limitations.

Today is better.

This past week when I was feeling a bit fragile and shaky, I paid particular attention to the words  read and heard. There seemed to be a repetition of words as well as harmony of theme.  I would have missed the impact of these words if I hadn’t decided to slow down, shunning stress and anxiety.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I believe what some might call a coincidence is simply a messenger or an invitation to pay attention. 

Over the years, I have practiced lectio divina which means divine or spiritual reading. Now before these Latin words cause you to glaze over, think of these two words as describing the posture you could take while listening to a friend. 

Imagine a friend sharing a piece of wisdom or insight. You listen and mull the words over in your mind. This is possible because you have made time, no hurrying or rushing to the next appointment.  You ask your friend to utter the words again and once again you listen, lingering over the words to see if they take on any new meaning. Without fear of redundancy or seeing rolling eyes, you ask your dear friend to say the words once more, because these are good words.  Your friend smiles, speaks the words aloud and now the conversation begins.

In lectio divina, you are the one who speaks the words aloud. You are the one who mulls and reflects and turns the words and phrases upside down until you are right side up. You are the one who initiates conversation with your Maker.

So many spoken words surround us on a given day. News reports, bad news, phone calls, words during a meeting, kids bickering over the remote control, or simply the people in your home talking loudly. 

How often do you read aloud, softly, and slowly?

When was the last time you heard words spoken over yourself, in your voice?

 What if you paused and considered what these particular words could teach or guide you on this particular day?

What if instead of reading words quickly and moving to the next task, you allowed yourself to linger over words over, over, and over again? 

How many epiphanies have been missed because of refusing to slow down and sit with words?

 Perhaps you might exit the time of lectio divina with a lighter heart, a new resolve, or with renewed hope. 

My invitation to you is to try lectio divina. 

I will guide you.  

Last week, I kept stumbling across two scriptures and a very well-known prayer. I heard the verses on podcasts and read them in books. The prayer was repeatedly posted by attendees in the chatbox of my Weight Watchers virtual meeting. Go figure.
I tend to rush over passages I know quite well. But when I read the words out loud and without hurrying, I uncover unmined gems.

Below I have included the prayer and the two scriptures I found great comfort in this past week.

Choose one.

Following these three options, I adapted the practice of lectio divina for you and have provided additional resources at the end of this post.

 

/1/

The Serenity Prayer

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;

courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.

 

/2/

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 6-7 (NLT)


/3/

That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?  Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.  And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear? These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Matthew 6:25-34 (NLT)

*****

  • Find a quiet place. I realize this could be a challenge during this time. 
  • If you desire, a pen and journal can be helpful to have on hand to jot down any thoughts which arise. 
  • Take a few breaths as you anticipate the gift of this invitation. 

 

Read the passage slowly and aloud.

What words or phrases stand out?
What do you sense God is saying to you through these words or phrases?

Take a moment to listen.

 

Read slowly and aloud a second time.

From those words and phrases, is there an invitation God is extending to you?
How do these words or phrases apply to your life right now?

Take a moment to listen.

 

Read slowly and aloud for a final time.

Journal your thoughts, questions, concerns, resistance, desire to change directions, or simply speak these words and have a conversation with God.
What do you need from God?
What can you thank Him for?
What are you grateful for?

 

Well done, friend. 

You can practice with any passage of your choosing. I hope you will.

Keep listening.

*****

May we experience familiar words in new and fresh ways this week.
May the loss of familiar ways draw us closer to God who longs to settle our spirits.
May we breathe and allow our spoken voice to bring new revelation or gentle comfort.
May we slow down and give ourselves permission to be soothed by our Maker.

 

More about lectio divina.

I have used this journal over the years.

This book.

 

words matter

words matter

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On Friday, Caleb had the opportunity to take part in the team competition

at the Oregon State Chess Tournament.

Before each round, once the players assume their position behind

white or black pieces, they allow parents to assume their own positions and

take pictures of their players.

With some coaxing, I was able to get Caleb to display a smile and

as I was snapping his photo

a coach from another team walked up,

looked from me to the two opponents

flanking the chess board and then his gaze returned to me.

While shaking his head he said,
“Oh, that’s going to be a tough one! But it will be alright.”

At first I didn’t process what he said or meant.

It happened so fast.

As he was patting his hand on my shoulder, I realized

what he was suggesting.

By then it was time to take our seats and let the chess play begin.

Thankfully this man’s comments were not heard by Caleb.

I sat in my chair a bit rattled and sent out a quick text message

to family telling them to pray because Caleb was going to have a tough match.

Why did I send up a smoke signal?

I took the words of a stranger who possessed zero knowledge about the match

in question only his assumptions.

I took his words and branded them to my mind, my heart and my son.

I took his words and made them factual.

Guess what?

Caleb won the match.

Of the two rounds he played on Friday,

he said his first match had been the easiest.

The second match, he found himself in trouble.

His opponent had him in check several times.

He recounted how he decided he was going to

turn the game around and he did.

He was patient and believed in himself.

I am not sharing the fact that Caleb won his first match

to prove the man wrong.

Or even to brag.

I share it because I want to illustrate how easily and quickly

stray and unfiltered words can penetrate my mind.

Has this ever happened to you?

I want to have a broader shield over my thoughts and heart.

In fact, I want to be more like Caleb.

As we were driving home from the tournament, I  reluctantly told him

the story of the man and his off-handed remark.

Caleb asked me if I went up to the coach later and told him

he had won.

I said no.

I wanted to tell him off but I didn’t.

He said,

“Mom, you should have told him who I was and

that I am a good chess player.”

He’s right.

Sometimes I forget.

I forget why we named him Caleb.

Caleb means faithful.

We named him Caleb because of  the Caleb in the Bible.

Caleb was one of a group of spies tasked to survey the land promised to

Israel.

The majority of the spies returned with reports of being terrified

because ‘there were giants in the land.”

But Caleb and Joshua believed God was giving them the land

no matter the obstacles placed before their eyes.

We wanted our Caleb to believe His God could

accomplish big things.

I shouldn’t be surprised that he believes big.

He has been faithful to work hard in chess and has

set goals for himself each year.

His faithfulness (and the faithfulness of his coach Richard) are

the reason he was able to stare down an opponent without fear.

Words matter.

The words we say.

The words we hear.

Let’s make it our aim to say words which bring

courage and don’t discourage.

Let’s determine today when we hear a word designed

to defeat, instead we will remember who we are and not

how someone desires to define us.

Otherwise we will always find ourselves in checkmate.

Remember who you are.