Wednesday, July 4, 2012
"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." This is a saying I must keep before me all the time. Every one of us sinners has a future to be lived within the tender, mercy-full love of our gracious Prodigal Father. The way that is going to happen for me is to live this present moment knowing that the mercy-full love of God IS, right now, being poured down upon me, as it is for you. As we open ourselves up to the need of this mercy we follow in the footsteps of some real heavy hitters. I am thinking here of Saints Peter and Paul, whose feast day we celebrated last week. Some of the saints are there "for our admiration, not for our imitation". Some lives are just plain out of our ball park. Peter and Paul are right there, daily, in our lives. When we get discouraged, and which one of us does not?, their lives are there for us, from which to draw strength and courage. Which one, Peter, the first pope, or Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles. One, Peter, having promised to go so far as to die with Christ, turned around and denied Him three times? Paul, on the other hand, in his missed placed zeal, persecuted the early Christians, and so persecuted Christ? Tough choice is it not? Paul, aware of his special calling, is not comfortable with this aspect of his life. He sees it as an impediment to the mission he is destined for. So in order to be, a better instrument in the hands of God, he goes to the Lord to be cleansed of what he calls “the thorn”. He goes once and makes the request and what happens….nothing. He goes a second time and makes the same request. Result, the habit of sin still remains? (Sound familiar?) Then he goes the third time. He must have really said something that got the Lords attention and this time he got an answer. I am certain it was not the answer he WANTED, he received the answer he NEEDED. He was told to relax. Change his focus. Get away from the demands of the ego and surrender to A Power far greater than he. In other words let him, Paul, be converted. Let Paul accepted his powerlessness over his "thorn", so as to be open to and experience the power, grace and unconditioned love of Him whom he at one time, persecuted. Life with this God of ours makes no sense to those who want to be rational. Grace cannot be rationalized. God's love is too deep to be analyzed. This love of His, Grace, makes no sense if we use the measuring rod of the “World”. God’s love sets all the criteria we use daily on its ear. All we can do, as Paul was forced to do, is accept. Accept the fact that in all of our weaknesses we only have the strengthening love of God to fall back. It becomes the persistent safety net that is ever and always there to catch us when we fall. God's Persistent Safety Net, (G.P.S.) is ever and always there to catch us. Again and again, when we fall, God's love catches us. This love fills up what is missing. Then sets us back on the way we need to go, NOT in the direction we WANT to go. What a battle that is, right??? We are in the midst of that battle each and every moment of our daily lives. “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience, we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” We are enfleshed within a broken humanity, the source of our thorn. We each have our own thorn. That thorn will change, in some cases, as we journey through life. The only thing certain is we will have a thorn to engage us, every step of the way. Like everything else in life, "every blessing is a curse, and every curse is a blessing". So the curse of our thorn eventually causes us to acknowledge our powerlessness, so as to experience the power-full-ness of God. That surrender does not happen without a series of battles. Battles we have to loose, so as to gain a peace, serenity and security our ego's or the world cannot provide. We will gradually come to accept that awe-full, wonder-full invitation, “come rest in Me". Therein lies the source of real strength, and lasting peace. It is in that place we are able to listen with open ears, heart, soul, and mind to the following, written by Henri Nouwen: “I have called you by name, from the beginning. You are mine and I am yours. You are my Beloved, in you my favor rests. I have molded you in the depths of the each and knitted you together in your mother's womb. I have carved you in the palm of my hand and hidden you in the shadow of my embrace. I look on you with infinite tenderness and care for you with a care more intimate than that of a mother for her child. I have counted every hair of your head and guided your every step. Wherever you go, I go with you, and whenever you rest, I will keep watch. I will give you food, I will satisfy your hunger and give you drink that quenches all you thirst. I will not hide my face from you. You know me as your own, as I know you as my own. You belong to Me. I am your father, and mother, your brother, your sister, your lover and your spouse…yes, even your child..Wherever you are, I will be. Nothing will ever separate us, we are one."