Monday, March 16, 2015

Being with God

I have been starting the day with 3 texts and today was no exception. (Exodus 15: 22-27, Pslam 107, Hebrews 3: 1-6)  We have now moved into the story of Moses leading his people to the promised land.   Three days into their journey they are thirsty and cannot find water.  And of course, blame Moses.

“What shall we drink?” He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.

I cannot understand how a piece of wood will make water sweet.  But I can understand these words: "If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes......"  There it is - being and doing. Listen and do what is right.  And as they followed in the wilderness they came to a place to camp - with 12 springs of water and 70 palm trees.

As I sit in my prayer room this morning I realize that my journey of retirement (which is of course a metaphor for my journey of life!) has been about learning how to be with God.  Listening carefully.

I have retired from a professional life doing for God  more than being with God.  I hesitate to write this but I know it is true.  So much of my time - even in prayer - has been about doing or planning for doing. I purposely have not jumped into anything yet - no interim work, no regular responsibilities but am just waiting for what is coming next for me. It is strange for me because I have a history of "making something happen." . When I saw Loretta,  my spiritual director,  last week we unpacked how difficult it is for me to just BE - with no intent for doing. Just BE with God and in being - receiving God's presence, spirit and love.  Just being. Listening  As I wander on my journey which does feel like wilderness at times.

Ruth Haley Barton writes in Strengthening the Soul of your Leadership:
"Even though they might have preferred a more direct route to their dream, it was eventually a great kindness that God prevented them from encountering more than they were ready to handle.  The roundabout way may not be the most direct route, but it represents a wonderful era in the spiritual life when God shows up in very tangible ways that assure of of his presence on the journey."

So, this morning I reflect on the blessings of the past few days which have really been gifts given to me by God - nothing that I planned or made happen.  Invitations that I said YES to.  It has been my form of  "12 springs of water."  A trip to COSI with Kacey and kids, an opportunity to do spiritual direction, a time of preaching, watching TV with some wonderful women, an invitation to retreat next month.  It is only in reflection that I realize how much God loves me and continues to provide living water.  I only have to receive it.

I do have a sense of being on a journey to some new place. But in the meantime, it is clear that BEING WITH God is primary to receiving the living water that provides daily nourishment.

 Marian Wright Edelman's Guide My Feet

The Nun's Twenty-Third Psalm

The Lord is my pace-setter, I shall not rush,
He makes me stop and rest for quiet intervals;
he provides me with images of stillness, which
     restore my serenity.
He leads me in ways of efficiency through calmness of mind.
And His guidance is peace.
Even though I have a great many things to 
     accoplish each day,
I will not fret, for His presence is here.
His timelessness, his all-importance will keep me in 
He prepares refreshment and renewal in the midst of
     my activity
By anointing my mind with His oils of tranquility.
My cup of joyous energy overflows.
Surely harmony and effectiveness shall be the fruit of
     my hours for
i shall walk in the place of my Lord and dwell in His 
     House forever.

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