Why, God?

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18

In the year 2000, a small group of devoted monks moved from the relative comfort of their lives to Norcia, Italy to re-establish the monastery founded there long ago by St. Benedict. Their sole purpose was to love and serve God through the solitude and simplicity of the ancient monastic life.

Then in October of 2016, the Basilica of St. Benedict, built in the 14th century as the center of this monastery’s worship, collapsed in an earthquake. It was a shocking tragedy. The monks couldn’t help wondering how God could allow the destruction of this cathedral when it was built by, and then used for centuries by, those who loved him sacrificially.

They mourned the loss of this great place of worship, but soon all their spiritual training kicked in, and they began to make plans for starting over. One writer described their reaction as “receiv(ing) this catastrophe as a call for deeper holiness and sacrifice.”*

Is that how we respond to crises in our lives? As a “call for deeper holiness and sacrifice?” Not usually. More often our response is “Why, God?” I think it’s OK to ask, but if the answer doesn’t come (and often it doesn’t – at least not right away), we need to accept what has happened and move closer to God as we pick up the pieces.

One of the monks said, “These are mysteries which will take years – not days or months – to understand.”*

Do you have an unanswered “why?” in your life? Let’s not let God’s silence stop us from answering his call to deeper holiness. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

“Joy is not necessarily the absence of suffering. It is the presence of God.” – Sam Storm

*Both quotes are cited in The Benedict Option by Rod Dreher (Sentinel Books: New York, New York), 2017, p. 243

Leaving Traces

“. . . for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man.” – 2 Corinthians 8:21

Someday we’ll die. We don’t get to choose how it will happen – and sometimes death is sudden. So, here’s a question: If you were to leave this earth unexpectedly, what traces will you leave behind?

  • What books will still have bookmarks in them – in progress, but unfinished? What will those titles tell others about you?
  • What underlinings and notes will there be in your Bible? Will those notes show your desire to know the Author?
  • What emails, phone messages, and social media posts will have just been delivered? What replies will your family see coming back to you?

I read about a 90+ -year-old woman who died in her sleep. Those who found her body also found on the bedside table her written goals for the coming year. Her family read them and smiled, knowing she had lived her life fully to the last moment.

We leave fingerprints and footprints wherever we go.  Someday we’ll make our final impressions on this earth.

When we live everyday in light of life’s fleeting nature,

when we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man, and

when we live in light of the potential of lingering effects in every moment,

we begin to be aware of not only being good and doing good, but looking good, too. Our imprints reflect on our God. Let’s make good ones!

“O may all who come behind us find us faithful, May the fire of our devotion light their way. May the footprints that we leave lead them to believe, and the lives we live inspire them to obey. O may all who come behind us find us faithful!” – Steve Green

Growing Pains

 

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But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness,and self-control.” Galatians 5:22

Do you have a difficult person in your life? An ongoing health situation or a demanding job? There may be a reason for these things beyond what you can see.

I am convinced there are characteristics God wants to develop in each of us that come only by facing difficult circumstances. No shortcuts.

• How will we learn the joys of gentleness without being involved with a defiant child or a crying baby?

• Or the fruit of faithfulness if we are not in a difficult relationship from which we’d like to run?

• Or the trait of kindness without someone who needs our care and concern?

When I am tempted to complain about my “to do” list for the day, I try to  remember to pause to thank God for putting people and situations in my path which will give the Spirit opportunity to develop the characteristics in me that He wants. Sometimes the hard stuff is there to help it happen. And when it does, the resulting blessing, contentment, and happiness will overflow from us to others.

Dear God, may I be full of Your love, joy, and peace as I face each situation this day. May Your fruit ripen in my life as I am called in each relationship to be faithful, good, patient, and kind. I am eager to see how you will challenge and change me today and I yield myself to You for Your amazing work. Amen

“Next to the might of God, the serene beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence for good in the world.” – D. L. Moody