Rest A While

Jesus serves the multitude, healing, feeding, teaching, but then he goes away to rest.

The Apostles gathered together with Jesus and reported all they had done and taught. He said to them “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Mark 6

The greatest mystery about rest is that the opportunity for such has almost nothing to do with our outward circumstances. Rest is a state of mind. Detachment from outcomes.

You spread the table before me
in the sight of my foes. Psalm 23

Never wait for life circumstances to be perfect to rest. Rest now. God is with you, surrounding you, protecting you from your enemies, from the darkness that pretends it can overwhelm you. Turn your eyes to the mysterious, invisible reality. God is with you.


As a Bridegroom Rejoices in His Bride

…So shall your God rejoice in you. — Isaiah

Anytime the Bible talks about weddings, or marriage, or the Bridegroom and the Bride or being a spouse, two things can happen in our minds.

The first is a tendency to start thinking about actual marriages between people, as if these were Biblical instructions for us on how to be married.

The second is a feminist or black-pilled inspired deconstruction of text. A small mental scoffing, an inability to recognize what it truly means for the bridegroom to rejoice in the bride because we look at real life relationships as imagine that those are the models.

“No more shall people call you “Forsaken” or your land “Desolate,” but you shall be called “My Delight,” and your land “Espoused.” For the Lord delights in you and makes your land his spouse. As a young man marries a virgin, your Builder shall marry you; and as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your Lord rejoice in you.”

What does it mean to be the bride of the Lord? It means the Lord loves you, he cherishes you. And he lavishes gifts on you. The problem is, when you think of a rich man with a beautiful wife the tendency is to think “this guy is just paying for sex” or “this girl is just a gold digger.”

But those are not the characteristics of the Lord and his beloved.

The Lord loves you. And if you say yes to him, he will shower you with gifts. But his gifts aren’t necessarily fine clothes and shoes and jewels, or a big house, or money. They are the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and he gives them to us to serve each other.

“As each one has received a gift, use it to serve one another as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter.

But the main gift that God the Bridegroom gives to our soul, His Spouse, is life. Life in the Kingdom of Heaven.

Nothing is Impossible

Just a short post today to remember the most important lesson.

Nothing is Impossible with God..

The Lord’s are the earth and it’s fullness:

the world and those who dwell in it.

For he founded it upon the seas

and established it upon the rivers.

Psalm 24

I don’t know what is coming next and I don’t know how to get there. I don’t know what I want and I don’t know how to achieve it.

Great peace floods out of a place of waiting and surrounds me like a placid lake. A boat will come.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?

Who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24

Fear Not, O Worm Jacob

I am exhausted with my groaning;

every night I drench my pillow with tears;

I bedew my bed with weeping.

My eye wastes away with grief;

Psalm 6

In one of the books of the classic fantasy series The Belgariad, by David Eddings, there’s a scene that always struck me as a writer’s cheat. In it a character is told that a prophecy holds clues to a great danger he goes into the library to pour over them. While he’s there, the voice of the prophecy, which also lives inside his head (don’t ask), says to him, “Hey, you don’t need to read every word, just sort of let your eyes move over them and I’ll I make the relevant passages leap out to you.”

As a teenager reading this I was like “COME ON! ridiculous.” But as an adult with a daily habit of reading the Bible, I have had this experience many times. There are times when unimportant phrases and words in passages read many many times almost become brighter, standing out against a darker wall of text.

And sometimes an entire group of readings are clearly meant for me and my current situation, for hope and comfort.

I am the Lord, your God, who grasp your right hand;

It is I who say to you, “Fear not, I will help you.”

Fear not O worm Jacob, O maggot Israel: I will help you, says the Lord.

Isaiah 41

And maybe it will bother some to think of God referring to his people as maggots and worms, but for me, I see this kind of language as an honest reminder of the truth of my own power. Now, to be clear, I don’t have low self-esteem and I value work and personal responsibility and I try to put those values into place and teach them to my children. And they are important. But the experience of my life is that mere goals and striving can accomplish nothing. They are necessary but not sufficient for life. The importance of goals and striving is not to achieve external things, but to develop good character. But you must always remember that the goals you think you are working for are all vanity in the eyes of God.

This lesson might make you hopeless, until you reach a time in life when there is no forward progress, and indeed, not even to a path to walk on. Locked in a paradigm of goal setting and achievement, you will spin your wheels and grow frustrated and myopic. Put recalling the true goals will set you free.

I especially need to remember this when there are no goals to be achieved and my problems and obstacles are things I have no power over. In those times I like to remember there is only continuing to live in faith. In those times Isaiah leaps out to comfort.

I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. 

I will open up rivers on the bare heights,

and foutains in the broad valleys;

I will turn the desert into a marshland, 

and the dry ground into springs of water.

I will plant in the desert the cedar,

acacia, myrtle, and olive….

Isaiah 41

The Lofty City

The more you read the Bible, the more you see that there are two worlds, coexisting. They overlay each other, like a two layered skirt. You can live in either one at any time. One is separated from God and the Kingdom of Heaven by sin and the affects of sin, and the other participates in Grace.

For he has brought low the inhabitants of the height, the lofty city. He lays it low, lays it low to the ground, casts it to the dust.”

Isaiah 26:5

I missed blogging yesterday because I’ve spent the last day very very sick with a stomach flu. The vomiting was not so bad as these things go, but I was so dehydrated that once when I sat up I passed out and fell forward and split my head open.

I am chronically dehydrated, I think. I don’t notice much from day to day but when I got sick, it became very apparent that this is a problem for me. It’s hard for me to not make an analogy between this kind of thirst and the thirst for the living water, the grace of life that Jesus offered to the Samaritan woman at the well. Or, to today’s gospel: the house built on sand.

Everyone of them who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
Matthew 7: 24-25

People who build their house on rock seem to step out of this world and walk with God when they go through tragedy or setbacks or hardships. They become more sure about what is important, more full of Grace, more thankful, more kind, more present. This is just a personal observation I’ve made of friends and family who have suffered immense and almost unthinkable badness.

But people who live in the lofty city or who merely sit at its gates slavering to get in are brought to utter desolation when something goes wrong. They isolate, they grow bitter, become angry, lash out. I include myself in this category, in the past and surely also in the future.

The lofty city maybe looks shimmery and bright and powerful and high up and real, but it disappears when you reach out to touch it and ask for something you really need. Or if you are in it, you find yourself ignoring it if someone reaches out to you. It provides no sustenance, no living water.

If you live in the lofty city you discover it only when the rain or the fire or the floods come.

and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.”

Matthew 7:27

It’s hard to know if you are living in the lofty city. Not all things that are fun and glittery and insubstantial are bad. Rich people can live in the city of God, poor people can live in the lofty city. There’s nothing wrong with fun or frivolity taken in its turn. So here’s my shorthand.

The lofty city has no neighbors.

Hidden Kingdom

Justice shall flower in his days, and profound peace, till the moon be no more.

Psalm 72

God’s kingdom, the kingdom of the faithful, is hidden from the eyes of the world. He asks us to walk by faith and not by sight. And sometimes that means what we see is evil unpunished by the world and good go unnoticed. We see the poor cry out in vain. 

In those times look for the hidden Kingdom.

I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.”

Luke 10

The Land of Gloom

We dwell in a land of gloom both metaphorical, and at this time of year, real. But darkness is not an excuse to lose faith. God promises that he will give us enough light to see where to place our next step and we are called to have faith that God’s plans are better than our own.

Though an army encamp against me my heart would not fear.

The army of darkness encamps within my mind. Assaulted by thoughts and emotions, I lay under a blanket and seek shelter when reality itself pierces my flesh.

Though war break out against me even then would I trust.

I know God doesn’t promise to drive the darkness away. He promises to guide us through it, one step at a time, to provide us sustenance along the way, one meal at a time. I am not to try to find the path myself, but to follow God who will lead me to shelter I cannot see.

For there He keeps me safe in His tent in the day of evil.
He hides me in the shelter of His tent, on a rock He sets me safe.

I pray for faith to look to God for the next step, the next meal, to not demand to know the fullness of His plan. To be like the Centurion in today’s Mass reading who in his faith knows that what God commands simply happens. It’s not necessary for us to see God enter our house. We just have faith that His authority is absolute, that He loves us, that He will make our paths straight, even if we can’t see every step of the path right now.

We share the feast the Lord sets for us and give thanks and praise for it, even when an army of demons encamps within our minds, even when real world troubles come against us in a never ending assault, even when we can’t see the next step. God sets a table for us in the midst of our enemies, he provides us a tent–a shelter–in the sight of our foe.

I shall offer within His tent a sacrifice of joy.

I will sing and make music for the Lord.

Psalm 27