Today is Sunday, the thirteenth of February, 2022, in the sixth week of Ordinary Time.
Peace be with you!
Day 23,348 (the number of days since I was born)
Today’s header photo is by Paul Militaru, from Romania. Please check out his other photos at the link provided.
It’s a little humorous. I’m sitting here trying to decide what to type. S and I had a good appointment at the eye doctor, yesterday. Her eyes had changed a bit, one more than the other, so we are getting new glasses for her. Mine, on the other hand, had changed hardly at all. In fact, one eye was pretty much exactly the same. So I’m not getting new glasses. However, I have possession of my prescription in case I need new glasses within the next year. S’s will be ready within the standard seven to ten business days.
It’s a big weekend for some. The Super Bowl is today, between two teams that I would consider “underdogs.” If it weren’t for the commercials, I’m guessing that not nearly as many people would watch the game. Some folks, though, just as in baseball, love the sport so much that they will watch a football game, regardless of who is playing. I’m not even that way with baseball. I love a couple of teams, and I do love the sport, but if neither one of my teams is playing, I’m simply not that interested. As for football, it would be impossible for me to care any less than I do. I did indicate, yesterday, who I hope wins, though, so I supposed I could possibly care slightly less.
And tomorrow is the big day pushed by greeting card and candy makers, world wide. It is Valentine’s Day, the day when a bloody massacre is celebrated by being romantic.
Never mind. As I stated yesterday, C and I hardly even acknowledge that the day exists.
Speaking of C, I think she might be feeling better. She has been coughing less, and has slept pretty well the last couple nights. So well that I think she is still in bed at 10:00.
Speaking of 10:00 AM, we are not having our worship gathering, this morning. Good thing, I guess, since I haven’t even started the “spiritual” portion of the blog. The host’s daughter is at a Disciple Now event at a church close to them, and they are going to attend the service at that church, along with her. I think they were inviting any of us to tag along, or giving the option to Zoom. But since C wasn’t feeling well, I said we would just stay at home, this morning.
That’s enough personal rambling, I think. I’ll be talking to Mama later today, as I typically call her on Sunday afternoons. I’m sure there will be discussion on when she might be coming back over here, and, of course, we are ready whenever she is. We have also ordered a new bed, one just like the ones we got for S and for Mama’s room, except it is a “split King” bed. Split so that C and I can adjust the settings independently of one another. Ours should arrive by this coming Friday, and won’t be, hopefully, interrupted by a winter storm.
TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS
Christ, on our behalf, before the presence of God, appeared, once for all. (Inspired by Hebrews 9:23-28)
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the LORD, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. (Proverbs 3:5-8 ESV)
Today I am grateful:
1. that I am not wise in my own eyes, but I seek the wisdom of the Lord 2. that I am learning to not lean on my own understanding (which, admittedly, is sometimes quite lacking) 3. for the easy yoke and light burden of following Jesus 4. that God remembers that we are dust 5. that the Holy Spirit works in real time
The prayer word for today is “almost.” I find that interesting. “Almost” is not a word that can have many meanings. It is pretty single-minded. It means the same thing as “nearly.”
This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. (Psalms 118:24 ESV)
Admittedly, this verse is speaking about the verses immediately preceding it.
The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the LORD's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. (Psalms 118:22-23 ESV)
It is most definitely a good thing to rejoice in that day, the day that Jesus became the “cornerstone.”
But is it wrong to consider every day that I live as “the day that the Lord has made?” And is it wrong to “rejoice and be glad in it?”
I think not.
How does this go along with the word “almost?” In the context of the reading for the day, written by someone identified only as “Roberta” (I confess that, in my mind, this is a flaw in the concept of the book, because it makes me doubt the authenticity of the stories contained, therein), it means that we need to be sure and make time to do whatever we feel the Spirit leading us to do, and not be “almost followers” of Christ.
I’ve been there. There are plenty of times when I have “almost” followed what Jesus was, I believe, telling me to do. And when that happens, “almost” is synonymous with “not.” In other words, “almost” doing something is the same thing as “not” doing it. Period.
We’ve heard it said, “Almost only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” “I almost helped that hungry, homeless, jobless person.” No. I didn’t help. There is really no such thing as “almost.”
There is no better illustration than sports for this concept. Almost winning is losing. I once read somewhere, “Second place is first loser.” Now, of course, this is balanced out by phrases such as, “The best thing in baseball is winning the World Series. The second-best thing in baseball is losing the World Series.” So “losing” is not always the worst thing that can happen. But it’s still “losing.” “Almost winning” is “losing.”
So, “almost following” is “not following.”
I think I explained this for way too long.
And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
(Luke 10:27 ESV)
It does occur to me that the concept above could be taken to such extremes that life would be meaningless (or at least futile). The above verse is at the heading of today’s Daily Guideposts reading. Contained in the reading is the content of a church’s revised mission statement.
“Connecting All to Christ. Would others know that I follow Jesus if they spent time with me today? Did I thank God today? Did I extend Christ’s kindness today?
“To Become Healthy in God. Did I actively seek ways to grow spiritually today? Did I obey the teachings of Jesus today? Did I open my life to be changed by Christ today?
“And Courageous in Love. Did I see every person as a child of God today? Did I make someone’s life better today? Was Christ my priority as I used my time, talents, and treasures today?”
I’m not going to bother pointing out the grammatical inconsistencies with those three points. I would have, though, had I been on their “committee.”
While there is nothing inherently wrong with any of those questions, trying to live one’s life by those three components and their sub-questions would surely lead to a life of legalistic frustration. I do not believe this is what God wants from us. I mean, Jesus told us to come to Him and find rest! He said His burden is light and His yoke is easy! When well-meaning people work so hard to come up with “mission statements” like that above, they create heavy and hard burdens for people.
Yes, I need to intentionally grow, spiritually. I need to be thankful every day (I, personally, do that on a daily basis in this blog, and I post those points of gratitude on social media, as well . . . not to show people how “spiritual” I am, or how holy I am, but, hopefully, to inspire them to be grateful and positive about life, as well). I need to always try to see people as God’s children and extend kindness.
But there are going to be days, like yesterday, when I fail to do that. I had an encounter with a grocery delivery person yesterday that did not go well. It ended okay, but my reaction was probably not great. I’m not going into details, but it wasn’t really the delivery person’s fault.
But here’s the thing. We can’t go through life beating ourselves up over things like that. We are going to mess up. There are going to be days when we “almost” win; when we “almost” follow Christ (meaning we simply just fall short). And Jesus knows this. He will not be surprised (and, more than likely, not disappointed, either, considering that He already knows all of this, right?).
For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust. (Psalms 103:14 ESV)
I don’t know about you, but I find great comfort in that little verse.
So have I just contradicted myself, today? I don’t think so. I think what has happened here (and I quite enjoy when it does), is that I have worked through something, IRL (in real life), or in real time. I think I learn more when this happens. I’m not just regurgitating things that I have learned or believed for most of my life. Rather, I am thinking through some concepts “on the fly,” as it were. And I believe that the Holy Spirit works in this process.
Father, I thank You and praise You, first of all, that You remember that we are dust. You, above all, are aware that we are imperfect creatures. Not because You created us that way, but because, at some point in the existence of humanity, we chose to take that step of disobedience that made us so. But the point is that You are aware of this. Therefore, You are not surprised when we “almost” succeed at following You and Your commands.
I pray that You help me to not be an “almost follower.” But I also pray that concepts like those written above do not become legalistic measures that lead us down a path of futility and anxiety. Help us to embrace the easy yoke and light burden that Jesus spoke of when He invited us to follow Him. We have made ourselves weary; we have burdened ourselves with heavy loads. Jesus is trying to lighten that for us, and we seem to mess it up, constantly, by trying to create more rules and more burdens and heavier loads to “follow.” We seem to have learned nothing from the Pharisees, it turns out.
Thank You for Your compassion and understanding. I thank You for Your wisdom, too, and the admonishment/encouragement to not lean on my own understanding, but to seek Your wisdom and trust in You with all my heart, and to love You with my whole being. Life would be so much easier if we could simply succeed in those “little” things.
In these tumultuous times, Lord, I pray for “peace, love, and understanding.” I pray that Your people could step back from opinions that might be, in large part, irrelevant, and love, not only one another, but our neighbors, as well, unconditionally, the way that You love us. We need a love revolution, Father.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
Grace and peace, friends.