Pray without ceasing on behalf of everyone. For in them there is hope of repentance so that they may attain to God. Permit them, then, to be instructed by your works, if in no other way. Be meek in response to their wrath, humble in opposition to their boasting; to their blasphemies return your prayers; in contrast to their error be steadfast in the faith; and for their cruelty display your gentleness. While we take care not to imitate their conduct, let us be found their brothers in all true kindness.
~Ignatius of Antioch, A.D. 50 – 117 (Letter to the Ephesians 10)
I have continued to ponder this closing quote from my talk about redefining the goal of spiritual conversations. Ignatius of Antioch was a disciple of the Apostle John, and was the 2nd (or third) Bishop of Antioch when the church was centered there. Ignatius was martyred in the Colosseum in Rome and as you can see by the painting, it was a gruesome death. Under the tutelage of John, the heartbeat of Jesus was a thin veil away and is easily encountered as you read his words and meditate on his willingness to die for his faith.
The responses of Jesus towards His accusers and executioners is hovering close to the surface of this statement…
The commands and interactions of the rabbi, that we so easily dismiss as possible for Him because He was God, seem to become enfleshed in Ignatius’ words leaving us no room for escape but plenty of room to squirm.
Broken down, each thought is completely others-centered, a sort of self-amnesia that majors on compassion unattached to self-need or self-promotion.
1. Praying all the time for everyone.
2. Your prayers can help those who are far away from God move towards Him because there is hope for everyone to turn towards God.
3. Preach to people by serving them, doing good, demonstrating compassion and godly service.
4. Control yourself when others unleash their anger on you.
5. Seek the higher road of humility when others fill the air with self-promotion.
6. Pray for others when they accuse, belittle, condemn or slander you.
7. Stay committed to what is true when others fall for all the false and empty philosophies of the world.
8. Be gentle when others are merciless.
9. Don’t imitate their path, but love them on their journey regardless of where they are at… exhibiting kindness and brotherliness.
These are powerful thoughts…
In fact, these thoughts are alarming because they promise pain and suffering without recourse, justification or a necessary happy ending. Instead, they offer us invitation into the sufferings of Christ, where our soul will be forged in ways that we don’t want, can’t handle, and will probably try to escape from.
Trust is the only response that will work. But trust is not something that can be conjured up like a late-night snack or story to cover your tracks, no, trust is something birthed between the worlds of chaos and confusion in that thin space where the voice of God speaks to the follower of Jesus who is forever doubting, struggling, running, ducking and hiding from the Voice of Love.
Trust says, “not my will but yours be done.” Trust cries “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Trust sighs, “I believe, help my unbelief.”
This desolate place is where Jesus rescues the bedraggled among us. The ones who have no option other than God. The ones who know their default system-setting is to try to create their own trust, build their own reality, convince themselves and others that they are someone they are not, and then wake up sweating in the night knowing the false world they have created is a silly sham that the Big-Bad-Wolf could easily huff, puff and blow down.
These are the ones Jesus came for. Brute honesty has a way of surfacing when we sit among the displaced straw, and God always responds to our honesty by increasing our faith which intensifies our hope that welds handles onto trust so that we can grasp it firmly. This is the great trial of the soul. Will I believe and hold onto the truth that God loves me even at my worst? Will I define myself, not by my mistakes and blunders, but rather as one unconditionally loved by the God who created black holes, raging seas, distant galaxies and human DNA?
The presence of Trinity dwelling within us by faith is not myth, idiocy, theological gymnastics, a last-ditch hail-mary nor the conjecture of weak-willed people. Jesus brings about God’s presence within us which is the most real part of me, the only solid ground in a world full of shadows.
So while I might want to run away, hide, pretend or shrink into the shadows, the gift of trust, born from the love between the Father and the Son revealed on the cross of Calvary, will rise laying ahold of me even as I lay ahold of it.
And all of it is a gift…
All of it is grace…
All of it is divine love…
Trust removes our fear of God and our fear of ourselves. He smiles as we approach Him with all our broken pieces because He knows we have finally allowed ourselves to be loved just as we are not the way we think we should be…
Here, in this sacred space, we choose to go beyond the extra mile extending to others the very same grace and acceptance we have received from God. We offer it willingly, sacrificially, and fearlessly because we finally know that God is good, even when the path is dark.
Father, help me trust.
We have entered full swing into the wedding season. From mid-May through September I receive numerous requests asking me to perform a wedding. This is a season of excitement, stress and maxed out credit cards! However, beneath it all busy hum is the ongoing declarations of love between two people who long to share their covenant decision with friends and family. So, in honor of the season, here are some great thoughts and quotes about love and marriage…
When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.
~Nora Ephron, When Harry Met Sally
Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction. ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life. ~Rita Rudner
Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same. ~Emily Brontë
Grow old with me! The best is yet to be. ~Robert Browning
When the one man loves the one woman and the one woman loves the one man, the very angels desert heaven and come and sit in that house and sing for joy. ~The Brahma Sutras
We’re all a little weird. And life is a little weird. And when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall into mutually satisfying weirdness – and call it love – true love.
~Robert Fulghum,True Love
At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet ~ Plato
My beloved is mine and I am his ~ Song of Songs
You are always new, the last of your kisses was ever the sweetest.
~ John Keats
By all means marry. If you get a good wife you will become happy, and if you get a bad one you will become a philosopher. ~ Socrates
Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength while loving someone deeply gives you courage. ~ Lao Tzo
For years my wedding ring has done its job. It has led me not into temptation. It has reminded my husband numerous times at parties that it’s time to go home. It has been a source of relief to a dinner companion. It has been a status symbol in the maternity ward. ~Erma Bombeck
You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams. ~ Dr. Seuss
Immature love says: “I love you because I need you.” Mature love says: “I need you because I love you.” ~ Erich Fromm
Love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile. ~ Elizabeth Browning
Love is like playing the piano.
First you must learn to play by the rules,
then you must forget the rules
and play from your heart.
Kissing is like drinking salted water.
You drink, and your thirst increases.
~ Chinese Proverb
Nothing can come close to the sheer joy
I feel in marrying my best friend
I arise from dreams of thee
In the first sweet sleep of night,
when the winds are breathing low,
and the stars are shining bright.
~ Percy Byssthe Shelley
If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever. ~ Alfred Lord Tennyson
Faith is powerful…we all have faith in something, whether it is faith that the brakes on our car will actually work when we depress the brake pedal, or faith that we don’t need to purchase our next breath…faith is the state of assured trust that something will happen.
Faith puts a smile on God’s face and causes the Divine to respond. Faith lifts us out of the ordinary into the extraordinary! Tonight’s quotes center on faith…read, be inspired and make God smile 🙂
Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother. ~Khalil Gibran
Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith. ~Henry Ward Beecher
Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand.
Faith is a passionate intuition. ~William Wordsworth
Faith is spiritualized imagination. ~Henry Ward Beecher
Faith is the bird that feels the light when the dawn is still dark. ~Rabindranath Tagore
Faith isn’t the ability to believe long and far into the misty future. It’s simply taking God at His Word and taking the next step. ~Joni Erickson Tada
Faith sees the invisible, believes the unbelievable, and receives the impossible. ~ Corrie Ten Boom
Worry is spiritual short sight. Its cure is intelligent faith. ~Paul Brunton
Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step. ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
Some things have to be believed to be seen. ~Ralph Hodgson
Faith sees what isn’t as if it were…. 🙂