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#398668 - 05/29/12 08:12 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
"We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish," they answered. "Bring them here to me," he said.
Matthew 14:17-18

Sometimes after reading the newspaper or watching the news on television we experience an intensely painful awareness of the enormity of the world's problems and the hopeless inadequacy of the resources available to solve these problems. During recovery we often experience these same feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. Our personal problems seem enormous. Our resources seem incredibly limited. Part of our denial comes from our desire to avoid recognizing that our personal problems are bigger than our personal resources. We will need resources more extensive than our own to make any progress in recovery.

Fortunately, God has a long and consistent history of working with people who have limited resources. It has been God's consistent pattern throughout the biblical record. God's preference is to bring strength out of weakness. The abundance which God brings from a few loaves and fishes is a clear sign of the surprising resource-full-ness of God. God does not seem to be at home among the well-nourished, the resourced, the un-needy. In a reversal of all of our expectations, God comes to the needy and limited with invitations to participate in the Kingdom.

When we see how few loaves and fishes we have, we become convinced that our needs for nourishment will not be met. And we conclude that there will be nothing left over to share. But the hopelessly limited resources somehow turn into abundance when offered to God. There is enough for us and enough to share. Each day, one day at a time, God accepts our limited resources and surprises us with what can be done.

I am hungry, Lord.
I have not been getting the nourishment I need.
What I have is so limited.
A few loaves.
A few fish.
There will not be enough to go around.

I cannot imagine what use they will be
but I make my limited resources available to you.
Accept my limited resources, Lord.
I bring them to you for your blessing.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#398793 - 05/30/12 07:57 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
"I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!"
Mark 9:24

We live somewhere between belief and unbelief. Our faith wavers. At times faith is strong and stable. At times it is weak, and shaken.

For many of us, our capacity for trust has been diminished by experiences with people who were not trustworthy. We have learned by painful experience that we will be disappointed if we trust. One of the most intense struggles in recovery is to rebuild our capacity for trust and hope. We want to believe, but we are afraid.

Some people believe that God will respond only to people who 'believe enough'. "If you have enough faith, God will hear you," they say. But Jesus said "All you need is faith the size of a mustard seed." The mustard is the smallest of seeds. God does not reject small, limited faith. God will not ignore even the desire to believe. God will not dismiss a willingness to learn to trust. Mountains have been moved by less. God accepts our limited faith.

God does not ask us to wait until we are certain and strong in faith. God accepts us as we are, even with our limited faith.

Lord, you see my struggle to believe,
to trust,
and to hope.
You know my fears,
my hesitations,
my questions.
Help me to accept the limits of my faith.
Help me to bring my limited faith to you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#398965 - 05/31/12 08:08 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Mark 16:8

The most reliable early manuscripts of the Gospel of Mark end with this verse. Mark's version of the Good News ends with this very high drama. Just at the point in the story where we might have expected to find rejoicing, we find fear. The women are afraid. Just at the point where we might have expected confidence, we find uncertainty. The women are bewildered. What a remarkable thing that the people chosen by God to be the first messengers of the Good News were too frightened and bewildered to speak! God chose to entrust the future of the Kingdom to people with limited courage.

God knows our courage is limited. He knows that fear can immobilize us. God does not shame us for being afraid. God has trusted people with this kind of limit in the past. God does not need us to have unshakable faith.

The women in this text did eventually speak. Courage was granted to them. Fears faced without shame will lose their power to immobilize us. God knows that fear is part of our human condition. Our fears do not keep God from entrusting us to be message bearers of Good News.

Thank you, Lord,
for entrusting the Kingdom
to the tired and traumatized.
Thank you for accepting me
and my limited courage.
Help me today to accept my limits, Lord.
Help me to give my fears to you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#399115 - 06/01/12 08:07 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
"When I went to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ and found that the Lord had opened a door for me, I still had no peace of mind, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-by to them and went on to Macedonia."
2 Corinthians 2:12-13

Paul was a missionary writing to a congregation that had mixed feelings about his ministry. Under these circumstances we might reasonably expect him to defend himself. We might expect him to say 'Things are going great! Open doors! Packed stadiums! Now on several continents! Soon on satellite to the whole planet!" But he doesn't say that. He tells the truth. "There was an open door, but I had no peace of mind". Paul chooses to do honest, straight, appropriate, risky self-disclosure. "I was anxious and lonely and it effected my ability to work. I could not minister to others because I was too needy." Paul rejects the 'superstar' or 'hero' model for ministry. "I can't do this alone," he was saying, "I need Titus".

Like Paul, we have limits in our work and ministry. God does not ask us to be superheros. We may wish for this out of a deep need for approval, but it is not what God asks of us. Like Paul, we will have open doors that we will not be able to respond to because we are too tired, or too anxious, or too lonely. It is part of the reality of being human. God understands these kinds of limits.

Lord, I want to do it all.
I want to be a superhero.
But I am so limited.
Give me the grace to be honest.
Give me the courage to admit my loneliness and anxiety.
Give me the courage to admit my exhaustion.
Give me the grace to be human.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#399201 - 06/02/12 12:01 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Be still, and know that I am God.
Psalm 46:10

We need to be reminded that we are not God.

This seems pretty basic. You wouldn't think it would be hard to remember. But we get so caught up in proving ourselves by performing, achieving and rescuing that we forget that we are humans with real limits. We fill our time so full of frenzied activity that there is no 'stillness'. And when there is no stillness, it is hard to remember who is God and who is not.

Fortunately, God does not forget who is God and who is not. God invites us to quiet ourselves, to slow ourselves down. God invites us to be still long enough to regain perspective. "Be still", God says, "and know that I am God."

In the stillness we can see again that there is a difference between our frenzy and God's kingdom. It is God's work to provide and protect and rescue. It is not our work. We can do our part. But our part needs to be respectful of our human limits. Our part needs to actively acknowledge our dependence on God. God is God, and we are not.

Help me to slow down, Lord.
Help me to be quiet.
Help me to be still long enough to remember that you are God.
Help me to remember who is creature and who is Creator.
Let this truth free me, Lord, to accept my limits,
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#399262 - 06/03/12 01:38 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let you ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.
Psalms 130:1-2

Grief is often experienced as being 'in the depths'. Sometimes it feels like we have been swallowed up by grief. Our bodies ache. Our minds can't focus. Our hearts feel like they will break.

Our cry for help during times of grief may seem desperate and feeble. We want to believe that God hears us. We want to believe that God is attentive to our pain. But we feel uncertain.

One of the most difficult experiences during seasons of grief is feeling as if our crys for help fall on deaf ears. Like the psalmist, we find ourselves pleading with God to pay attention. God, who may have seemed so present and attentive when our pain was less intense, can seem strangely absent just when we need God most. When we are in the most pain, we are often least able to experience God's loving presence.

This subjective experience of God's inattentiveness can be terrifying. But it can also be the starting point for growing a deeper and more meaningful faith. A faith that has found the courage to honestly face these experiences of God's absence will be a transformed faith. A faith that has survived a season of grief will have experienced the realities of the spiritual life at a much deeper level. From experiences of this kind we can learn to give up simplistic spiritualities. We can learn to pray with more honesty and integrity.

Can you see me, God?
Can you hear me?
Listen!
Pay attention!
I am calling to you for help.
I am overwhelmed with sorrow.
Have mercy on me.
Hear my cry for help.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#399335 - 06/04/12 07:58 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.
Matthew 2:18

There are times when there is no consolation for grief. There is no comfort. In these times we feel that those who try to comfort us do not understand the vastness of our pain. All we know, all we see, is the terrible loss we have suffered. The world feels as if it should stop. Nothing matters but our loss.

We weep and rage and long for the return of what we have lost.

This happened to many of the families living in Bethlehem at the time of Jesus' birth. In hopes of killing the Messiah, Herod ordered that male child under two years old in that town be put to death. It was into this world of violence and terror that Jesus was born. The Christmas story is not a fairy tale with happy endings, but a story about real life and terrible loss.

There are times in our lives for weeping without comfort, for weeping with anguish and rage. God has come before into times like this. God comes as well into our times of anguish and rage. Because God comes there will eventually be a time to be comforted. And a time to heal. And a time to go on.

But there is a time to weep. It cannot be rushed, or bypassed. There is a time for weeping.<

God, hold me when I weep,
when I refuse comfort,
when I cannot see beyond this pain.
Give me courage to grieve deeply, Lord.
Help me to tolerate the silence,
as I wait for you to speak.
Help me to survive the loneliness
as I await your coming.
Help me to grieve in ways
that draw me closer to you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#399442 - 06/05/12 08:08 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering.
Isaiah 53:3

Many people have the impression that good Christians are happy, joyful, victorious people. In this fantasy, good Christians are people whose problems seem to vanish when they trust God and pray about it. Unaffected by the pain of life, these relentlessly cheerful people read the Bible, sing praise songs and feel no pain.

Yet Christians are at heart the followers of a man who was named 'man of sorrows.' Jesus was not relentlessly cheerful. He did not practice a mood altering, pain-numbing religion. He grieved. He wept. He was familiar with suffering. Our God is a God who knows suffering. God grieves.

In those times when we shame ourselves for our sorrow, it can be an enormous encouragement to remember that God is personally familiar with grief. If God grieves, we can expect to do the same.

God, you surprise me again!
When I grieve, I think that if I could just cheer up,
you would be pleased.
But, you grieve also.
Man of Sorrows you are acquainted with sorrow.
Thank you for understanding.
Thank you for grieving.
Help me to experience your presence in my time of grief.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#399574 - 06/06/12 11:38 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 34:18

Many people are convinced that when they are brokenhearted, when they grieve deeply over their losses, that God is displeased. God is sometimes seen as a person who expects us to be happy even in the face of trauma and loss. God is someone who asks us to 'snap out of it' and 'cheer up'. As a result, we anticipate rejection rather than compassion.

How surprising it is to hear that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted! God does not expect cheerfulness. God does not reject us. God is compassionate and responsive. God is close - not far away.

In dysfunctional families difficult emotions often result in withdrawal and isolation. It is this kind of emotional distance that we now expect from God. It is not always easy to trust God to be close to us when we are brokenhearted. And it is not always easy to allow ourselves the vulnerability of such closeness. But God is eager to heal us, to restore us and to save us when our spirits are crushed.

When I was angry, Lord,
I was sent to my room.
"Don't come out until you have a smile on your face!"
When I was sad, Lord
I was told to cheer up.
"Just snap out of it!"

Now I expect to be abandoned, Lord.
I expect to be left alone with my pain.
I expect to be lonely in my brokenness.

When I am broken hearted,
When I am crushed in spirit,
Help me to rest in your promise to be close.
Help me to rest in your promise to save.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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#399650 - 06/07/12 09:06 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2572
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Isaiah 40:29
Grief is exhausting. Physically we are fatigued. Mentally we are spent. Emotionally we are drained. Spiritually we are crushed. Weariness seems to cast a shadow over all of life. We drag through the days. We are without strength and without power.

Our bodies need to be refreshed with sleep and recreation. Our minds need to be stimulated with hopeful thoughts about our future. Our hearts need to be soothed. Our spirits need to be infused with a desire to engage in life again.

God comes to us in the weariness and weakness of grief with gifts of strength and power. God does not shame us for our weakness. God does not reject us for being too weary to function. We may be tempted to refuse God's gifts either because we want to pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps, or because we don't believe we are entitled to receive good gifts. But, nevertheless, God offers us good gifts in seasons of grief. God offers strength and power. When we can admit our need and are ready to be honored by the Giver of these gifts, they can be ours.

I am weary, Lord.
Sometimes I think I am suppose to stay weary.
I do not feel entitled to be strong.
And sometimes I want to manage without your help.
I don't feel that I deserve help.

Thank you for your offer of strength and power.
Give me strength today.
Give me the power I need to make it through this day.
Give me the grace to accept your gifts.
Strengthen and empower me as I grieve today.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan

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