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#388893 - 03/10/12 10:10 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. . .and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
Luke 2:12, 18

Some people think of God as a monster. Others think of God as the bully-in-the-sky. Others think of God as remote and abstract. These images come readily to us. We would not find it difficult to invent these gods. We are not amazed by them.

Like those who heard the shepherd's report, however, we stand amazed at the Christian Image. The image of a vulnerable God, a God-in-human-flesh, does not come readily to us. Who would have ever invented this God who comes as an infant? Who would have ever dared to think such a thing of God? But this is The Story, The Image. Christians have always insisted that the central drama of the history of this planet is centered on this God-who-comes-as-an-infant.

Things have not changed since the shepherds shared the amazing news. Being a Christian still involves staying open to the possibility that God will surprise us today. Just as God surprised the shepherds that day, so God may surprise us today.

Staying open to the possibility that God will surprise us with good things is not easy for people like us who find it easier to expect bad things. But God surprises us again and again with good things. The same God who came as a baby, wrapped up, lying in a feeding trough continues to surprise us.

What a surprise you are, God!
I expected monster, bully, distant abstraction.
What a surprise you are, Infant-God!
Help me this day to be open to your surprising grace.
Help me this day to be open to your surprising love.
Help me this day to hope in you.
Help me to allow my deep longings for you to awaken.
So that I will not miss your surprises.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#388957 - 03/11/12 06:20 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

As we open ourselves to see and know God in new ways, we will need to guard against using our relationship with God as a new arena for expressing our perfectionism. We cannot now see God except in a 'poor reflection'. We cannot perfectly know God. We are not yet face to face with God. We see partially. We know partially. There is much that remains a mystery to us.

It is not easy for us to live with partial vision. It is difficult to tolerate the ambiguities and unknowns. Sometimes the imperfections in our understanding of God make us anxious. We feel that God expects more of us than that. We feel that we should have answers to every conceivable question, that we should never experience doubts, that we should have clarity at all times.

But this text makes it clear that 20:20 vision is not a realistic expectation in our relationship with God. Perfection is not an option for us. Accepting limits in our capacity to see and know God is part of getting to know God better.

The list of things I don't understand goes on and on, Lord.
What I don't know makes me anxious.
I am afraid of my doubts.
I want to see and know you so well that I no longer experience doubt.
I want to understand things so thoroughly, that I no longer experience anxiety.
But I cannot see you face to face. I only see and know in part.
Help me, Lord,
to find a way to live with uncertainty,
with doubts,
with anxiety.
Help me to embrace what you have revealed of your love and goodness.
And to live in anticipation of one day knowing you more fully.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389036 - 03/12/12 08:29 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
1 John 3:2-3

Christians do not believe about life that 'what you see is what you get'. Quite to the contrary, Christians believe that many things we cannot now see are still part of God's plans for us. Some days we cannot see (or maybe even imagine) what it would be like to be completely recovered. But we know that this is God's plan for us. God is committed to our full recovery. As this text puts it, God will not be done with us until we are 'like him'. That is as 'recovered' as you can get.

The clarity of God's plan for us can give us hope. It may be a difficult journey, but you can get somewhere from here. We can make it because God is involved in the process of our transformation. This hope can give us a kind of purity of purpose and vision. Because God is committed to our full recovery, we are not alone with our hopes and dreams. Because God is committed to our full recovery, we have a power greater than our own to help with the struggle. Because God is committed to our full recovery, we can find rest and courage in the purity of God's vision for us.

Because God is committed to our full recovery, we can let go of our pathetic little idol gods and turn to the true and living God. When we worshipped a god-of-impossible-expectations, we became driven and compulsive. When we worshipped a god-who-abused, we became fearful and frozen. When we worshipped a god-who-keeps-his-distance, we fought despair. As we begin to see God as loving, we come to believe that we are lovable. As we begin to see that God wants us to let go of our self-destructive behaviors in order to live more fully, we come to believe that we are precious and valuable.

What I see, Lord,
is not always a very pretty picture.
I long for you to appear.
If you enter the picture, everything changes.
Seeing you changes everything
because I know that when I see you,
I am changed.
Seeing you transforms me.
Sink this hope deep within me, Lord.
Purify me with this hope.
Thank you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389164 - 03/13/12 08:57 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.
Ezekiel 11:19

God promises us a heart transplant. God promises to change us. Our stone hearts will be removed and in their place will be put a heart of flesh.

A heart of stone is a dead heart. It is closed to honest, intimate relationships. A heart of stone is unmerciful with itself and with others. But we do become attached to our hearts of stone. And we find ourselves fearing God's promised transplant. Our stone hearts have one thing in their favor - they allow us to feel strong and to appear strong to others. A stone heart is a protected heart. It seems invulnerable. You cannot wound a heart of stone.

God's offer of a heart transplant is a promise of life. A heart of flesh is alive. Only a flesh heart can feel joy. Only a flesh heart can celebrate. Only a heart of flesh can give and receive love. But, the vulnerability of a heart of flesh scares us. A flesh heart does not seem as well protected as a heart of stone. It can feel joy, but it can also feel pain. You can wound a heart of flesh.

God promises to change us. God will remove our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh.

I like the safety of my stone heart, Lord.
But it is hard, cold, dead.
It is a heartless heart, bloodless, lifeless.
Remove it from me.
I want a heart of flesh, Lord.
I want life.
But I am afraid.
Give me the courage to say 'yes'
to your promise of life today.
Remove my heart of stone and
give me a heart of flesh.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389247 - 03/14/12 08:24 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
The Lord replied, 'My presence will go with you and I will give you rest.' Then Moses said to him, 'If your presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.'
Exodus 33:14-15

God promised to be with Moses and to provide him with rest. But no doubt other people had made promises to Moses that were like God's promise. People had promised to be with him but had later abandoned him. So, Moses' fears were not completely vanquished when God promised to be present and to provide rest.

We are like Moses. We are facing a difficult journey. If God goes on ahead and waits for us at the destination, we will never make it. We need God to make the journey with us. We will need God every day. If God does not come, it would better not to go. The dangers are too great. The pain, too overwhelming. We will surely lose our way unless God comes as our guide.

Moses' prayer to God is a good model for us. It is not a sign of doubt or faithlessness to pray for what we need, even if our needs are things which God has already promised to provide. Praying for what we need is good communication. If we are afraid that God will not be faithful, we can share this with God. God will not be shocked. God will not punish. God understands that our capacity for trust has been damaged.

Honestly communicating our fears to God, will build our capacity for trusting God's promises. God has promised to be present with us. And God has promised to provide rest. We will need both to survive the transitions and changes that come with recovery.

Thank you, Lord, for the promise of your presence today.
If you will not go with me,
please don't send me.
Because I can't make it on my own.
The journey is a difficult one.
The path leads through deep valleys.
And, I am sure to lose my way
without your presence to comfort and guide.
Help me to rest today in your promises.
Help me to rest in your loving presence.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389348 - 03/15/12 07:39 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
Though the mountains be shaken
and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will
not be shaken
nor my covenant of peace be removed
says the Lord, who has compassion on you.
Isaiah 54:10

Mountains shake. Hills are removed. That's how it feels sometimes during the process of recovery. Our lives seem to be in constant upheaval as we change and stretch and grow. In the midst of these changes, the Lord has compassion on us. God's love and commitment are reaffirmed. We may feel shaken. We may change. Things may look different. But we can count on God's love. It is unfailing love - love that cannot be shaken.

God's promise of unfailing love for us and God's covenant of peace with us can provide the safety we need today. In the storm of change that recovery brings, God's love provides an anchor of safety and security. God's love can provide a peace and serenity that will not be removed.

Lord, I am shaken.
down to my foundations.
Sometimes I am afraid
of all the changes.
Will anything remain?
Will there be enough left to build on?
I need a foundation for my life, Lord.

For your love, Lord,
love that cannot be shaken,
I give you thanks.
For your covenant of peace, Lord,
peace that will not be removed,
I give you thanks.
Help me to build on the foundation
of your love and peace
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389457 - 03/16/12 08:06 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame.
Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated.
Isaiah 54:4

Experiences of shame lead to fear. When shame causes us to be afraid we make extra efforts to protect ourselves against future experiences of shame. We try hard, for example, to look good. We focus on controlling external appearances. We also try hard to anesthetize our feelings because of our fear of shame. We focus on controlling our feelings so that other people won't get to know us. If they did they might discover the shame we are trying to hide. In this way shame traps us in a cycle of fear and emotional numbing and covering up.

But if we hide our shame, it can never be healed. Our shame heals when we reveal our inner being to people who accept us rather than shame us. This is not an easy process for us because we expect to be shamed. We do not expect to be accepted.

What a remarkably grace-full experience it is when God says "you don't need to be afraid, you will not suffer shame." We can open our hearts to God and find acceptance rather than shaming. God sees our fear. God knows that we want to run and hide. But it is God's desire to heal our deep wound of shame. "You don't have to be afraid," God says to us, "you will not suffer shame or disgrace or humiliation with me."

I have experienced so much shame, Lord.
So much disgrace.
So much humiliation.
Sometimes I want to hide myself from life.
And sometimes I want to numb myself to life.
Sometimes I want to disappear completely.

Thank you for your promise.
It calms my fears and helps me to stop hiding.
It helps me to stop covering up.
Thank you that I can open my heart to you and not suffer shame.
Thank you for the people in my life who accept me and do not shame me.
Protect me, Lord, from shame.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389582 - 03/17/12 10:20 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.
John 14:18

There are many ways to become an orphan. Some children become orphans when their parents die. Others become functional orphans when their parents divorce. Other people become orphans as a result of their parent's emotional unavailability. Anyone who has been neglected, abandoned, or abused by people who were important in their life will appreciate what it is like to be an orphan. It is a painful and lonely experience. Orphans doubt their ability to sustain intimate relationships and find it difficult to trust others. Experiences of abandonment leave us full of loneliness, fear and self-loathing.

Jesus understood the acute pain that orphans experience. In this text he responds to that deep pain with a promise of relationship. "I will not leave you as orphans," Jesus says, "I will not abandon you. You will not be without family because I will come to you."

In Jesus we see most clearly that God is attentive and available to us when we feel abandoned or neglected. God respects our needs and responds to our desires for relationship. God calls us out of the brokenness and dysfunction of our very personal orphanage into the community and fellowship of God's family. We are no longer orphans. We are God's children.

Lord, I know about being an orphan.
I know about abandonment.
Thank you for understanding my fear of separation.
Thank you for understanding my need for your presence.
Come.
Be present today with me.
I want to spend time with you.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389735 - 03/18/12 10:21 PM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
Even to your old age and gray hairs
I am he, I am he who will sustain you.
I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4

There are times in recovery when we feel totally immobilized - times when we cannot 'walk' at all. In times like this, God promises to carry us. When we are weary or burdened or disabled, God will pick us up gently and carry us. There are also times of exhaustion during recovery - times when we can still move but we don't know where we will get the energy for the next step. When we are on long and difficult journeys that require endurance, God promises to sustain us. God will give us strength and patience and hope so that we can keep going. And there are times of great danger in recovery - times when the risks seem overwhelming. When we are in danger, trapped and overwhelmed, God promises to rescue us. God will pull us out of danger and bring us to a safe place.

God's promised help is attentive to and informed by our specific needs. God will not 'rescue' us when what we really need is strength to continue. God will not give us strength when what we really need is to be carried for a time.

Notice that God's promised help has no time limits. God is not going to grow weary and regret having made these promises. God will be with us today, and tomorrow, and each one-day-at-a-time day throughout our lives even to our 'old age and gray hairs'.

Thank you, Lord, for understanding
that I need different things
at different times.
Carry me when I cannot walk.
Sustain me when I need to endure.
Rescue me when I am in danger.
Amen.

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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#389769 - 03/19/12 07:54 AM Re: Daily Meditation [Re: JustScott]
JustScott Offline
Greeter Emeritus
MaleSurvivor

Registered: 01/27/08
Posts: 2590
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18:2-4

Children are naturally curious about life. They look at everything, hear everything, want to know about everything. They are ready for growth and responsive to life. But, childhood dies for many people because of neglect, abuse and losses experienced during early vulnerable years. The eagerness and engagement are poisoned. The responsiveness to life yields to fear and shame.

It is possible, however, to reclaim a lost childhood. It is possible to change in ways that allow us to experience the wonder, the awe, the engagement in life that God intended for us in childhood.

God invites us to experience this kind of change. God invites us to become like little children. Children are humble - they have a straightforward honesty about their feelings and needs. This humility makes childlike awe and engagement in life possible. It is a vulnerable, humble thing to be a child. Children get tired and need naps. Children need other people. Children have more questions than answers.

Jesus invites us to change and become like little children. It is an invitation to true humility which leads to spontaneity, curiosity and engagement in life.

Lord, I want to reclaim
the wonder and delight of childhood.
I want to be eager to learn again.
I want to be ready to love and be loved again.
Give me, Lord, the security and safety I need
to be vulnerable and humble.
Help me to be ready for surprises.
Amen

Copyright Dale and Juanita Ryan


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