Tag Archives: faith

Finding Calcutta

I thought Finding Calcutta by Mary Poplin would be a casual read – some good stories but nothing to write down, meditate about, and share.  I was wrong.  Mary Poplin spent a period of months working beside Mother Teresa.  She is a professor at U of Texas, but writes so even I can understand.  She writes about her inner and outer journey during those months, and I find her insights pierce me.

“Discouragement is a sign of pride.  It shows that I was focused on results, perhaps in my own power, rather than faith and obedience to God’s direction and his responsibility for results.”

As I read, I was faced with my own self.  Her insights on generosity humbled and frightened me, and I realized that I’ve never really sacrificed.  Her experiences of obedience stressed that my faithfulness to God’s present call prepares me for his call later.  If God calls me to wash windows, I must wash them so the angels stop and say, “There is a great window washer, a man faithful to his call.  What a servant of God!”  Obedience is the path to “my Calcutta”.

This book is an easy, but slow, read.  It was easy to understand, but the application of what I understood made me pause in every chapter.  Truth is like that.

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Filed under Be Like Jesus, Missions

Faithfulness

weekly theme #49 Faithfulness*     

week containing the Sunday between October 2-8

Faithfulness seems to be a two-way street.  I receive God’s faithfulness and he receives mine.  Certainly, I have the better part of that arrangement, both in purity of the faithfulness and in its depth.  Yes, without a doubt, I am getting the better end of this relationship.  Then what keeps me from living in complete faith?

I think my faith in God is diluted by my faith in other items: people, money, position, medicine, strategy, organizations, and the like.  All those things are valuable but only as secondary to faith in, and to, the Lord.  What else hinders my faithfulness?  I tend to think of faithfulness as a personally generated quality.  Faithfulness is rooted in my faith, and I can’t generate faith on my own efforts.  God gives faith to me.  (Romans 12:3)  Acknowledging my need for more faith and humbling myself to admit I don’t control it are two excellent steps toward being more faithful.

Trial and difficulty provide pressures that humble me and force me to turn to God.  Either I can beg God to rescue me from my adversity or I can ask him to build my faith as I go through it.  Yes, even faithful people have trials.  Hebrews 11:32-12:2 shows that even faithful followers will suffer.  The severity of suffering will vary, perhaps gauged by what I can bear.  Suffering does not indicate poor faith in me or a lack of love and faithfulness by God.  Suffering and faithfulness can live in the same house.  In fact, Jesus modeled perfect faithfulness and love while simultaneously suffering.  He was faithful to Father as an obedient servant, and he was faithful to me as the loving Lamb of God.

Jesus told a story about a man who entrusted his servants with money to invest for him while he traveled.  (If you don’t know the story, see Matthew 25:144-30 or Luke 19:12-27.)  The story leaves out one character that I longed to know about.  What would have happened if the servant had invested the master’s money, but ended up with less than what the Master gave him?  How would the master have responded?  That bothered me for a long time, but someone told me that the master gave the money to the servants because he had faith they would succeed if they tried.  I don’t need to hide from God’s assignments because he already knows the results.  What happens will be no surprise to him.  Therefore, even if I don’t have faith in myself, I can have faith in the Master’s faith in me!

God is faithful regardless of my unfaithfulness because faithfulness is his character.  I can be faithful because of who he is and in the face of all other things.

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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God Our Source Of Hope

weekly theme #39 God Our Source Of Hope*      

week containing the Sunday between July 24-30

My best hope for the future cannot be any earthly thing, family, government, or especially me.  The object of hope must transcend all those things because any of those things can fail, even be the source of my hopelessness.  The source of my hope is critical to the longevity and endurance of my hope.  My hope persists if my source is personal and has a history of reliability.  God certainly meets those two criteria.  Jesus is LORD, and the qualities that make him the perfect LORD will never change.  He is the only thing eternal, and so are his qualities.  Therein is my hope, beyond time or space or any limitation.  The conditions in the world seem hopeless because the solutions seem beyond humanity’s capacity to understand, let alone accomplish them.  Exactly.

To me, hope sounds a little fragile compared to faith.  Faith seems assured and is akin to belief, and hope sounds a bit more wishful and uncertain.  I have experienced both hope and faith, and together they can give me an exciting anticipation for the future.

Many things can thwart my hope’s fulfillment, and two of them are totally my fault.  First, my hope may be within my grasp, but I don’t want to let go of that to which I am now clinging.  Second, I’m not looking for my hope’s fulfillment; I’m just hoping.  In addition, even when I am looking, I can be looking in the wrong places for that fulfillment of hope.    Hope cannot be passive.  Hope without my active cooperation and involvement is really begging.  Begging is appropriate at times, but I must not call it hope.

Stories are perhaps the best way to “teach” hope.  I can enter a story and find my places, both where I am and where I want to be.  Stories confront without being confrontational, call to me without yelling, and instruct without being bossy.  As long as there are stories of hope, there will be hope – and more stories!

*A Guide To Prayer by Job and Shawchuck provided the scripture references and readings that inspired these reflections.  I found this devotional to be the most heart changing of any I’ve used.  It truly lives up to its title.

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Man, Science, and God

Three sentences in the October 3, 2011 edition of Time magazine gave me reason to pause.  They enlightened me to how some people think and where they place their hope.

First, there was a two-page advertisement by Dow Chemical Company which contained a sentence that made me gasp.  I was stunned.   It read, “Together, the elements of science and the human element can solve anything.”

Then, page twenty had a commentary by Lisa Randall who teaches Physics at Harvard.  In 2007, she was voted by Time magazine as one of the one-hundred most influential people.  Let me quote the two sentences that caught my attention, “Adherents who want to accept both religious influences on the world and scientific explanations for its workings are obliged to confront the chasm between tangible effects and unseen, imperceptible influences that is unbridgeable by logical thought.  They have no choice but to admit the inconsistency – or simply overlook the contradiction.”   I’ve read those sentences a few times, and here’s what I think she means.  Religion and science are incompatible because science is logical and religion is not.

I don’t intend to argue about these two statements.  I’m still reeling from them.  I want to consider what this means for those who hold such beliefs, and what does this mean for me, someone who does not.

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