Archive for the ‘sustaining’ Category
My friends, please don’t have a medical crisis that calls for CPR if it’s ever just the two of us, with no one else around; if the EMT’s don’t arrive quickly, you might die.
I have taken several CPR classes, but I always wonder if I could successfully perform the procedure on a needy person if the situation called for it. The single thing that gives me the slightest glimmer of hope for you in our little scenario is the mnemonic ABC—airway, breathing, circulation. I do remember these “handles” from my training, and they are enough—I think—to jog my brain and the rest of my body into taking the corresponding appropriate action.
That, of course, is the whole point of memorizing “ABC”, repeating it over and over during the training, getting it into my head through every avenue available, until I know it forward, backward, inside out. It’s knowledge meant to sustain in the needy moment.
I see a connection here to the case that can be made for Bible memorization. In our American educational system, memorizing has been somewhat set aside in recent years as “old school”. We used to call it “learning by rote.” Rote is defined as “a memorizing process using routine or repetition, often without full attention or comprehension”. Those who would eliminate this memorization method often do so based on that last part of the definition—just learning the words, facts, or figures without fully comprehending can’t be that valuable, they say.
I would be the first to recognize that it won’t do you much good, lying there unresponsive before me in need of CPR , if all I can remember is “ABC” and I don’t know the corresponding actions to take. But, hopefully, the ABC memory trigger creates the hook where action hangs its hat. In the same way merely knowing the words to hundreds of Bible verses may help me win the Bible Bee in Sunday school without being of much additional use in my life if it never translates from head knowledge into practice.
In my own experience, getting God’s Word into my head has often been the first step in getting it into my heart. Many times, when I need the wisdom and light of God’s truth, I don’t have a Bible at hand (just as I probably won’t have my first aid book at hand when you need that CPR). But it is an amazing moment, if I stop later to analyze, when a verse I memorized during a summer Bible club more than forty years ago flits and lands right in the bull’s-eye of my heart need at just the right time. That is the fire of God’s Spirit using the fuel of His Word to ignite the flame by which I’m able to see my next step along the path or the need of my neighbor who lies along that path wounded and beaten up by life. Through memorization, that Word is constantly accessible to me in places and during activities where I cannot or do not take my Bible, like in the shower or behind the wheel of the car, or when I’m talking with my neighbor or standing in the checkout lane at Wal-Mart. These are places where God speaks His sustaining Word to me or where His Spirit may prompt me to speak it to another.
My fifteen-year-old son and I have been memorizing Isaiah 53 in our homeschool during this Lenten season. I learned the chapter long ago from the King James Bible, so this is a tune-up for me, tweaking my recall now from a different translation. But I have to tell you, something is happening this time through that did not happen when I memorized that passage in a memory challenge years ago. There have been mornings in the past couple of weeks that I’ve repeated those words and have nearly wept at pondering the fact that all the piercing, crushing, and wounding that Jesus withstood was for me. It’s the familiar cadence of the ancient words, learned first through plain old drill, that has left room for the Holy Spirit to put the spotlight on the revisited truth.
More than once the Psalmist mentions the activity of meditating on God’s Word. Again, not always having a Bible in hand, I can meditate on verses I have memorized—chew as a cow would chew its cud; crude illustration, but the purpose of the activity is thorough digestion. It is said we are what we eat—likewise, we become what we take in and digest of God’s Truth.
I am 52 years old. I still memorize, but not nearly as easily (or often) as I did when I was 6 or 12 or 21. I am thankful that I grew up in a faith tradition where Scripture memorization was encouraged. God’s Word sustains—the posts that have preceded this one this week give testimony to that. God’s Word memorized sustains—it’s like the high quality trail mix you carry in your backpack as you travel through life. Always there, ready when you need it…and if you keep hiking and keep renewing your supply, it’s always fresh.
seeking not to understand
but strength to do Your will
seeking not to be heard
but to hear the still small voice
seeking not the answers
but to trust the Solid Rock
seeking not feel Your touch
but to know that You are near
seeking not to work and do
but rest in who You are
Seeking not Your movement
but the movement of my heart
seeking not to suffer less
but to suffer more like You
seeking not escape
but to walk along the way
seeking not to see the end
but to see me as You do
seeking not to help myself
but help for what You’ve called me to
seeking not to grasp
but to be held
” . . . seek first his kingdom and his righteousness . . . “
Sustaining – How do you keep going? What sustains you in your relationship with Jesus? On cold days and weeks and months when you are cold and hungry and thirsty, what feeds you?These are the questions posed for this week’s discussion. At first the questions troubled me. If I only read the first question, the answer is easy – Jesus! He is the One who keeps me going. Then I read the second question and at first I drew a blank – mostly because He was the answer to the first question. My answer to the third question is the same as the first – Jesus! He feeds me, warms me and quenches my thirst.
But it wasn’t always so. The longer I have thought about the questions, the more I realized that there was a time when I wondered if I could hold on to faith. It was in those early days of faith – I had been raised in church all my life but those first days, months and even years of testing MY faith, I wondered…is this worth it?
I would try to live faithfully and fail – serving God as if he was a bit of a tyrant always looking for ways to “get me” and punish me for a wrong thought, a mean word or some other misstep.
Yet there was something about Him that continued to draw. Each time I failed, even though there was this fear of punishment, He still drew me. In time, I learned that He wasn’t out to “get me” but to have a relationship with me. I began to realize that any spiritual discomfort was not from punishment but from pulling away and keeping a distance from Him.
There came a time – and I’m not sure when or how – I found Him to be my refuge and strength. Instead of looking for ways to sustain my faith or to sustain my relationship with Him, I was seeking Him to sustain me in marriage, in ministry, in times of grief and in times of great challenge.
When there are places – relationships, ministries, etc – that are cold, lacking in some way, I find myself retreating to the only One who can bring sustenance to any of those. I retreat to the place of prayer – read Scriptures and wait on Him. He comes and I am renewed.
Tonight it was my mother’s prayer that sustained me. I had reached a breaking point a few hours earlier. You know, the point where you’re so sick and tired of being sick and tired that you just want to give up, but since you can’t do that (or at least I can’t), you break down instead.
Okay, maybe you have no idea what I’m talking about. Others, I’m sure, have been there more than once. I was there today. An event I had worked and planned for, anticipated and looked forward to, arrived; and as hard as I tried today, ultimately I didn’t have the strength to attend.
I had a good cry and got over feeling sorry for myself, but I was left feeling weak and worried about myself. Some of it may be anxiety over a medical test scheduled for tomorrow, and add to that the heavy stress of feeling homeless right now even though I have a roof over my head.
We were supposed to move to a beautiful new (to us) home tomorrow. Instead, we’re walking around stacks of boxes and a For Sale sign is staked in our front yard. Just hours before we were scheduled to close on our property sale last week, the buyer reneged on the contract. That caused us to lose the house we had bought.
My mom is worried about me too, so she came over to check on me tonight. We talked a while and as she got up to leave, she started to say, “I’m praying for you.” I could tell that’s what she was going to say, but her words trailed off.
Instead of finishing her sentence, she simply walked over to my chair, put her hand on my head and started to pray. Out loud.
Suddenly I was four years old again. Comforted by my mother’s touch, strengthened by the sound of her voice, confident in her faith. My heartbeat slowed and my breathing calmed as she verbally put God in remembrance of promises she had taught me from Scripture.
That’s ultimately what sustains me. Not my mother’s prayers, although I cherish them. I’m sustained by faith in bedrock promises. Promises made by One who flung the stars across the sky and sustains the planets in their orbits.
sustaining all things by his powerful word.
When all that was vibrant and teaming with life
feels like pewter plate–heavy and dull;
When the duties of worker and mother and wife
leave me hollowed, a beaten-down hull;
Your Word is a light flick’ring fast in the gloom,
and Your Wind blows a life-giving breeze through my desolate room.
The bow which caresses the string strokes a lingering tone
which hangs on the air with a tremulous trust.
The Word suspends each spinning sphere on a track of its own,
and their circular dance shapes the seasons for us.
When I can’t feel my pulse for the numbness inside,
and my heart is a stone in my chest;
When I’ve run out of salt for the tears that I’ve cried,
and my sleep is too heavy for rest;
I’ll remember the God who created this clay,
Who crafted with purpose each numbered, deliberate day.
And I know Peter’s feet found a footpath on top of the waves…
and he took a few steps till he faltered and sank like a stone.
Help me stand on Your Word that it isn’t my willing that saves–
help me trust in Your promises– firmer than all of my own.
When I don’t see the point of the things that I’ve planned,
and I shudder and tear up the list;
When I fear that what’s under my floor is just sand,
and I can’t see my feet for the mist,
I remember the beam that’s supporting my weight
is the wood of the cross where You hung to reverse my sad fate.
And I know that the Red Sea was parted, and Jericho fell,
and that Lazarus lived, and an angel appeared in a cell.
And I stand on Your words when my own are all crumbled to dust.
And Your promise upholds me when there’s nothing else I can trust.
Since becoming Catholic again almost 15 years ago, the one thing that has continually and consistently sustained me on my journey of faith is the Eucharist.
Each Sunday I am welcomed to the table with Him and each Sunday I get to re-live the Last Supper, to re-live, ‘This is my body, this is my blood, do this in memory of me’.
There were times when I struggled with the idea of transubstantiation and talked about the Eucharist as symbol. However, there is nothing more profound or key to my faith than acknowledging the presence of Christ in that holy meal.
Each mass, I get to break bread with disciples, as He did, and be connected through the golden thread of Church history back to that moment, in an upper room where He celebrated Passover with the Twelve. And by virtue of this Passover celebration, be connected to thousands of years of Passovers before. I get to celebrate at the table with unleavened bread and wine as so many have for centuries before and after Him, connected to a religion which reaches back to prophets and miracles and a people’s desire to honor and to live God’s will.
Each Sunday I am welcomed at the table of the Lord. Each Sunday I break bread with disciples, when the priest holds up bread and wine and requests that each one of us take it because this is His body, which has been given up for us.
Each Sunday I am welcomed to the table of the Lord with my family, my friends, and my neighbors. Each one of us, fallible in every sense of the word, together receiving Him, fed by bread and wine, made whole by sacrifice, nourished to continue.