Do you remember the ’70s rock opera, Jesus Christ Superstar? I saw a TV version not long ago. Though the story line is iffy theologically, I love the music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice, especially, “I Don’t Know How to Love Him.” Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, but how do we do that? When I tell God I love him, what kind of love is that? Is it need-love only? I love God because he gives me what I need? If that’s the case, I can’t call myself a mature Christian. Love can be shown by giving gifts or offerings, but God already has everything. Through worship? But he doesn’t need our worship either. God doesn’t need anything; he is all give, all outgoing in his love for us. All he wants is a relationship with his children, you and me. But, there is something we do have to give up at times. We have to give back to him something he gave us that we prize most highly—our will. Thankfully, our Savior led the way: “Lord, not my will, but yours.”
A friend questioned some of my comments in “God’s Will—Really?” So, if she has questions, I’m sure others do too. No, I don’t believe everything that happens is by default, God’s will. When I prayed for people in the path of hurricane Sally, I realized God rarely interferes with the natural laws he has set in motion. If he answered every one of our prayers individually to interfere with natural laws, this planet would be in chaos. I prayed anyway. (I have precedent. Jesus calmed a storm.) When my loved ones are ill, it may be a consequence of accidents or of environmental pollution or of their own unwise choices, and they may have to suffer through, but I pray anyway. (Again, I have precedent. Jesus is a healer and a forgiver of sins.) I don’t believe God is an absentee parent or a so-called helicopter parent, but he’s always available to each of us. I may be somewhat of a mystic in the sense I believe God communicates with me personally, but I believe he does. I’m not special in this. I believe he will personally and individually speak to anyone who desires and seeks that kind of relationship with him. I hope I’m being childlike and not childish in my beliefs. Thank you, dear friend. I hope this helped answer yours and any other’s questions.
Maybe it’s the kid in me, but I enjoy reading the comics in the newspaper. Some of my favorites have puns, which I enjoy. Some aren’t that funny, but I read them anyway. And others poke fun at our human foibles, making me cringe and think. One of those showed a friend calling another to see what he was reading. The friend replied that yes, he was planning to read, but now that his phone was in his hand, he was going to “check social media and slip into a doom spiral.” Yikes! Yes, that happens to me! When I get a message alert, it’s hard not to also check emails or Facebook or whatever. I rarely check Twitter because that can quickly put me into a “doom spiral.” Right now my phone is my link to the outside world, but for my physical, mental and spiritual health, I must set limits. Our world is going kind of crazy right now!
My morning’s reading about Jesus’ reaction to tax collector Zacharias was encouraging. The Jewish people had good reason to hate Roman tax collectors, but when one of their own took the job, they were really incensed. The Jews were heavily taxed. They had regular taxes plus an annual poll tax and a land tax and taxes on the transportation of goods. And, as religious Jews, they also had the temple tax and their tithes to pay. Zacharias was a chief tax collector supervising other tax collectors and so could have siphoned off even more money from the public. When they heard Jesus inviting himself to Zacharias’ house they were not happy. Although the text doesn’t say Zacharias himself was a thief, the people saw all tax collectors as greedy crooks taking advantage of them. But Jesus saw something different about Zacharias. He saw a repentant heart. It’s encouraging because it reinforces that no matter how awful someone’s reputation is or what terrible things they may have done, we’re not able to see their heart. Only Jesus knows what’s in there and also the very time they will repent of their actions and come to him. Only Jesus knows, not us.
Do you find it easy to say God’s will be done and really mean it? During the last year and a half, I’ve had serious cause to think about this question. We know God’s will for our lives or for our loved ones’ lives is always the best. God’s view is in the present moment always, seeing the past, the present and the future all at once. He knows what is best for us. Yet when my son’s or my daughter’s life or my grandchild’s or another loved one’s life is on the line, I hesitate. That’s when I want his will to be my will, not the other way around. It’s a real struggle for me—a Jacob wrestling with the angel/Lord kind of struggle or a David fasting and praying for his ill child. Why should I fear God’s will when I know he will make everything turn out for the good—for all concerned? Because it’s scary, like stepping out of the boat and walking on the water to Jesus. It takes a kind of faith I can’t come up with. It takes the gift of our Savior’s faith, through the Holy Spirit. Help me, Lord!
Missing the ocean this morning!
Hurried to get my camera, but too late. A couple of pileated woodpeckers are coming to my birdbath every day. They’re the largest of the Texas woodpeckers, black with a red crest on their heads and white streaks across their faces, so they’re hard to miss. Except when you want to take their photo! I love watching them. But not everyone cares for woodpeckers. One of my sons-in-law is an example. He and my daughter have a house with cedar siding so woodpeckers live up to their name and can create large holes in the cedar. He’s dashed out to run them off so often even the grandkids recognize their call and shout “woodpecker” when they hear them. What marvelous creatures God has created! It’s obvious he loves variety, whether in beetles, birds or beasts. All his designs are originals too, and that includes you and me.
Every so often I like to ask how everyone’s doing. We’ve had record-breaking heat, massive hurricanes, racial unrest and nastiest of all, a deadly worldwide virus. After people you know and love start being affected, even the jokes going around about 2020 seem less funny somehow. Some wonder if God is trying to get our attention. Maybe he has had enough of us and our problems. If we were being graded as a nation or as a world, I’m sure we would come up short. Some feel estranged from God, as if he’s turned his back on them personally. But we have no need to worry, we can be assured God will never turn his back on us, not as an individual or as a world. How can I know that? Because along with carrying our sinful burdens to the cross with him, Jesus suffered that horror for us as well. He suffered the painful agonies of feeling God had turned his back on him so we don’t have to.
Several years ago I sold the last horse I will probably ever own or will ever ride. It pains me to say that, but I have to be realistic. Letting go of anything you love is hard. All of us in this pandemic are suffering losses of one kind or another. We wish we could be with our families and friends more. We miss going to church, face-to-face church, not just virtual. Although I thank God we have the technological options that allow us to worship online. It’s been half a year now and you probably know someone who has had or is suffering from COVID-19. I know I do—close family members as well as others. Are there any positives? Maybe what we have materially doesn’t mean as much as before. Perhaps we’ve had time to reevaluate our busy schedules and let something go. Or could it be we’re realizing, no matter who we are or where we live or what our race or religion, we’re all in this together. Let’s look for the positives.
I don’t have bees in my bonnet, I have wasps in my attic! Every so often I noticed a wasp in the house and wondered how it got in. The little intruders are red wasps so they aren’t aggressive, but a bug is a bug. When I saw some fly from the half-moon window in my living room, I had new grout put around the window. They still showed up. Then a couple more were up on a ceiling vent in the master bathroom. This happened several times, so I checked outside my house. Aha! Wasps were coming and going from the roof outside the bathroom. They were coming in through a hole under a shingle. As much as I hate pesticides, I had to call an exterminator to get rid of the nest and then another guy to seal up the hole in the roof. Though wasps may be just little bugs, getting rid of them can sure be a headache–and expensive!