Category Archives: Contemplations

devotional thoughts

gentle stream

The Gentle Stream of Grace

I used to work so hard at my faith.
That is not a value judgment, just a statement of fact. Not sure that it could be otherwise, given the set of circumstances that made up “me” at the beginning of my personal walk with God. It didn’t need to be quite as hard as I made it, though.

Today, I am aware of how much that has changed, and how I seem to be flowing in an almost effortless stream of Grace. Maybe this is how the accumulation of choices begins to look, like a growing force of a stream that carries us further than our own efforts could manage.

A reverse of the warning in Proverbs:

Proverbs 6:9-11

9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard?
When will you rise from your sleep?
10 A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to sleep—
11 So shall your poverty come on you like a prowler,
And your need like an armed man.

I have experienced that side of it, too, in the power of accumulated choices.

Perhaps, some of the ease comes from having settled, once and for all, some of the questions, and some of the terms of life.

I am realizing the line between what I can hope to change and what I cannot, and it has reduced much of the struggle that made life so hard.

I wonder how much age has to do with it. Age requires that you realize your own limitations, and makes one quicker to let go and “Let God”, which is experienced as ‘Grace’. Until you let go of your own trust in your willpower and ability, you can’t experience the power of something else.

Too often we labor at hand grubbing at life problems, when the power tiller of prayer could do the job in less than a fraction of the time.

I doubt that all of life can be experienced as a gentle ride in a beautiful stream on a lovely day. But this is what I found out: some of it can.

I see why the parable of the Sower was so basic to understanding things about God and how His Kingdom works. He set the understanding within the life of a seed.

  • We are important – in distributing seed, and in helping to create conditions for its germination.
  • We are limited in both those actions.
  • God sends the rain, but we can help to water between times.
  • We watch for weeds, we nurture along.
  • We have no power over the life in the seed.
  • We have no power over the conditions of the weather.
  • We have no power over the growing process, we can only provide supplements and hope for the best.
  • We can give thanks when it completes its cycle.

The stream of Grace is a bit like the well prepared garden bed. It is a good environment for the progression forward.

A state of readiness.

There is a time to rest and a time to work, the balance between the two is one of the pearls of wisdom in this life.

I love pearls. And now appreciate gentle streams.


Christian Culture

For some reason I have been looking at the culture that for many years I simply took for granted. Christian culture as it has taken on its form from American Church. Much of it I have to admit to not really liking. This is not an expose, or a critical essay, not at all. I love the meetings and the worship, the instruments and singing, I love a good sermon. But there is a lot of hype and flash, and a false front that goes along with it in our culture, as well. I want to see that replaced… not on a large wholesale scale,but on the local level, as groups of like-minded individuals meet together and prioritize the love and honor that is meant to be woven into the fabric of the koinonia “communion by intimate participation” meeting of sincere believers in Christ.

No local churches in mind, these thoughts were mostly inspired by the inability to watch more than a little of some Christian TV lately… and simply thinking about what is endemic to many of the types of churches that I attend. Christianity in its foundational aspects is beautiful. The encrustations of some of the worst things we humans have done to it need to come off. I think that best describes the thing I’d like to say here.

The Hollywood look cast aside, the toothy smile of the salesmen turned off, replaced with sincerity, reality, humility.

That is what I want to aim for living, encouraging and cultivating in my culture and relationships. I often see a conflict between values and traditions internally, but I truly want the sincere form to come to the fore and the hyper materialistic and self promoting one to fade into the vapor.

photo by hello-julie

At the Fountain

It’s All God Stuff

People love, and need, to compartmentalize their time, interests, and efforts. It is how we make sense of things. But sometimes the compartments disguise reality, or the true nature of things. Take the way we schedule ourselves. I’m the worst when it comes to this… there is homeschool, housework,yard, computer, church…. stuff. Sometimes one gets the lionshare of whatever resource I can throw at it, only to be pushed out of the way by nagging (sometimes screaming) demands to take care of something else. Somewhere in there I try to fit priorities on the God, others, and me levels. I have to confess I don’t believe I’ve done a very good job at parceling out myself with all these compartments and priorities.

But one thing that is finally getting through to me is that it is all “God stuff”. That everything in my life does matter to God, and that I … and everything about me… belongs to God. Because I made that decision some thirty or more years ago. I decided to trade the shamble of my life and personality for the life of God’s choosing. Even though I still managed to make a shamble of much of that! Yet, it isn’t too late to turn the day, and every day over to God for His call on all this stuff of life, first. First, before I take over and filter it and layer it, to ask the Father God what He has in mind for me, today. To stop arguing with Him, stop defining who I am, stop wrestling with what I want and how I am going to get it. And find out what the Father wants today.

That is how Jesus lived.

It both places the trivial in perspective, and lifts up the overlooked important details. In this, size does not matter. Sometimes our big, important goals are trivial in the eternal view, and sometimes our overlooked details are things that make all the difference. so how are we to know? How to discern the important from the waste of time? Let God have all the stuff, it belongs to Him anyway… and let His spirit, His words, and His principles apply to the day, and the schedules… and the goals.

Why should I be so harried about whether something gets done or whether I receive notice, or an number of things that fuel my efforts? Instead my focus on my relationship with the Father God, with the image of Christ in others, and in each task giving glory to God is going to insure proper attention to relationship which is always most important for humankind. And it will give the attempt at excellence to be given to those things of most value.

This type of thought process always returns my memory to a little tome I read so long ago, ‘Practicing the Presence of God‘ by Brother Lawrence. we can find God throughout all of our day, if we will practice looking for Him and recognizing Him.

It is a simple thing really, to recognize that it is all God stuff.