grace and love


(I wrote this in the days following my 92 year old mom admission to a nursing home. It was my soul processing)

There is a saying from the Good Book: You reap what you sow. (Gal. 6:7) Some sow trouble… The Book says, Those who sow with trouble reap it. (Job 4:8) Some sow with generosity… The Book says, Those who sow with generousity will reap also generously. (2 Cor. 9:6) Some sow with tears… The Book says, Those who goes out weeping carry seed to sow, will return with songs of joy carrying sheaves with her. (Psalm 126:6)

My mom loved her garden and planted many seeds. She planted for beauty. She planted for love. She planted for joy. And that’s what grew in her garden- beauty, love and joy.

There were times when strangling weeds came up in the soil of the garden. Weeds that devourer the nutrients of all the soil. So other plants were in danger of destruction. The weeds looked deceptively attractive at times. So it can be confused with the flowers. But left to themselves they would go out of control and take over all the garden. Fortunately mom realized this and worked hard at getting rid of these weeds, painfully pulling them out one by one. Thus she saved her garden.

One day, mom was offered a very special seed as a gift. It came with a promise that it would increase the beauty, love and joy of the garden. It would be a magnificent tree, the centerpiece of her garden. It would endure when all other plants and flowers withered.

Mom grew to love this tree. It provided shade for her to rest under and fruit for her to enjoy. She shared her garden freely to many people, often making baskets of fruit and flowers for visitors to take home.

Gardening got more and more difficult as she grew older. It became much more painful for her to get on her knees and weed. Many of the flowers and plants withered. Mom was so sad.

But the tree remained strong. And under its shade she found beauty, love and joy. The Book says, He is the Vine and we are the branches. The branches bears fruit as it abides in the Vine. (John 15:5) The Book also says, The world and its desires pass away but those one who does the will of God lives forever. And, This is the will of my Father, to believe in Me. (John 6:29)

The tree sustained her life here. Her faith in that Tree gives her life beyond this one.

I imagine one day, when my mom is in heaven, she will have a garden where there is beauty, love and joy.

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If we are honest in our practical theology (the belief we live out), we would say change first then grace. The emphasis on what we do, the steps we need to take, be it noble or be it desperate, overshadows the truth of grace. Resisting Grace attempts to flip back this theology to being right side up again: Grace first, change follows. Individuals, families, communities and nations change, not because of the mustarding of moral efforts but because love has been experienced first and so we love.

Richard Rhor is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. We may comes from different places of the kingdom but I have felt a kindred spirit with him. I want to know the mystery, the mysticism of grace in my life and pass it on the my wife, my child , my friends and to the world.

Moralism Instead of Mysticism, Richard Rhor

God always entices us through love.

Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change, is the experience of love and acceptance itself. This is the engine of change. If the mystics say that one way, they say it a thousand ways. But because most of our common religion has not been at the mystical level, we’ve been given an inferior message—that God loves you when you change (moralism). It puts it all back on you, which is the opposite of being “saved.” Moralism leads you back to “navel-gazing,” and you can never succeed at that level. You are never holy enough, pure enough, refined enough, or loving enough. Whereas, when you fall into God’s mercy, when you fall into God’s great generosity, you find, seemingly from nowhere, this capacity to change. No one is more surprised than you are. You know it is a total gift.

Adapted from Following the Mystics Through the Narrow Gate
. . . Seeing God in All Things (CD, DVD, MP3)

all yours

My wife and I each lead separate women and men groups. (you can look at my old blog site theslantedview.com to read some reflections from past groups I have done) This past forty days both have taken on the love challenge where members plan out actions of love for each day outside of group. During group time we discuss what we did and what it was like doing it. Many of the group members in both groups express how difficult it has been to keep on track each day with their plans.

The discussion regarding love actions is not the actions itself but what I identify as the Intentionality and attentionality of the love. Though anyone can take each day and just check off the task of love they set for themselves, most find it stretching them beyond a checklist. It is thinking with intentionality. I am going to do this out of love. It has helped the members remind themselves of the motives behind what they seek to do.

It is also forty days of attentionality. What I mean by that is whomever is the object for that day to pour love on, so not to merely make it a checklist activity, it requires giving full attention toward what the other desires, needs, thinks, feels and does. It is paying attention to the other, not just deciding this is what I will do to act in love toward you.

be intentional and pay attention

thats what I learned about love in these past forty days