I think of the Lord as sowing seeds, inviting us all our lives long. It is up to up whether we hear his invitation. It’s us to us whether we answer his call. But the invitations are always being issued to each of us: to freedom, to your true self, to love, to truth, to God who embodies those fundamental qualities, exemplifies them.
Jesus tells the parable of the sower sowing seeds; some fall on fertile ground and thrive; others on rocky soil where there is no possibility of growth for them; some fall on thorny soil and look for a while as if they can sustain life, but then die, too.[Matthew 13:1-9] So the sower, read God, keeps inviting us and the kind of soil we provide depends on our openness to his invitations, to life itself. How fertile is the ground within you for God’s invitations? Will they flourish? Or fail? Will you be open to God?
How do these invitations come to us? For me they mostly come in my thoughts, but they are each unlike anything I ever think, so they startle me, surprise me. They come in my dreams, too, sometimes. And they come from other people recommending books or movies or a different kind of thinking. They come from what I read sometimes, asking me to open up the way I think. Below are a few very important examples from my journey with Christ.
“Surrender your life.” I had tried and tried for several years to surrender my life to God and I nearly gave up. What I realize now is that the ego cannot ever surrender. That it was up to my soul to surrender my life to God. This is how it happened. My husband and I had three small children. We were traveling home from the East Coast where we had visited both our parents. On the flight home I heard in me, “Write!” And I, like Bill Cosby doing Noah, said, “Right!” sarcastically. Over the next few weeks, I kept hearing that voice saying, “Write!” Finally, I said, “Okay!!!!” and for several days I wrote in every spare moment, on any scrap of paper I could grab. One thing I remember writing about was the courage to be me. And in the midst of my ego being distracted by the writing, one day I just surrendered my life. It wasn’t a plan, but it did happen.
For three days I was walking on air. I came crashing down to the ground with this thought: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” I spent the next three weeks writing about all the gods who came between me and God: my sugar addiction, what other people thought, clothes, material stuff, the list went on for pages. You could say that I have spent the last thirty years giving up to God what is on that list.
“I have an agenda for my life.” Again this was a thought that ran through my mind—like nothing I had ever thought before. I was raised in the 40’s and 50’s. I was inhabiting roles—wife, mother, volunteer; I had no idea who the “I” was, nor what the agenda was. I was just following the expectations my parents had held for me.
So my approach to everything changed from what “should” I be doing to “what do I really want to do.” I made a list of things that had occurred to me, that I had not deemed religious or spiritual enough, ones that I had readily dismissed. I did them, one by one, without judgment about whether I “should” be doing them. I just did them because they were things I had wanted to do, but rejected. The only one I remember was a style course that would teach me what kind of clothes looked good on me.
“How can I say I love God, if I can’t love my mother.” This was a truly powerful thought because it got me right in my guilt about Mom. As a teenager I was passive aggressive towards her—“You can’t make me do anything!” My feelings about my Mom were getting in the way of my relationship with God. So, not even knowing how to go about this, I tried to become an adult in our relationship. Mainly, I voiced my disagreements with her, trying to engage her in a real dialogue, but we were so different that she could not ever see my point of view. And I felt guilty doing even this because I had been taught not to talk back to my parents. This went on for a couple of years after my Dad died.
Then my husband and I spent a weekend with her in Wilmington, Delaware. At the end of the weekend she took us to the train station. While we’re up by the tracks for a few minutes, suddenly we were surrounded by a cloud of love. That’s what I experienced at the time. A few minutes later and we’re on the train to Connecticut and all I could say was this over and over again, “I can’t believe that God took my bitchiness and turned it into love!!!!” My husband had felt the love also, but when I asked my mother later about she was unaware of it. She did, however, totally change her attitude to me. No longer was she complaining about how little I wrote or called, how seldom I came to visit, etc. She was from then on grateful for every single thing I did for her.
And it changed me, too; I was able to look at my Mom with the eyes of love. Later, after a stroke, she moved to California to live close to us and became a real part of our family. The Lord had healed us both.
Questions to ponder over the week: What is God saying to you? And are you listening, really listening so that you do what he asks? Are there changes to be made in how you live, or how you worship or what you do? How do you feel about what you hear from God?
Blessing for the week: May we be the people of God who attend to the Indwelling Spirit’s voice within us. May we follow it faithfully. May we be blessed by what we hear and do.
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