Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Sometimes I find it difficult walking the line between being earnest in self-examination...striving for the right path...and being too hard on myself...to the point of being unmerciful. On most days I am much more apt to see what is wrong in me...where I have failed...than to see what I did to please God. Of course when I do feel a sense of happiness and satisfaction in having done something that I think pleases Him, I quickly identify this self-satisfaction as pride and chastise myself for feeling good about doing what I should be doing anyway.

But thankfully, passages like today's first reading (Rom 10:9-18) remind me that I am saved not by my successes...not by my accomplishments...but by my belief in Jesus...my trust in Him. I say this very cognizant of the faith vs. works debate that has long raged between Protestants and Catholics. And to that all I can say (beyond what The Church teaches) is that for me...my belief and trust are work. Everyday I have a decision...and really every moment of everyday...to follow Him. That decision...that choice is my affirmation (or denial) of my belief and faith in Jesus. My life is recognizably different when I am working out my faith...and striving to please God. Unfortunately, my striving does not always end in success.

But I need to recall the lesson I learned from a fantastic book by Henri Nouwen titled, "The Return of the Prodigal Son. Taking inspiration from Rembrandt's "Return of the Prodigal Son," Nouwen takes the reader through a spiritual journey aimed at bestowing the reader with a radically new appreciation for the life-changing reality that God loves us...He truly loves us. Even though we reject Him and are selfish and take advantage of His blessings and distort His truth and pervert His gifts...He still loves us. St. Paul teaches us this so very plainly in Scripture:
While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
And so today, in the light of Christ's saving grace...I renew again my pledge to always keep God's love for me and for everyone at the forefront of everything I think and do. Though I will fail today, I am still loved. Though I will give in to weakness today, I am still His Child. And though I will sin...thank God...I am also saved.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Christ Above All

It's always a strange juxtaposition for me...being at the beginning of the Christmas season...and yet reading about the end times...and the persecution that will come because of Christ. Maybe it's fitting...a way of keeping everything in perspective. Of course Christmas is a joyful time...a time of thanksgiving...a time of celebration. But always at the edge of the Christmas season...there is a hint of a shadow cast from the Cross. This Baby who was born to save us all...will save us by crucifixion. He must die...so that we can live. And the same is true for us...we must die...die to our selves...die to our flesh...so that we may live.

But the thing that really struck me in today's readings was the Gospel. It seems like Jesus is warning us...that when it all comes down to it...all that we'll have is Him. Ultimately, our loyalty must be to Him above all. Not to family, not to friends. Our love for Him must surpass that of even our parents, our siblings, and even our spouses and children. Of course many people are blessed with spouses who are truly yoked together with them...sharing this gift of Faith in Christ. And thank God for all those whose children have grown up and not departed from the way of Faith taught to them. But the truth is...when push comes to shove...when the world hates you...when death is the cost of belief...we can never be sure how anyone will hold up. I can't imagine the feeling of betrayal that would come with being "handed over" by those you love most in this world. But of course, this is nothing that Jesus Himself did not experience.

And so again we find the theme...of holding everything with our hands open. Everything we have here on Earth can be taken away in a flash. All that lasts...all that is Eternal...we find in and through Christ. He will protect what matters. He will restore all that is lost ten times over. I guess it all comes down to Trust. Do I trust Jesus with everything? I mean really...everything? Am I willing to let go of everything...all that I love and hold dear...all that I value? That's what it comes down to it seems. Do I love Christ...really love Him? Do I trust Him....really trust Him? And do I love and trust Him...above all?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Time to Give

A seemingly simple observation...but a powerful teaching. That is what I see in today's Gospel. I mean it is maybe one of the shortest "lessons" Jesus taught...but as best I can tell...in encompasses the heart of what we are called to as Christians.
...but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood. Luke 21:4
We are all impoverished. Our sin, our selfishness, our pride...they leave us with so very little to offer Christ. We are flawed and wounded and weak...at least we have allowed ourselves to become these things. But even as we are, Christ humbled Himself, suffered and died for our sake....so that we might live. And so now that we are alive...His Spirit calls us to offer our livelihood....our everything. Out of our emotional, physical, and spiritual poverty...we are to give to God everything that we are. The good and the bad....knowing that none of it is worthy of Him...but trusting that He can transform it. This humble widow...whose name we don't ever learn...provides a moving, humbling example for us to follow. Whatever we have...however poor it may seem...we need to give it to God. I don't have any excuse to hold on to any of it. Whatever good I have is only through Him...and everything else is the result of my own weakness, but it has been redeemed by Him. So I must give it all to Him....I must not withhold anything. Whatever time I have....not just my extra time...it is His. Whatever energy I have...not just leftover energy from my week...it is His. Whatever resources I have...not just the stuff I don't use any more anyway...they are His. It's really as simple as that. That is our call. That is my call. So what am I waiting for? It's time to give.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It's not what you see...

I have no doubt there are a million things God can teach me from the Book of Revelation...and perhaps a million from today's reading about the two witnesses . But one of the "lessons" that I walk away with...is that it ain't over until it's over. We see in this excerpt from the last days....it looks as though Evil has won...and by all appearances they had. These brave, powerful servants of God (the two witnesses) were defeated by the Beast...by Satan...and beaten publicly....seemingly convincingly. Then as if that wasn't enough to shrink the hope of believers....the Evil ones gloated...for three days.
Now if I am a believer in that time...if I am on the side of Good...I have to be feeling defeated...hopeless. The whole world literally seems to be falling apart before our eyes. We've been living through the Great Tribulation...Evil seems to be unstoppable. Pain after pain, injury after injury, loss after loss...and then...finally...two Champions emerge.

These two witnesses...these two servants of God have power that surpasses anything the evil ones can muster. And so we breathe a sigh of relief and allow ourselves to think...finally...our heroes...finally....Good....finally we will win. But then...then the unthinkable happens. Satan mounts an attack...and he defeats these Champions of Good. He strikes them down...and not only gloats...but displays their beaten bodies for the whole world to see. They even celebrate...and give gifts! How could anyone not start to ask...why did God send us these Champions only to have them defeated? I mean how much worse could things appear. We've suffered loss upon loss....defeat upon defeat...all appears dark. And even though we believe...and even though in our minds we know we can trust God, even though we have heard the stories of His great miracles, and even though we have seen miraculous things in our own lives...this...this seems almost too much. Our hope hangs by a thread. It stands at the precipice of Doubt. Heck, we may even be angry with God. Why is He not protecting us? Why is He letting us suffer like this? Why doesn't He just end this? Even if we still believe God wins eventually...we might still be bitter about the now...and our Faith in the moment might still waiver. Sure...eventually God ultimately wins....but however you look at it...our Faith would be shaken...at least I fear mine would be.
But then...just when we felt the last bit of Hope starting to slip away...God moves...and He moves Big. He responds so powerfully...so incredibly...so beyond our expectations. Our dead Champions...He raises them. He brings them back to life. We knew He could do it...but we never believed He actually would. Satan didn't defeat God's witnesses...no matter what it looked like. He didn't win. It was all part of God's plan. Satan was never in control...despite how it looked. The victory....our victory...God's victory was never in doubt. Not only did God have the ultimate victory...but He had the victory in that moment. We couldn't see it...but it was there. And that victory...that battle...strengthened us...to endure the next. God will not abandon us...He will not forsake us. God is Faithful...God is True...and we are His children. I am His child. And I can believe...always...in any situation. Sometimes...actually often...it is not what we see...but Who we see. Father, help me to keep my eyes on You!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Enough ain't enough

Sometimes I try to do as much as I can for Christ...so long as it doesn't inconvenience me. I am willing to donate and tithe...but I don't give so much that I have to do without something. I will help and volunteer...but only if they ask me. I will reach out and minister to those in need...but I don't want to feel uncomfortable. I will pray and lift up my brother and sisters...but if I've already been praying a while and I have stuff I "need" to get started on, I'll catch them next time. And to these bouts of lethargy or complacency or minimalism, my Savior says:
I know your works,
that you have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
Be watchful and strengthen what is left, which is going to die,
for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Revelations 3:2-3
To my ears, this is equivalent to the admonishment directed at the villian in A Knight's Tale (which is an excellent movie by the way):
You have been weighed.
You have been measured.
And you have absolutely...
Been found wanting.
And of course He is right. If I do "just enough" then I am falling short of not only what God wants me to do for others...but also of what God wants to do for me. If I don't actively pursue all the opportunities God has for me...then I am missing out. I can't disrupt God's plan by my disobedience. Someone else will donate, someone else will volunteer, someone else will minister, and someone else will pray. But I will miss out...I will be less.
Actually, Matthew West conveys all this far more powerfully than I can in his song The Motions.
This might hurt, it's not safe But I know that I've gotta make a change I don't care if I break, At least I'll be feeling something' Cause just okay is not enough Help me fight through the nothingness of life

I don't wanna go through the motions I don't wanna go one more day without Your all consuming passion inside of me I don't wanna spend my whole life asking,"What if I had given everything, instead of going through the motions?"
So that's it. I have to make a change. I have to strengthen what is left. I have to live this next moment, this next opportunity differently. When I feel worn down...when I feel tired...when selfishness starts to rear its ugly head in the middle of serving Christ...I have to keep going...keep pushing...and remember, I am not my own. I was bought at a price. And I am God's servant. He supplies me all that I need...and will not ask more of me than He empowers me to do. So next time, whether its giving, or serving, or ministering, or praying...I can't do just enough...I need to do more than enough...because enough simply ain't enough.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Like Crazy

Not quite two months ago, I completed my Cursillo weekend. Though I went reluctantly, I left inspired. I was inspired to do more for Christ. I was inspired to share with others my now fuller understanding of God's love for each one of us. I was inspired by the men surrounding me that weekend to be more of the man God created me to be. My Cursillo weekend was no doubt a "mountain top" experience.
Unfortunately (or at least so it seems), like all mountain top experiences, I had to come down off the mountain. Very few if any of us can actually live on the mountain of these powerful encounters with Christ...and I am not sure we are supposed to. Our faith needs to be tested...and strengthened...if it is to survive...if it is to carry us to Eternity. And as anyone who has had such an experience knows...it is easy to believe on the mountain.
And so here I am...nearly eight weeks into my 4th day (as the Cursillo movement refers to it)...and I can feel the world creeping back in...slipping between all that I learned and realized on that incredible weekend...and pushing it a bit farther away from my mind. I am finding all my radically ideas and "crazy" promises to God about my life are becoming more practical...more "realistic." I am realizing I can't really do "that" and maybe "this" isn't really what God was calling me to do. In other words...I'm losing my nerve. Like a steady dose of Novocaine, the world...and every day life...is dulling the fire and passion and inspiration I brought back with me from my Cursillo weekend. But thank God...I read today's Scripture readings.
Yet I hold this against you:
you have lost the love you had at first.
Realize how far you have fallen.
Repent, and do the works you did at first. (Revelation 2:4-5)
That's what is happening...I am losing the love...the inspiration...the passion...I had at first after my retreat. And maybe I'm not losing it so much...as Satan is trying to steal it (John 10:10). Either way, I need to wake up and remember. I need to remind myself of the certainty of my weekend experience. When the world was held away, I could hear God so much better. That only makes sense. And so why should I doubt what I heard? Why should I question the decisions I made? Yes...they may not seem uncomfortable...or impractical...now that I am face-to-face with the world again. But that's the point right? Jesus came to transform...to transform us...to transform me...and to transform the world. That can't happen if we all stay the same...in the same patterns...with the same "concerns" and preoccupations about what the world will think of me.
There's this fantastic country song, Love Like Crazy, that I think captures the heart of what I feel God is saying to me. While certainly a love song, the underlying message is that when you think about it...love is crazy. It's such a radical idea...to deliberately and completely pour yourself out for someone else...to sacrifice your own wants and desires for someone else. But that's what love is...that is how it survives...and grows...and flourishes. So no wonder the things God asks of us on our mountain top experiences...on our retreats...and in our God moments...sounds so crazy when we come back down...this world needs that kind of crazy. Many thought Jesus was crazy. He continually pushed the acceptable beliefs people held until they became radical, life-changing beliefs. And the world will never be the same.
So I get it...I hear you, God. I need to hold on to those truths you showed me. I need to rekindle the passion you set aflame in me. I need to recall the conviction you stirred in me. And as the song says...I need to "never let your praying knees get lazy." But most of all...I need to not be afraid to follow You...to love You...to love You like crazy!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Burn the Ships

There was a time when I was very interested in "the end times." It was around when the "Left Behind" series first came out. I remember getting caught up in these books. It was very exciting to think about...the final cosmic battle of Good versus evil. But I also read other interpretations and ideas about what many Christians refer to as the Rapture or the Return of Christ, and I realized that perhaps the Bible isn't quite as explicit as some scholars have come to think about what will (or will not) happen as the world winds down. For me, I walked away from my own investigation deciding not to become too preoccupied with the when and what of Jesus' return. After all, Jesus Himself said no one would know the time (see: Matthew 24:36)...and it seems as though each generation of believers always thinks it is the last...even Paul seemed to think so (see: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31). I decided that if I was living my life the way I should...as best I could...following God...trying to be like His Son...then that was all I needed to do. And then...I read today's Scripture readings.

In today's Gospel, Jesus once again challenges all that I think I know...or all that I know how to think...about something...and He offers a radical alternative. He says,
...and likewise one in the field must not return to what was left behind." Luke 17:31b
After I read this...and recognized this passage was leaping off the page at me...I saw another perspective. Christ comes to us everyday. Since everyday could be "the day," that makes every day "the day." Christ is right in front of us...always present before us...asking...waiting for us to surrender...to stop fighting...and simply believe with everything we have...to give Him our all...our everything. And when we do...there is no turning back...no holding on to whatever sin...and lifestyle...and pattern we left behind. Just like Peter...when we take our eyes off of Christ before us...we sink (Matthew 14:28-31). I can't ignore the Revelations and the wisdom to be gained from the "end times." I must keep it ever-present...as Christ is ever-present. It should be a continual reminder...a guide...maybe even a push...to stay vigilant and to run the good race.
Anyway, all of this reminded me of a song by Steven Curtis Chapman, Burn the Ships. From the first time I heard it...this song spoke to me. It embodies how I want to live my faith. It talks about not giving yourself a way to go back to your "old life." When you arrive in the new world...your new...or renewed...faith in Christ...you burn the ships...your only way back. You commit to it 100%. It's all or nothing...because Jesus asks for our all. My faith can't be half way...or lukewarm...or in between. I have to give Him everything...without regret...without hesitation. When I fail to do that, I am denying Him and calling Him a liar...because I don't believe Him and don't trust His promises to love and prosper me.
So what does this have to do with the end times? Well...maybe nothing. Perhaps these are all just my ramblings. But for me...I guess I look at all the time and energy spent trying to figure out when Christ is coming back...when and what the Rapture will be...and it seems to me that all that time and energy should be spent living for God now...in this moment. It's not like if we knew when Christ was coming that we would have any less formidable a task...to live a life of holiness...as Christ is holy. But when that moment comes...we should be free to look ahead...with no struggle or strain to look back. We should have already committed ourselves so completely...that no matter what happens...our "fate" was sealed long ago. Christ purchased us with His blood...and so we should sell ourselves out completely to God. We burned our ships...maybe one at a time...maybe one a day...and maybe we are still burning them...but regardless...there can be no turning back. My prayer is that when that day comes...either Christ's return...or my going Home...I pray that I am able to step out and walk to Christ on the water of Eternity. How else could I get to Him...after all...all my ships are burned.

Peace in Him.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mass in Me

Today's readings peal back the curtain and reveal glimpses of three of God's "homes" -- His heavenly home (the City of God), His earthly home (the Temple in Jerusalem), and His most humble home (Us). I have to admit, the most challenging one for me is the latter. It's hard to get my head around the concept that our bodies are a temple...a holy place. And they are holy not because of what we do...because of how "good" we are...but because we are covered with God's fingerprints. We are His creation...and more than that...God chooses to dwell in us. That is why we are holy temples. We don't bring holiness to ourselves. In fact, it is closer to reality to say that our life is holy despite ourselves.

But the idea that there is literally something...SomeOne in me....besides myself...it's just strange to think about. We can't "feel" Him the way we can feel the outline of our ribs or the way we can feel the beat of our heart. But He is nonetheless there. And I believe we can hear Him...though it takes practice.

And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before Jehovah. And, behold, Jehovah passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before Jehovah; but Jehovah was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but Jehovah was not in the earthquake: and after the earthquake a fire; but Jehovah was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 1 Kings 19: 11-12

I think this is one of the things God is teaching me now...how to better hear him. I feel like He is showing me how to distinguish His voice...His thoughts...from the cacophony of my own thoughts. And as best I can tell just now...it is that still small voice. It is persistent...and true...but it doesn't clammer for attention. Yet when I focus on it...I know it is different from my own thoughts. It is holy.

And when I think still further about all of this...about God speaking to me...in me...and I really dwell on the idea that God is here...with me...all the time...in me...I can't help but think that I should be different. I mean since He is here...since perfection is ever present to me...since holiness is forever surrounding me... shouldn't that change things radically in my life? If I carry the King of the Universe...the source of all that is Good, and True, and Pure...with me everywhere I go...whether in darkness or light....shouldn't my life be different? If I think about it, whatever I eat or drink...whatever I watch...whatever activity I engage in...I am engaging God in all of that with me. Maybe I need to think more about what I put into my body. Of course this reality...of God being in us...is more than a supernatural Nike tagline suppose to motivate us to stay healthy and fit.

This is about intimacy with our Creator. It's about recognizing that this life we have been given is Holy...and I should strive to live a life that lets that Holiness burst through. I shouldn't just be alive...I should live. And I should live with a passion that honors God's Creation. In a way, I feel like I should be celebrating Mass each day through my life. With all my thoughts, words, and deeds I should be praising God, proclaiming His Word to others, sacrificing my flesh...my self, imploring His Will be done, humbling myself in His presence, and going forth always looking to love and serve. We celebrate Mass each week in God's brick and mortar homes here on Earth...shouldn't I be celebrating it all the more every day in His temple...in me?

Monday, November 8, 2010

More than Enough

More. I feel like I am always asking God for more. Not more material blessings...because (thank God) I can at least appreciate how incredibly generous He is to me. No...when I ask for more I'm always asking for something to make me better...something to improve me or my faith. I pray for more strength, or more patience, or more direction. I pray for more wisdom, for greater understanding, for a faster transformation. I ask God to make me a better husband, a better father, a better employee. And I do all this genuinely...wanting so desperately to be the man God created me to be...and knowing I have so far to go. I long to be useful to Him, and so I am constantly wanting more help overcoming all my flaws. But then I read today's Gospel.
Here are the disciples...blessed with knowing our savior in the flesh. They get to eat with Him, joke with Him, walk with Him, even touch Him. And while I realize none of these men started as Saints, I can't help but believe if I got to actually know Jesus in that way...my faith would be through the roof. I would be unstoppable for God. Yet here they are wanting Jesus to increase their faith...asking for more. Are they kidding? What more could they expect Jesus to do?
But as always, Jesus sees through their question (as He does our's)...and instead of answering what we thought we were asking, He addresses the true heart of the matter.
The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you would say to this mulberry tree,
‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’
and it would obey you.” Luke 17:6
When I read this, I imagine Jesus' response to my own requests for more. "You are right to desire Faith...to want to continue to be transformed into My likeness. But rather than ask me for more, why not ask yourself what are you doing with what I have already given you?" Isn't that what He is saying? The disciples ask for more faith, and Jesus explains how even the tiniest amount of Faith is sufficient. The disciples didn't see what they already have as enough...just as I don't see the strength I have already been given (or the patience or the widsom or the...) as enough. But it must be...because Jesus says it is. In this passage of Scripture I believe He is telling us that if only we truly believed in what we've come to understand thus far...if only we fully acted on the Truth He has revealed to us up to this point...if only we did more with what He has already provided...then we'd realize, we don't need more. He has given us enough. He has given us all that we need. We have Him...we have the Holy Spirit...we have the Saints...we have our Holy Mother...and we have His strength...His wisdom...His Love. He is not going to do the work for us. It is our cross...we have to carry it. But He'll give us the strength to lift it, the wisdom to accept it, the patience to endure it. In fact He already has...that's the point. We just need to use what He has given us. We need to step out in faith...knowing we have enough to accomplish all things through Him. In fact...we not only have enough...we have more than enough.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Man (and God) at Work

I have always liked the concept of "working out your salvation." Don't get me wrong. I like the idea of "once saved always saved." Having made an adult proclamation of faith, both through Confirmation and through Baptism, it would certainly be a relief if I knew with certainty that I am secure...that I have locked up my eternal destination...and so I have nothing left I have to do...no other expectations. But that just doesn't jive with my own heart...and how I understand the concept of free will.

As C.S. Lewis says, each decision we make...each and every moment of each and every day...moves us either a step closer to becoming a heavenly creature, or a hellish one. Our destinies are not literally determined in a single moment (though certainly there are pivotal decisions in ones life that seem to shape everything from that point forward). But just as easily as someone chooses to follow Christ they can sadly choose to abandon Him. And I know for me...the back and forth seems to happen almost daily. One moment I am focused and determined and filled with God's presence in and around my life...and the next I am in the middle of sin...deliberately having chosen to be there.

And so each day...each moment...I am trying to work out my salvation...trying to live out my faith...fighting to let go of more and more in my life...and cling ever more tightly to Christ. And so I believe, that despite the questioning and grumbling that I do, ultimately God is working in me, making me into a light that can pierce through and shine in this crooked and perverse world. As Jesus says...I need to pick up my cross each day...and pick it up whenever I fall...and carry it. Otherwise I am no disciple at all. And if I was no disciple at all (instead of a flawed one)...then all my work...all God's work...would be in vain. And I am simply refuse to let that happen.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Wisdom of Hope

What an incredible set of readings today. This is our hope! This is what our faith is about. As Paul says in one of his letters, it all comes down to this. If Christ did not die for our sins, if He did not rise from the dead....then our faith is in vain...and we are fools. Thank God then for His Son...The Way, The Truth, and The Life.

In today's reading from Wisdom, we have beautifully detailed the truth and meaning of our trials here. But more than that, we have the promise...the utter factuality of our immortality...of our reward...of our forever. As it says...those who die with Christ appear to the foolish to be dead indeed. Their death appears sad or tragic. But it is not so. Those who die in Christ are at peace. And more than that:
In the time of their visitation they shall shine,
and shall dart about as sparks through stubble;
they shall judge nations and rule over peoples,
and the Lord shall be their King forever.
Those who trust in him shall understand truth,
and the faithful shall abide with him in love:
because grace and mercy are with his holy ones,
and his care is with his elect. Wisdom 3:7-9
We will dart about as sparks...bursting with life and light. All because God is Good and Faithful.

You know I have to admit that I get a little negative twinge when it comes to Psalm 23. I imagine that's because it is so continually associated with death and funerals. But as I read it again today...the Hope within it just pops off the page. My Father leads me, He gives me rest, He refreshes me, He encourages me, and because of Him I have nothing to fear...nothing. On top of that...goodness and kindness follow me...ALL of my days. I don't need to wait for "the other shoe to drop." I don't need to fear the end of all the joy and goodness in my life that I know I don't deserve. They will follow me...all of my days. That's His promise. What more could I ask for...what more could I ever hope to want?

As Paul writes in today's passage from Romans, Hope does not disappoint. We have the Love of God within us. And as Christ Himself says in the Gospel...He will not lose even one of us. He came for us. He came to save us...to bring us back to Our Father...to restore us to the paradise He always desired us to know. And so while death is a part of this life...a part that we added...another perversion that we introduced...it too has been redeemed and transformed. What once seemed like the end (and sadly still does for so many), is really now just a transition. Christ came that we might have eternal life. It is ours...it is mine...if only I believe...I follow...I love. That is what I believe. That is my hope.

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Measure of Faith

I had a little revelation this weekend. If I want to know where I stand in terms of my walk with God...in terms of my faith, I just need to ask myself...what do I withhold from Him? What do I cling to....and squeeze hold of tighter when I feel as though it might be taken away? The less I can name, the deeper my faith...the stronger my commitment. As I considered this, it brought to mind the story of Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19). God tested Abraham, asking for his son...his only son. And not just asking for Abraham to give him up...but to kill him. That's a serious test.

And here I am...failing the test over and over....and all God asks for is my time (time spent being patient with the older lady driving in front of me), my money (giving that $5 to the homeless man begging on the corner instead of having that hamburger I had been looking forward to all morning), my energy (helping my wife fold the laundry instead of watching the last quarter of the big game), my prayers (lifting up this person struggling with cancer or the other person struggling with depression instead of asking only for strength for myself)...

Why do I cling so tightly? It is all His after all. Whatever I have, it is only because He has given it. That I have come to cherish my time, my money, my energy, etc. is only because He has allowed me to experience and control these things. One word and they could all disappear. And if I knew that...and really believed that...then wouldn't it change how I approach these things? Shouldn't it?

Father, please take my time...I return it to you. Whatever You would have me do today...make it happen. Let me accept every delay, every interruption, every intrusion into my agenda...into my schedule...as a divine appointment. Let me seek You in each moment...knowing You are there...knowing you brought me to that moment for a reason.

Father, please take my money...I return it to you. Whatever you would have me "spend" it on...to whomever you want me to give it...make it happen. Let me be content with what I have, and not seek something bigger or better or cooler. Open my eyes to the need You see and show me how to help. Let me recognize that each dollar I spend is Your dollar, and that You will want an account of how I spent it....and then remind me of how difficult it will be to be faced with hunger and homelessness and justify why I needed that new suit.

Father, please take my energy...I return it to you. Whatever you would have me apply myself to...make it happen. Remove the sense of urgency I create by stacking up this list of things I "have" to do. Give me clarity to recognize what must be done...on Your list. Push me out of my complacency and laziness. Kindle in me a fire for Your work, a passion for Your will. Fill me with eagerness for Your projects...not mine.

Father, I want to give You everything...even though I don't know what that will require of me. Help me to not withhold anything from you: Not my agenda, not my desires, not my toys, not my job, not my life...and not the life of my loved ones. Change me, Father, so that whatever You ask...whatever You require...I will obey...I will let go. This is my heart's cry, Father...that You would measure me, and find that I am not wanting for anything...but more of you.