Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Settling in

At the start of every new year I select the devotional books I will use on a regular basis for the next three hundred and sixty-five or so days.

This year will include some regulars, such as "Today in the Word", which is published by Moody, "Jesus Calling" by Sarah Young and a book by Richard Rohr entitled "Falling Upward".
Papa made an addition to the list today, "Reflections for Ragamuffins" by Brennan Manning.  Many a year, I have included this one.  It is an all-time favorite of mine, yet I thought maybe I would wait another year to pick it up again.  One can overdo how much is being read and end up on overload, which does not lend itself to setting the stage for much devotional thought!

There are times when I discover that I haven't heard as clearly as I thought.  Papa always clears things up.  :)
As He did today with "Ragamuffins".

It took a few hours for me to actually pull out the book and read Brennan's thoughts for January first, but once I did, it seemed as if I were reading the words that I found there for the first time ever.
Words put there, seemingly, just for me.

I think they are intended for you too, my dear reader.

Here's why.

A number of days ago I had highlighted a few of my journal entries to share here.

It was the day after Christmas and I was feeling unsettled.
A few issues were rumbling around in my head and heart.

My husband's condition was one of those issues.
He does better when he can stick to his routine.  His routine seems to keep him distracted from a degree of the pain he lives with every day.  When it is disrupted, which is usually due to a social situation, then the pain becomes more prominent.
I am finally understanding this dynamic, which I wish I had figured out sooner.

Alongside that I had found myself in a situation that made me uncomfortable, yet I remained in it without speaking up. The conversation was not one that I felt should have been happening in my presence, but I still sat there.
I wasn't being true to who I am, so who else would?

Then there were my sons.  Three were here for Christmas.  Two are very close with one another, the third is out of the loop.  As a mother I want to see all of them enjoying a close relationship with one another.
I tried to help.
Actually, I tried to manipulate.

I wasn't liking myself a whole lot at the moment and wasn't feeling like I was very lovable either.

Our gracious, all-wise God is good at settling us back down and sorting out all the jumble we (I) tend to make in our lives.

How He did this was by reminding me of His love, which is totally unconditional.  This means that it is not contingent upon my behavior.
Though His love is constant, not decreasing, nor increasing at any point He knows there are times when I need it amplified.
He used Sarah Young's words to do this.  So often I read something that seems tailored to my heart alone.
"Absolutely nothing in heaven or on earth can cause me to stop loving you."
"When you are dissatisfied with your behavior, you tend to feel unworthy of My Love."
Then I was directed to His Words in First John,
"And we have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us."
Then Papa drew me closer with these words found in Deuteronomy,
"The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms."
 I settled down in those arms!

You would think that I would stay settled for a good long time, but not so.

Today held a to do list that had many items that needed to be checked off. We are traveling to West Virginia tomorrow, which means extra details to tend.  I also, had plans to have lunch with a special young woman and did not want to miss it.  It made for a jam packed day.
As the day unfolded, I grew weary and, as I have said before, being tired doesn't lend itself to positive thoughts and attitudes!

Enter Mr. Manning.

He opens the year with these words,
"God's love is based on nothing, and the fact that it is based on nothing makes us secure.  Were it based on anything we do, and that "anything" were to collapse, then God's love would crumble as well."
He speaks of weary Atlases who need to put the world down and dance on it instead of trying to carry it.
He closes his thoughts with a paraphrase of the verse found in Matthew Eleven that first brought me to Jesus.
"Come to Me, all you Atlases who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you."

Then he closes with verse Three of Jeremiah Thirty-One,
"The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying, "I have loved you with an everlasting love, I have drawn you with loving kindness.'"
Why don't we all just settle into that everlasting love.
His Arms are wide open!

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