Monthly Archives: November 2015

Freely Give

DSC_0561By Judy Villanueva

“Freely you have received, freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)

“Yahuwah your God in your midst, the Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His Love, He will dance over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17)

When finally I took a breath, I lifted my eyes and was met by a knowing look on my mother’s face.  She had listened as I recounted a hurtful episode with a friend.  Normally, she would be the first one to encourage bringing conflict into the light but this time her expression told me that I wasn’t going to receive her normal counsel.  She said with care, “I know it hurts and you may want to draw back, but this is a good friend and trust me —- it’s better to go forward, forgive and be happy with whatever your friend can give you.”  I sat quietly letting her words sink in and, there, felt God’s gentle invitation to grace.  That day I chose to forgive and make peace with what the friendship was not, rejoice over what it was, and trust God for a good way forward.

I think my mother discerned that my expectations of my friend, while reasonable, were unrealistic.  The options were to either ask something of my friend that she could not give, withdraw from friendship, or adjust my expectations and trust God to provide.  The result was a floodgate that burst open!  No longer was Love held back by my unforgiving heart and its flow washed over and carried me to a place where grace grows.  I realized that the gift of grace is exactly what I receive from God every single minute of my life. He forgives me, believes in me, and celebrates who I am…even if who I am, is a creature in process, flawed and selfish. 

Here and now is where God loves me! 

Henri Nouwen once spoke of two necessary ingredients to all friendships:  forgiveness and celebration.  If it isn’t every day, then it is often, that we need to forgive and be forgiven by our friends. 

Without an open heart that is willing to share the grace freely received, we grieve the heart of God and sadly, block His flow of Love through our lives.

If we cannot forgive, we cannot celebrate and if we cannot celebrate we cannot join God in His exuberant dance over creation — that’s you and me!  His dance steps are full of grace and the tune that He sings over us is a melody of generous love…freely given!

“Thank you, Father, for the way you look at me!  What would I be without the grace I have received?  Fill me with your love and let it inspire a gracious dance in me.  Amen.”

What about you?

Is there someone in your life that you need to forgive?

Have you tasted the freedom of forgiving? Being forgiven?

Are you expecting things from your friend that they cannot give right now?  

What does it feel like to be celebrated by God and others?  Who are you celebrating?

Have you felt God invite you to grace lately? 

Freely receive the grace that pours over you and trade your grudges for grace.  God invites you to celebrate with Him!

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Held

IMG_4539By Judy Villanueva

O Lord, You have searched me and known me.  You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar.  You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways.  Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Lord, You know it all.  You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. (Psalm 139:1-5)

One of my earliest memories is of being rocked in my father’s arms and soothed by a tune that he used to hum over us kids.  His deep voice made it a rumbly lullaby that I could both feel as well as hear, and it wasn’t long before the humming gave way to sweet dreams.  I remember the feeling of being held and calmed by his voice and, to this day, this little tune quiets me.  It is a melody that I’ve since heard myself hum to calm my children and grandchildren. Being held and “hummed to” created safety all around and inside of me.  “Dad is here.  It’s all going to be ok.  I can rest.”

Is there a more beautiful reality than that our lives are held by God…always?

Our sitting down and rising up, our every thought and word, coming and going, working or lying down, He knows!  He is intimately acquainted with everything about us.  We are seen, known and loved by the God who made us…at all times, in all places, no matter how we feel about it.  How DO you feel about it?  It is an easy idea to cuddle up with when all is well with our world but it can be a most prickly truth to believe in the dark of night.  How, when we are frightened by the night, can we rest in His arms and let the sound of His voice bring us peace?

The fact that we are finite creatures means that we can only  see “in part” and are not able to grasp the entirety of why things happen as they do. There are times when we will not understand our lives…when we simply do not and can not have the same perspective as the God who always sees everything all time, now and forever!

The nature of being held means that it’s not up to us to know everything.

Believe or not, that is good news! What IS up to us is to trust the One who sees and knows what we cannot, and let HIm hold and deliver us into the plans He has for us. Can we lean back into the divine arms that cradle our lives with love, compassion, goodness and purpose? He holds all things together with perfection… even when we cannot perceive it.

“Thank you, Father, for holding my life…always.  To know that you do, consoles me.  To consider that you know me through and through helps me to exhale.  You are here.  It’s all going be ok.  I can rest.  Amen.”

What about you?

Is your heart troubled?  What brings you comfort?

Where/with whom do you experience being known?

Do you need to know today that you are seen, known and loved by the God who made you?

He loves you and is intimately acquainted with all your ways.

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