Monthly Archives: March 2017

It Is What It Is

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By Judy Villanueva

“If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:31-32)

“An embrace of reality always supports the life of both spirit and soul. Both thrive in the soil of acceptance of that which truly is and shrivel when we wander from a commitment to such truthful living.” (Benner, Soulful Spirituality)

The smell of fudgy goodness filled the kitchen as dad stirred mom’s birthday surprise and I scrutinized the candy thermometer.   I was in town for a visit and while mom ran a few errands I got to hang out with my dad.  I noticed that his hearing seemed to have worsened and, at 88, the onset of dementia continues to interfere with his memory.  These changes feel sad at times, but as we talked and taste-tested chocolate, I also recognized my dad’s sense of humor and the joy he feels being together in the present moment.  While I miss being able to talk like we use to, it helped to focus on what is still good and be grateful. I am thankful that my father still knows me, and glad that, despite his memory loss, he remains loving, kind, and content.

My family has a saying that we’ve borrowed and say often. “It is what it is.”  When we say this to one another, we are actually inviting ourselves to know and accept reality.

To know what it IS” helps us get to the harder step of making peace with whatever “it is NOT.”

This peace-making  is necessary if we are to bring our real lives to God and receive His grace and strength to move forward.

In other words, when we stop resisting reality we can start becoming  constructive agents, free to cultivate love and gratitude in the “what is” of the present moment.

Sometimes this means accepting that the people we love have the right to choose their own way even when it breaks our hearts, or making peace with changes in life that we didn’t sign up for (or want).  Living “real” also means coming to terms with our disappointments and surrendering in faith to the life that is ours.   How do we let go of what we wish were true in favor of being held by the Truth that came to set us free?

Oh how we need the reality of Jesus to bear down on our lives with truest Love!

God redeems our past and holds our future but, it is in the present moment that He wants to be our Defining Reality.  The “It is what it is” of life can be hard on the heart sometimes but invites us to turn to God who always was and always will be who He is — faithful and full of love —  the Great I AM and the Truth that keeps setting us free.

“Father, it is hard to know and accept reality sometimes, especially when good things change or when I can’t understand the why of things.   Give me courage to accept what is and trust that you are always faithful.  Become my defining reality.  Amen.”

What about you?

Is God part of your daily and defining reality?  What might that look like?

Are you freed by His love to know what is true of your life, past and present?

How are you doing in accepting the realities of your life?  It can be hard  but pretending can only offer a temporary peace.

God is who He is always and wants to be your defining reality.

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Worship

Thresholds

IMG_5313_2By Judy Villanueva

I stand at the door and knock. Whoever hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to him and will dine with Him and he with me. (Rev. 3:20)

A man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he had already been a long time in that condition, He said to him, “Do you wish to get well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up, but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Get up, pick up your pallet and walk.” (John 5:5-8)

I hate surprises. I read the end of books first and fast forward movies to relieve the pressure of not knowing what will happen next.  I have a picture of me standing at the threshold of a patio full of friends who had gathered to surprise me on my 30th birthday.  As I approached the doorway I could hear excited whispers and immediately clued in to what was coming. If I’d had time to think about it I might have turned around but momentum pushed me forward and through the threshold!   There, I was welcomed by the joy of people who loved me. I remember lots of doorways over the years, some happy and some sad, — some I ran through and others I felt dragged through.  Each one invited me to enter, even though I never knew quite what would happen next. “Come live life with Me!” Jesus keeps saying. “I am knocking. Open the door. Let’s eat!”

Thresholds.  They are doorways of invitation or at least, that is the way I have come to view them.  We relate most readily to the ones that physically, emotionally or relationally initiate change in our lives like getting married, having a baby, starting a new job, losing a loved one, or becoming ill.  But, are you also aware of the spiritual thresholds that exist all throughout our lives?

These relate to the work of the Spirit in us and, if we learn to listen to the inner urgings of our souls, we discover brilliant and beautiful invitations to be formed by the hand of God.

Really! Jesus stands at these entrances and knocks. We become aware of the knocking when and as we clue in to our own internal life. Curiosities, yearnings, distinct observations while reading the Word or worshipping — a lack of peace, a sense of being awakened to a Voice that says, “Come!”  Listen and follow His voice.  It’s not necessary that we know what will happen next, only that we will find Jesus waiting for us with a table prepared, mud for our eyes, and fish for our tummies!

Something in me identifies this morning with the man by the pool who feels helpless to get into the healing water. Tears burn in my eyes as I read that “Jesus saw him lying there” and knew “his condition”.  My heart aches as I listen to the man tell Jesus that no one will help him get into the pool and suddenly, I hear knocking!  I become aware of my own soul wound that relates to feeling invisible sometimes and find myself standing at a threshold.  I have a sense of what’s beyond because I have read the end of this story!  So, I lean forward to peer in and see Jesus seeing me and asking, “Do you wish to get well?”

It is an invitation to wholeness that is irresistible and while I cannot know what exactly will happen next, I know by now that Jesus always calls me toward life!

“Get up!” There is power in His voice and healing in His eyes and before I know it, I am upright, embraced and walking — welcomed with joy by Jesus who is ever faithful to form holiness in me and heal my life with love .

“What a gift it is that you always see me and know me, Jesus. It revives my soul and makes me happy! Thank you for the thresholds in life that invite me to Your heart, heal my wounds, and form my soul. Please help me to hear you knocking. Amen.”

What about you?

Are you aware when you are standing at a threshold, a doorway of invitation to healing and new life?

Can you hear when Jesus knocks? Can you sense your inner life? Your desires curiosities and angst?

Do you want to be well?

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Worship