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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Scripture Reading: Nahum 3:8–13
Are you better than Thebes
     that sat by the Nile,
with water around her,
     her rampart a sea,
     water her wall?
Ethiopia was her strength,
     Egypt too, and that without limit;
     put and the Libyans were her helpers.

Yet she became an exile,
     she went into captivity;
even her infants were dashed in pieces
     at the head of every street;
lots were cast for her nobles,
     all her dignitaries were bound in fetters.
You also will be drunken,
     you will go into hiding;
you will seek
     a refuge from the enemy.
All your fortresses are like fig trees
     with first-ripe figs—
if shaken they fall
     into the mouth of the eater.
Look at your troops:
     they are women in your midst.
The gates of your land
     are wide open to your foes;
     fire has devoured the bars of your gates. (NRSV)

How often am I like Thebes? I think I have it all figured out. I bolster my self-esteem with things I have or that I’ve achieved. I look outwardly to confirm that I’m OK and all is well in my world. But then something happens and I am shaken, internally feeling out of control and wondering, “What do I do, who am I now, and where is God in all of this?”

When I spend time with God—alone and with others—there is comfort, community, and joy. My ability to be with these bigger questions and to make meaning from my experiences increases greatly with God in my life. And yet I often bypass turning to God. At times it feels like I’m signing up for more pain (rather than seeing it as facing the truth), uncertainty (rather than letting go of control), or God’s not solving my problems fast enough for my liking (rather than having faith).

In the practice of mindfulness meditation, when you notice that your mind has wandered, it’s a reminder to bring your attention back to your breathing. It’s also acknowledged that it’s normal for your mind to wander. I want to believe the same principle applies to my faith. To take my observation of turning away from God as an invitation to come back to him without judgment would be so comforting! I strive to remember that with all of my wandering off the straight path, I am still loved and God is always happy to be with me. I’m not fully there yet, and maybe that’s the point. My faith is a journey, something to keep working on with God, missteps and all.

God, you are with me even when I turn away from you. Help me to keep turning back to you and to trust in your love that knows no limits. Amen.

Written by Laura Barrows, Member of Fourth Presbyterian Church

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