Daily Prayer :: Water

Encouragement for a lifelong journey of faith

June 18 — Risk

This week we’re going to consider the idea of “going all in” for Christ and what that might look like for us. We’ll come at it from a few different angles — some small, some big — read some scripture, and try to think about it practically and sustainably.

Today’s Bible Reading 

“For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.”

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭3:17‬ ‭

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name.

‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:12-16 ‭

More Thoughts For Meditation 

In our scripture reading today we’re faced with an uncomfortable reality of suffering: that even though we do good we will still suffer.

Maybe you have an expectation that once you begin to follow Jesus and do good you’re suffering will decrease or stop entirely. That doesn’t really seem to be the case.

Peter is pretty realistic here. I think he’s saying something like: “You’re going to experience suffering no matter what. There’s no way around it. But Jesus is trustworthy. So much so that it would be way better to suffer for and with him than to suffer pointlessly for worldly desires.”

Now, this is not an excuse to ignore suffering in our own lives or in the lives of others, or to chalk it up to “that’s just how the cookie crumbles.” That is bad theology which is no good for the world. Peter is going for something much better and deeper. He seems to be touching on our fear of suffering, the fear that leads us to avoid it, the fear we might have of taking a risk which could lead to pointless suffering.

Some people take risks. If you’re one of those people you might hear someone say you are bold, fearless, or even reckless. That actually sounds a little bit like Peter. We need those people and may God bless them, but not everyone is built that way. Maybe you prefer to avoid risk, or minimize making “risky decisions”.  Maybe the idea of doing something risky is fraught with the potential for suffering.

It’s a risk to follow Jesus. It’s also a risk not to follow Jesus. If you look at it that way you might even be able to conclude that everything is a risk, even avoiding taking a risk. Everything has its consequences and you be going to suffer consequences either way.

It’s probably more complicated than that, we don’t want to be people who are constantly making bad decisions but Peter’s words might be able to give us some spiritual wherewithal to move through the fear and endure suffering. It might even be an aspect of leading a life that is “all in” for Christ. It could lead you to say something like: “Everything is a risk. Jesus seems trustworthy. I’m going to risk following him and suffer the consequences.”

Peter might call you blessed when you suffer those consequences. He might also remind you that Christ is with you in your suffering.

Suggestions For Action 

Are you suffering consequences because you took a risk to follow Jesus? Are you struggling to go deeper with Jesus? Are you feeling stale and dry? Does it all seem too risky? Spend some time resting with the Lord in prayer today. Do not be ashamed of where you are but instead let the Spirit of glory and of God rest upon you. Receive the blessing God promises and listen for what that good Spirit might be saying.

June 17 — Going All In

This week we’re going to consider the idea of “going all in” for Christ and what that might look like for us. We’ll come at it from a few different angles — some small, some big — read some scripture, and try to think about it practically and sustainable.

Today’s Bible Reading 

“Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.””

‭‭Matthew‬ ‭8:21-22‬ ‭

More Thoughts For Meditation 

In today’s scripture reading we find a difficult teaching from Jesus. These are hard words. It’s almost impossible to imagine asking someone to skip the funeral of a loved one to follow you. But here it seems we have Jesus saying that very thing.

Jesus’s particular choice of words in this passage are often debated and their is a larger context going on, but we’re not looking to solve all that today. The big idea seems to involve “going all in”.

“Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their dead.” Not much wiggle room there. He might be saying something like: “This is really important. You should drop everything you’re doing and follow me. Everything. Trust me, it will be worth it.”

Earlier in the Gospel of Matthew (chapter 4:21-22) we find a similar scene. Jesus encounters 2 of his soon-to-be disciples James and John who are with their father repairing their fishing nets. This would’ve been important work for them, their livelihood depended on those nets. The passage says that Jesus called them and they “immediately left their boat and their father and followed him.” They left their boat AND their father. What a great detail to include. Can you imagine doing that? Here again we come to this idea of going all in. Credit to James and John for hearing the call. It makes you wonder how many others Jesus called who didn’t respond like James and John.

These are drastic examples. Some of us have left everything to follow Jesus (and what a blessing you are!), but that’s not everyone’s story. Does going all in always involve some drastic moment of wild abandon? No, not always, but maybe it involves a thousand little drastic moments that add up to a transformed life. That seems to be the expectation, that if you start to follow Jesus, if you leave the dead to bury their dead, or you leave your boat and your father, you’ll never be the same. “Trust me, it will be worth it.”

Suggestions For Action 

What comes to mind when you hear the words “Going all in for Christ”? Are you excited? Are you anxious? Are you refreshed? Are you rolling your eyes? Spend some time today thinking about what you think it means to be “all in” for something. Maybe a friend or relative or Saint comes to mind. Is there anything in your life you’d say you’re all in for? What is it? Why would you say you’re all in for it? What does a life that is “all in” for something look like?

June 16 – Power by Purpose

This we are engaging with Janet Hagberg’s book Real Power. Hagberg’s model might interest you as a way to interpret the world; it might offer a tool to interpret your own development or your interactions with others. Listen to the Spirit as she loves you even as you are today. For context/introduction see the entry for June 10.

Today’s Bible Reading

Read Matthew 20:20-28

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

More Thoughts for Meditation

Stage Five – Power by Purpose

“Stage Five is unlike all of the preceding stages. Its uniqueness likes in the strength of the inner person relative to the strength of the organizational hold on that person. The guide for behavior in Fives is their inner voice. They trust it more than they trust the rules. Stage Five people are different internally and externally now. They are more congruent because they no longer have to live two separate lives as Stage Fours do….

“Fives have a life ‘calling’ that extends beyond them. This has resulted from a deep, inner churning; a long, slow, or painful evolution in which the old rules have dropped away temporarily and old allegiances, ideas, and people have been reevaluated. These people have encountered themselves head on. They have hit the wall. They have engaged intimately with their Higher Power. They are letting go. They have glimpsed wisdom. And they are finding their inner truth, a life calling, and a moral imperative that goes beyond them. …

“Stage Five people are courageous. They have faced, and continue to face, their fears so they can act in spite of fear. They take risks, tell the truth to the organization, seek compassion, and love mercy. They do this despite the consequences. To be at home at Stage Five means giving away power and leading from behind, as a servant of the group. It is letting go of the written or organizational rules and living with a sense of inner compassion and order. It is learning to strive for others or more often for principles. Above all it is not ego oriented. That is way Stage Fives are called the irregulars in organizations. This is the reason they are so easily misunderstood. No one knows what their agenda is because they don’t have an agenda….

“Stage Five people believe that power multiplies infinitely. The more power you can give away, the better. Power is like love: You can’t have it truly until you give it away or let it go, and the more of it you give unselfishly, the more it multiplies. Fives know that love or power given away comes back full circle but not in the same form in which it was given. They do not attempt to gain or accumulate power because they find the other forms in which it reappears, like caring, appreciation, and friendship, more rewarding.”

Real Power, Janet Hagberg, pp145-146

Suggestions for Action

Can we release our ego involvement without intimacy with God?

If you find it possible – find a calm place – close your eyes – present something that is troubling you to God. Still your mind, listen for God’s reaction. God might draw near in your imagination – you might receive a mental image of God caring for you, or leading you, or being present with you.

If you can’t practice this now:

  1. Can you make a date to do this later? Maybe you need a calendar appointment to meet with God.
  2. Practice the graciousness God feels for you in your approach to your schedule. Appreciate God’s care for you amidst your business.

Pray – God, help me face the range of my fears, and develop my inner voice. Allow me to release myself from the “rules” I imagine bind me – and enjoy intimacy with you. As you have given me your love and your authority, help me receive them, and help me pass them on.

 

June 15 – The Wall

This we are engaging with Janet Hagberg’s book Real Power. Hagberg’s model might interest you as a way to interpret the world; it might offer a tool to interpret your own development or your interactions with others. Listen to the Spirit as she loves you even as you are today. For context/introduction see the entry for June 10.

Today’s Bible Reading

Read 2 Samuel 12:1-25

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”

More Thoughts for Meditation

The Wall – a stopping place between stages Four and Five

“There are things to overcome in moving from each of the stages to the next stage but the Wall is the place where the accumulation of things we have hidden from the world, or thought we had hidden, come out to haunt us. At the Wall we cannot move forward without embracing our own personal shadow behavior, behavior that we don’t want to look at but can’t seem to avoid any more. The Wall is the place where our shadow becomes clear and we make a decision whether or not we will deal with it.

“In the Wall we face our controlling ego. We think we are still in charge of our lives and the Wall simply invites us – compels us – to let go. At the Wall we have a choice. We can move forward into the Wall and embrace it or we can go back to a more comfortable place. People live very satisfying lives even if they never go through the Wall. But going through it and learning the wisdom is has to teach us is life-changing. However I would not describe the Wall as inviting. It looks frightening at best, to look at all the things we have swept under the rug for so long. Many of us come to the Wall over and over again and keep feeling the discomfort of its presence in our lives. The decision to move into the Wall requires courage, for in the Wall we face our darkest selves, our shadows.

“So what happens in the wall? It is unique to each person but there are some general experiences people share. … It consists of letting go of your ego, giving up control, moving beyond your intellect, becoming intimate with a higher power, embracing your whole self with all its shadows, and facing your core with its darkness and light.”

“The Wall is a place of transformation. … The Wall is a place of tremendous loss and tremendous gain. It is exhilarating and it is painful. It is never easy. The Wall is the place where we face our inner selves, the truth of who we are, our shame, and ultimately our heart’s deepest desires. We embrace all of this and learn to accept it. … What brings us to the Wall? Loss of meaning, desire for more depth, death, depression, abuse, a call to wholeness, failure, loss of relationship, illness, or soul searching. … What helps us through the Wall? We need to face our fear and develop courage. It is helpful to experience the wall with the help of a trained professional who is not frightened by what you are experiencing.”

“The Wall brings us in contact with our shadows and then asks us not to rid ourselves of them. In fact, we are asked to embrace our shadows. That does not mean we act out all those despicable characteristics, but each time shadow behavior arises within us we ask what the behavior is trying to teach us, or we take the behavior as a signal to do something.”

Real Power, Janet Hagberg, pp125-131

Suggestions for Action

Janet Hagberg asks this question in the chapter – what one quality in you will be dangerous to other people if you are not fully conscious of it?

If we agree with her, we wouldn’t expect a realization of this to come overnight! Let the question stew – see if anything new comes from God.

If you can dedicate 15 minutes – take some time to diary on this.

If not – let God remind you of his care and protection for you among your limits.

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