You’re likely reading this just before Thanksgiving day (since these come out on Wednesdays). I send along my prayer that God’s Spirit will open your eyes to the countless graces that fill your life. We are certainly thankful for you!
I’m writing this post on a Friday midday on my way home from what has been a very intensive season of ministry. It has been a wonderful opportunity to experiment with being very busy but remaining unhurried. Remember, busy is just about your calendar. Hurried is about your soul. I’m happy to say that there have been a number of fruitfully unhurried moments.
This morning, I was supposed to have caught a very early flight out of Philadelphia and get home about now. Instead, Winter Storm Avery changed those plans. Flights were cancelled, and so I’m happily still on my way home, but it’ll be later today before I finally finish the journey.
Yesterday, I had the treat of leading a luncheon for pastors and Christian leaders a bit north of Philadelphia. One of the things I felt deeply as I shared was that the world around us needs followers of Jesus who embody the peace and the rest of Jesus. This just might be the most important gift of the gospel we can give to a hurried, frantic, frenetic culture. This is a critical priority for Christian leaders.
From November 6-14, I was at the Eastern Point Retreat Center in Gloucester, Massachusetts for an eight-day silent retreat. I only spoke during my every-morning 20-minute spiritual direction appointment and during the daily Eucharist service. It was a very pregnant silence for me.
One of the passages God brought me to was in Isaiah 27:2b-4a:
“Sing about a fruitful vineyard:
I, the Lord, watch over it;
I water it continually.
I guard it day and night
so that no one may harm it.
I am not angry."
It was the last line that surprised me. I’ve thought often about God being very slow to anger. This has been a meaningful description of God for me. But for God to say it even more personally to me, “I am not angry [with you].” It’s not that I think God is furious with me, but I realize I sometimes think he’s at least frustrated or irritated by my shortcomings.
But God’s basic orientation towards us is not anger. It is love. It is grace. It is mercy. He longs to be gracious. He delights to show mercy. God is working for our good with a heart full of reliable care.
- Do you ever respond to God as though he were a bit angry with you?
- What difference might it make if you trusted that, instead, God is not angry?
- How can God’s grace and mercy inform this season of thanksgiving?
- Take a few moments to rest in God’s presence.