A Heart “Cracked Open by God’s Love”

I wonder sometimes about God — how God works in us, how God graces us, how God calls us. I wonder, too, if I will hear God’s call in the voice of a Mother God or a Father God. The gender of God’s voice matters to me because I sometimes fear the voice of God our Father and instead long to hear a gentle voice spoken by the Divine Feminine. So the God I envision, a God who is both male and female, comes to me in the ways I need, calls out to me in a voice I do not fear. Still, I wonder at times if God speaks to me at all, if God values me. I wonder if I am really worth more to God than the sparrow God watches so intently. (Matthew 10:29-31)

As I contemplated my sacred worth as God’s child, I could not help but think back to my baptism, the first day I felt truly chosen, the first day of my wholeness, the first day I heard so clearly my call by God to ministry. I was eighteen years old, yet I knew beyond any doubt that my life had been transformed. In the years that followed, the brightness of my life transformation dimmed from time to time by those that would degrade my call and devalue me as a Christian and a minister. It was not easy in those days for a woman called to ministry. What God had affirmed, the Church denied, and I felt diminished and despondent many times through the years.

Which brings me to a beautiful, comforting quote I happened to read today that answered my question about whether or not God values me.These words were part of a sermon preached in January of 1998 by The Most Reverend Frank T. Griswold, XXV Presiding Bishop and Primate, The Episcopal Church, USA:

 A transformed heart is a heart that has been cracked open by God’s love; it is a heart willing to have its tendency towards accusation and judgement overruled by the same voice Jesus heard at his baptism, a voice that speaks to each one of us and says, “You are my daughter, my Son, my Child, my Beloved, my Chosen One in whom I delight, in whom I rejoice, with whom I am well pleased simply because you are. Live on in my love; enter into my joy; abide in my peace.”

Simply because I am!

I can live with that — knowing that God really does value me as a child of God and knowing that both my transformation and my call to ministry matter. “Live on in my love; enter into my joy; abide in my peace.”

For that knowledge, thanks be to God. Amen.

 


Every child of God is called. “Follow me” was spoken to fisherfolk, not to the religious leaders of the day. This song is special to me because it was sung at my ordination. I hope it will inspire you in the times you struggle with your call from GOD.

Immeasurably More

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My life is immeasurably more than I ever imagined. Yes, I have a serious illness. Yes, retirement income is dismal. Yes, making ends meet is difficult. Yes, waiting on a kidney transplant is challenging. Yet the blessings that I receive from God every day that I live is immeasurably more than I deserve.

I often think of the scripture that talks about Christ dwelling in our hearts through faith. It is part of a beautiful passage in the third chapter of Ephesians. I am constantly amazed that Christ dwells in my heart through faith. It is a miracle of God that enables Christ to dwell in my heart, to be literally inside me, to make all the difference in my life. That profound thought leaves me without words of my own. Instead, I leave you with the rest of the passage in Ephesians:

And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. – Ephesians 3:17-21

Resting in God’s Love

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Where do I find God? There are times when, for whatever the reason, I feel estranged from God. There are times when, though my faith tells me that God is near, I simply do not feel God’s presence. During those times, my prayer seems empty. I cannot connect to God. I cannot sense God’s love. I feel lost and confused. I cannot make myself believe that God loves me.

Sometimes God speaks to me through the words of others. Bishop Steven Charleston writes these comforting words:

You are not lost. Not to me.
And never will be.
No matter where you may be,
no matter how far or deep or dark
or empty or alone or confusing or new
or complex or tangled
or bad or difficult,
I will find you.
I will find you and I will be with you.
I will come to you and hold you and care for you
and uplift you and protect you
and heal you and save you
and bring you home.
So you never need be afraid.
Never. For you will not be lost, not to me.
I have you. Now and forever.
Be at peace and rest in that peace.
You will never be in a place my love cannot find.
So says our God.

Without fail, I eventually return to peace. I find my way back, every time, and I find myself again resting in God’s love.

Love Has the Last Word

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My last blog post spoke of being unable to escape adversity. And it is true that we will not get through this life without adversity, no matter how hard we try. The path we walk is steep and winding, leading us forward through all sorts of dangers, toils and snares. The road can be frightening. It can be challenging.

We navigate in a world that is sometimes filled with terror and hate. But the best news for us comes from Bishop Steven Charleston.

The final word to our lives will not be terror or hate. Even if they seem overwhelming now, they will not define us or control us. Other forces are at work, deep forces that move silently among us, drawing us closer against the storm. Whenever human beings face disaster together, whatever that peril may be, our ancient instinct for compassion rises up to unite us in common cause. We do not shatter beneath the blows. We only grow stronger. No, fear and hate will never have the last word. Love will.

There is no better news than that!

I love the hymn Amazing Love. How Can it Be. The words of the fourth stanza give me new and fresh hope.

Long my imprisoned spirit lay
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray,
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.

Amazing love, how can it be that Thou, my God, should die for me?

Love has the last word.

It Lights the Whole Sky

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The sunrise each morning reminds me that God loves me like the brilliance of the sunlight. In fact, God loves us in so many ways, through so many gifts — the evening sky, the starlight, a gentle rain, a cooling breeze, the brilliant sunlight. In so many ways, God says, “I love you.” And God’s miracles, large and small, enlighten our path.

The longer I live, the more grateful I am for God’s love and care. The more I marvel at God’s graces. The more I give thanks for God’s protection. Every fresh new morning gifts me with the faithfulness of God. Every sunrise fills my spirit with bright new hope. Every day, without failure, the sun rises to bring light to my day.

In the words of the poet, Hāfez, that kind of love “lights the whole sky.”

And still, after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
“You owe Me.”

Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.

― Hāfez