By Deborah Kendrick
Integrity is the essence of the first readings on this day. Of God’s integrity there can be no question. Our life’s work is to bring ours into accordance with His.
Every word of God is tested;
He is a shield to those who take refuge in Him.
Do not add to His words or He will reprove you,
And you will be proved a liar. (Proverbs 30: 5-6)
How do we know if we are living a life pleasing to God? Have we twisted and altered His words to conform to our own desires, bypassing a deep work in the interior of our hearts? Do we avoid encounters with the person of Jesus, forsaking to know Him in His tenderness and kindness? Are we, in fact, serving the God of our own terms? Here are some signs:
1 –There is something wrong with everyone else.
2 –Basically, there is something wrong with everything: too much of this – not enough of that.
3 -Unable in prayer to close one’s eyes for a sustained length of time; very uncomfortable and unable to focus attention away from ourselves, our problems, the inconveniences and myriad of things we just do not like.
4 –Materialism. An inordinate affection for things, wealth, and goods. More. More. Nothing is enough. And here is where one can succumb to maligning the One who loved and created us, for if God really loved us, He would give us what we so strongly want.
5 –Anger. It is hard to be mad with God, whom we cannot see. It is so tempting to release that anger on those who endeavor to draw close to Him and who try to follow Him. Regrettably, this is a very dark turn in the human soul. If I cannot hurt God directly, I can hurt one who tries to live for Him, and that is potent because then I can bring pain to God by attacking someone who loves Him.
6 – Mock repentance. Or none at all. Usually, there is no apology offered. I was the victim. If the people around me did better, I would not suffer so much.
7 –Hardness of heart. I know I am casting a shadow of darkness over the lives of others but I do not care. If they cared about me they would change themselves.
Conclusion: Following “the God of our own terms” is to willfully embrace deception. We forsake being made in the image and likeness of God to trying to make God over in our own image. This is the blueprint for heartbreak, desolation and depression.
There is an atmosphere that surrounds those who mistakenly chose to live on their own terms with God: restlessness, dissatisfaction, disappointment, regret, loneliness, abandonment and suffering with no consolation. Those who forsake to live in His Presence abandon themselves to live in His absence.
Solutions: In Psalms, David spoke to his own soul. So, too, must we.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle. (Psalm 103: 1-5)
Renounce all unclean attachments. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in searching the hidden recesses of the heart for: unforgiveness, bitterness, false accusations, hatred, self-destructive thoughts, greed, lust for things and deceitfulness of riches . . . for a beginning.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving. Blessings pour to, into and through a grateful heart. Stir up the remembrance of the goodness of the Lord in our lives and begin to thank Him. When we allow gratitude to pour through us, thankfulness becomes a habit that we confer countless times daily to God, family, friends and strangers. In all the ways we endeavor to be like Jesus, I have never ceased to be inspired by the description of Him in Luke 4:22.
And all were . . . wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips.
We are all on the same journey to know God and to love Him. Jesus wants to take each of us by the hand and lead us into a place with Him beside the still waters and in lush pastures. The decision is ours to take that first step, holding securely to His hand, never letting go. Thus, we allow Him to bring us all the way into His place of perfect rest, where we live in the arms of His embrace. Here our hearts beat in sync with His heart and together there is heard the sound of only one heart beating. We may rest in the pleasure of His company each and every moment as His abiding Presence becomes our normal life.
O Lord, I love the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells. (Psalm 26:8)
Lead us, O Lord, to the place of Your habitation, where Your glory dwells. For it is in Your Presence that we are changed from glory to glory into Your likeness. In all of our days and in all of our way, we acknowledge, Jesus, we trust You. Amen
About the author:
Deborah Kendrick came into the Catholic Church in 2011 through her interaction with Catholics in ecumenical meetings though out Europe, where she was a conference speaker and led retreats for twenty years. During her testimony, she says, “The French Catholics just loved me into the Church.” Deborah’s heart is to see people know and receive the love God has for them which encompasses a New Pentecost for the new evangelization. “God is calling us closer in this hour. Open hearts bring an open Heaven.” She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Drawing courtesy of William Kendrick. Used with permission. All rights reserved.