“Well, this is fate! …What do they call it when everything intersects?” “The Bermuda Triangle.” (wonderful lines written by the late Nora Ephron and spoken by Jay and Sam in the movie, Sleepless in Seattle)
A favorite fellow blogger wrote recently about letting God be God. I responded that she was absolutely right and that all I needed to do was show up. (I keep stealing her best words. Sorry, Donald, I don’t think you do have the best words, but I won’t get into that now.)
It has been a while since I have written anything; a lot has happened. (In fact, there are 82 new posts for me to read in my inbox.) Last week, my daughter got her driver’s license and I closed on my house in North Carolina. However, because I was away for 5 days, my dear elderly dog, Stella, refused to eat or drink. (The people tending to my animals while I was gone, did not notify me.) Because my coaxing her back to health seems to be working, I am writing this morning.
Also, while I was in North Carolina, I encountered several people who already had their ‘dukes up’ when I entered the room: sales clerks, buyer’s agents, and even a beloved friend. Driving home with the top down on my little blue wonder car, I felt like I was “getting the hell out of Dodge.” As I breathed deep and emptied my mind of the bits of discordant conversations, the scripture words “shake the dust off your feet,” came to mind.
Now, I am aware of the potential punishment due one who alters or disagrees with scripture, but when I look at the whole text,
If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city…
…I am disturbed. These words are from the Gospel of Matthew where Jesus sends out the twelve apostles “with the following instructions: ‘Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel.'” Now, maybe it is because they are to try to reach out to the Jews; but this does not sound like the Jesus I know. I am reminded of the parable of the shepherd who goes out looking for the one lost sheep. Jesus does not tell me to judge someone as “not worthy” and therefore to “take back my blessing of peace.” Sure, there are swine who are not going to appreciate pearls but convincing them, much less judging them as unworthy, just isn’t my job. Let me explain what I mean…
In the verse, “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet,” I see that as wisdom for my psychological health. In a previous essay, I wrote about the techniques used to keep oneself safe when attempting to help others; I wrote about how healing ministers have a special prayer they pray to cleanse themselves of residual attachment to the pain, evil spirits, or even pride in having helped Jesus to heal someone.
However, I believe the process of acting as ambassadors for Christ does not end just because I have not been well-received; God’s work is far from over. If I give to someone a blessing of peace, I have planted a seed or embedded a grain of sand. I may walk away, but circumstances outside of my knowledge can, and likely will, cause that seed to germinate and, maybe years from now, will grow into belief and faith. I think of the seeds in the desert that lie dormant until the rains come. The image at the top of this essay was published last October in the Daily Mail . The picture is of the Atacama desert in Chile, “the worlds driest desert,” in late spring after heavy storms took place in March. In the words of the writer, “a magical transformation brings the area to life.”
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/travel/travel_news/article-3294865/Blooming-marvellous-rain-falls-world-s-driest-desert-jaw-dropping-phenomenon-takes-place-year-s-display-spectacular-18-years.html#ixzz42z6FNd6z
This image above may be what I encounter on a daily basis, but my blessings are like a seed tossed out into that sand. Sure, I will shake the dust from my feet because I do not want to dwell on the rejection or seeming lack of acceptance of God’s love, but my job is done. Now, it is up to God…who will be God.
I would like to add that sometimes I am met with true rancor; I usually have no idea what is the reason behind it or the source of it, but I can bet I have touched on something that needs God’s healing touch. Again, it is usually none of my business and, therefore, it is not my job to try to fix it. Furthermore, in cases such as that, I have likely planted a grain of sand that, God willing, will irritate the hearer until a pearl of wisdom is formed…but this can take years, just like within an oyster; I don’t need to see it happen. I believe and have faith; I move on. What happens in time is God business.
Now, I would like to point out that this is my view of my visit to North Carolina after five days of letting disturbing events rest because of my preoccupation with my dear dog. (Was that, too, a blessing from God?) At the time, last week, I felt like the prophet Elijah, running and hiding in the cave; I was defensive and over-reacting to other’s hostility toward me…hence the deep-breathing and conscious laying of issues at the feet of Jesus. By the way, at the time, methought, I protested too much (forgive me, William); There was something in what was going on that rankled me, as well.
A young blogger recently indicated that he was concerned about the state of the salvation of his friends as they were facing college; my advice to him was to remember that their souls were in God’s hands and that his job was to love them, be kind to them, be there to answer questions, but to try to not judge or criticize them; God is not done with them and paths of their lives will be as diverse as the flowers of the world.
This same blogger, only weeks before, had expressed dismay over his own doubts and waverings of faith. When I replied with some of my personal experiences and with teachings and practices that have helped me, he responded with much self-righteous criticism and condemnation; he said some of my beliefs and practices were”Satanic.” Before I lashed out in self-defense, I had to remind myself that he is probably no more than 20 years old and, certainly, God is not done with him, yet, either. However, it would be prudent for me to give the topics mentioned in his attacks at least a cursory look… Balaam’s ass and all that.
When something like that niggles my soul, I am wise to reflect on the situation. I am not exempt from receiving seeds and sand from others who are unknowingly (or knowingly) acting on behalf of God. My beloved friend’s screaming at me that “Now, you’re just being contrary!” has merit; I am by no means a saint. I can be contrary. I can be mean-spirited. How do you think I recognize so well the mean-spirited ways of others ?!? I can only thank God, and my friends and family, that there are such things as forgiveness and understanding.
The point I started out with is simply this: my job is to show up. Jesus is not physically here to plant seeds and sand; I am. I am not equipped, or emotionally or spiritually healthy enough, to give appropriate correction to others. However, I can obey Jesus’ commandments to love God and to love my neighbor. The only way I know how to love my neighbor is to show up, be kind to them, to set a good example of what ‘love of God and neighbor’ look like, to not judge or criticize them, and to forgive them and have faith that God is not done with them, yet.
To God be the Glory….