SUMMER CONNECTIONS 2015

violets near stone wall

“The child of God knows that the graced life calls him or her to live on a cold and windy mountain, not on the flattened plain of reasonable, middle-of-the-road religion.”
Brennan Manning, Ragamuffin Gospel
This has been a year of transition for my family.  Both of our kids got married and moved out of the house within six months, which is good—they chose well, and they live close; what more could I want?  The transition, however anticipated, has not been without its challenges for me.  I’ve suddenly gone from being a mother with a full and noisy house to not really understanding where I fit.  This took me totally by surprise—I thought I was prepared!
I had time on my hands to read and think and explore where I want this next third of my life to take me, and I found myself revisiting my past life, before Jesus.  I found that there are demons of self-sufficiency, over-indulgence, impulsiveness, and isolation (and more!), that I thought I had dealt with long ago, that were actually just buried under the busyness of work, raising a family, and running a household.  It seemed that every time I stepped out, I found myself responding like the teenager I thought I’d left behind.
I think I’m beginning to understand why God allowed me to go through this time of struggle.  Without my “besetting sins,” without recognizing my own depravity and weakness and moral failure, I fail to recognize and be amazed at the great gift of God’s grace!  If I lock myself up and aware from risky situations, where I might actually sin, then I can forget that I am a sinner saved by grace.  If I say nothing, I don’t risk saying the wrong thing.  If I do nothing, I can’t make a mistake.  But this kind of isolated, withdrawn life on the fringe stunts spiritual growth.  Now the challenge is to put myself at risk of doing/saying/thinking the wrong thing, and not withdrawing out of fear of failure.  Now the challenge is to be vulnerable, to live in community with people who challenge me to grow.
Am I there yet?  Not by miles—not by light-years!  But if I choose to live boldly and honestly, remembering God’s unconditional love and grace for me even when I mess up, I will move closer to becoming the woman God wants me to be.
Prayer:  Father God, I thank you that you love me with a furious love, and that you show me your relentless grace, even when I fall far short of what you call me to be.  I thank you for the friends and family who have shown me unconditional love and support—we are indeed made for community, and they have been your messengers to me.  Help me to be more like you, to exhibit the fruit of your spirit, and help me to learn to be bold and honest in my pursuit of intimacy with you and those you have put in my life.
Contributed by Joy Stalder
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