FIFTH WEEK OF LENT MARCH 18
WEEK OF VISITS
“Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life . . . Consider the lilies of the field . . .”
Scripture: Matthew 6:25, 28
After several angioplasties on her leg to restore circulation, I would often find my mother sitting quietly on her favorite recliner, obviously worried about the ultimate fate of her foot. She was most likely remembering how she used to piggyback her mother-in-law upstairs. Nana had already lost both legs above the knees to severe diabetes before Mom had married my dad and moved into his home as their housekeeper.
We had already had the requisite discussion. That it would be better to lose her foot than to lose her life if it came to that. The doctors hadn’t given up hope to restore the circulation and neither should we. But, if it came to that, we could make it work.
I didn’t like to watch her worry. So I tried another approach – the syllogism model I had learned in my freshman college course, Logic 101. I told her, “Mom, you are a woman of faith, aren’t you?” When she agreed, I continued, “Then you have to stop worrying. Worry is doubt and doubt is an absence of faith. When you have faith, you can have no doubt. When you have no doubt, you can’t have worry.”
She actually smiled and we started talking about supper. After a few minutes, though, I saw her drift back into her pensive mode. I asked her, “Are you insulting God again?” The question mark on her face told me to continue. “You insult God when you worry. You are telling him that you doubt that He will take care of it. You have to put all of your faith in Him. He will take care of everything in His own way and in His own time. Trust Him.”
Her carefree response lasted a little longer that second time. I must admit that sometimes I have to give that pep talk to myself. Science has proven that negative thoughts create physical enzymes that are corrosive and positive thoughts promote healing. So I try to do my best to practice for myself what I preached to her that day.
Prayer: Lord, please help me to place my concerns completely into Your loving hands. I trust that You will lead me to do what I have to when I need to, so my momentary concerns will no longer be a problem. Amen
What God Requires
Scripture: Micah 6: 6-8; also Luke 23:32-43
Quote: "...and what doth God require of thee but to do justice and to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God?" (King James Version)
"...and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness and to walk humbly with your God." (New Revised Standard Version)
A while back I read a book by Anne LaMott called Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy. She starts her book by quoting Micah's instruction to us from Micah 6:8. Notice that the word 'mercy' in the King James Version of the Bible translates to 'kindness' in the version we use at Lima UMC.
What the author helped me see about mercy is that it is synonymous with grace, forgiveness and compassion. Who doesn't love these things? However, being a self-proscribed 'perfectionist' means I've struggled to be gentler in my view of what can reasonably be expected of anyone, myself included. This book gave me a new perspective - seeing mercy as being all around us. I think it has helped soften me just enough so that I can give others a break, and even give myself a break once in a while.
The Gospel writers shared many stories of Jesus demonstrating mercy and compassion, something that doesn't always come naturally to us as imperfect humans. During Lent, we can be inspired by Jesus' ability, even at the end, to be merciful towards everyone (Luke 23:34).
Prayer: Lord, in this time of Lent, open our eyes to what is required of us. Help us to learn through Jesus the simple, yet important, acts of mercy and kindness we can do for each other every day. Amen.