connectedness over time – mediation

“Above all, it is not necessary that we should have any unexpected, extraordinary experiences in meditation. This can happen, but if it does not, it is not a sign that the meditation period has been useless … Above all, we must not allow them to keep us from adhering to our meditation period with great patience and fidelity. It is, therefore, not good for us to take too seriously the many untoward experiences we have with ourselves in meditation. It is here that our old vanity and our illicit claims upon God may creep in by a pious detour, as if it were our right to have nothing but elevating and fruitful experiences, and as if the discovery of our own inner poverty were quite below our dignity.” — life together, Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer offers such a helpful reality. When we spend time in meditation — making space for spirtiual connectedness with God through personal prayer, intercession, and scripture — our barometer does not have to be excitement or dynamism. Nor does it need to be immediate understanding.

In the same way we relate to another human being, with varying levels of engagement, understanding, and energy, our relating to God is much the same. While it takes continual engagement and commitment, the fruit of a relationship is seen over time. We understand one another over time. We grow in the knowledge of God over time. Each individual experience amounts to a much greater connectedness.

I can remember realizing this in practice for the first time. I immediately noticed the pressure to make this one count during time spent in prayer and in scripture begin to dissipate. And I was left with my desire for God and his desire for me — a beautiful foundation for relationship.

 

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

excerpt from On Trusting God – Isaiah 26

You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You (Isaiah 26).

Take several quiet moments to read over this passage. Let it impact you as you read. What does it mean for you, right now, in this time to keep your mind on God? He promises his perfect peace to us as we gaze upon him, as we trust him.

 

 

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

Ordinary

The celebration of the ordinary was first introduced to me by content from John Smeltzer. I loved the conversation then and it continues to be meaningful to me now. As Becky and I have continued on the Heart Living journey with Sarah Bingaman, the topic of on being ordinary has resurfaced in helpful [yet challenging] ways.

To cope with shame or fear related to who we are or about what we need or how we hurt we tend to reject anything ordinary about us and strive for the ideal.
— Sarah Bingaman

While the process of rediscovering our ordinariness is costly and takes courage, ordinariness is a most incredible state of being. For me, to arrive at ordinariness is to arrive at my reality, the truth of me — no pretense, no act. It takes less energy to keep up being myself, as I truly am. And the moment we arrive at some understanding of our being ordinary, we have a new life filter. When we receive feedback or the external expectation of another person, before we manage it and decide how to apply it,  we get to process these things through the filter of being ordinary — our self-professed ordinariness.

When I come to realize that I am ordinary, I can more easily sort through expectations [of myself and others] keeping those that fit who I truly am and setting aside those that do not. An expectation of another human [or an expectation of myself] is not intrinsically wrong or bad, but if I begin to build the internal scaffolding of my life, first around that which is imposed upon me, then I am no longer being true to myself. And if I am not being true to myself, then I have nothing true to offer to another. Nor can I be authentically present with them.

Ordinary is a journey. It is not easy and it is not immediate. But I have found this road to bring such relief. When I give myself permission to be ordinary, I give myself permission to be weak. I give myself permission not to know everything I need to know to do everything I need to do. I give myself opportunity to know others and be known by them, as we seek to create and build and do, together. Slowly, over time, I begin to set aside the walls and shields I have learned in (false)self preservation. And I am received [or not] for who I am — an ordinary human among other ordinary humans.

Being ordinary enables me to relate more authentically with God — allowing him to refresh the inner places of my heart previously hidden from him and potentially unrealized by me. When I cannot be weak, then he cannot offer strength. When I cannot be afraid, then he cannot bring comfort. When I cannot be sad or feel pain, then he cannot be with me in my sorrow. When I cannot be ignorant, then I have given no room for his wisdom.

Embracing ordinariness does not mean embracing a lack of excellence or even giftedness. It is simply the confession of need. What a beautiful human commonality — need. We hurt, we experience loss, we have weakness. What a relief to be ordinary. And what a gift, the openness and togetherness that comes from needing one another.

 

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember

excerpt from On Trusting God – Deuteronomy 31

Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you (Deut 31).

Take a deep breath and meditate on this promise of the Lord. I am the one who goes with you. I will not leave you. I will not abandon you. This is reality.

Now, when you have a moment, allow yourself to reflect on one or two of the most challenging things currently impacting your life. Ask the Lord how he wants to be with you in the midst of these challenges. Write down anything that you sense the Lord bringing to mind [words, passage of scripture, memory, mental picture].

Set a reminder [phone/watch] to meditate on this reality several moments throughout your day – He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.

 

Phil Rice — philrice.blog
Executive Director of Ember