Thursday, February 7, 2013

God's Invitation to Abundant Life

I was blown away by my Bible readings today. Every single one of them was just so appropriate for the circumstances we are personally facing today. Talk about Scripture being revelation! Not to mention guidance!!

I am following the Daily Office Year One (Book of Common Prayer... according to the use of the Episcopal Church certified in 1990 and published by the Oxford University Press).  We are in Week of 4 Epiphany and I will share two of the four readings I did this morning; the third led me to a confession and the fourth, was of forgiveness, affirmation, and guidance, all deserving another separate post.

Psalm 71 - Prayer for Lifelong Protection and Help. As I visualized this psalm and marveled about God as my refuge and fortress, the Holy Spirit flood my memories with images of Fort Suomenlinna. Suomenlinna, a sea fortress, built on a network of islands in the Swedish/Finnish archipelago, has a long and rich history. It was also a most dramatic bastion of freedom in World War II and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. I'm sharing a few pictures captured by our cameras when we visited. What images come to your mind as you think of God as your strong fortress and refuge?   

Fort Suomenlinna
Fort Suomenlinna

Chapel at Fort Suomenlinna
Chapel doors at the Fort

Cannon-ball chains

Near the Fort entry

Fort walls

Big cruise ship entering narrow channel of water

Ship passes safely through the narrow strait

Not the way of the world but the narrows :)
The second reading I am sharing is another very powerful one from which this entry's title comes. I pray it will touch and bless you as it did me. Isaiah 55: 1-13 is An Invitation to Abundant Life but its not just an invitation - it is God's invitation. The invitation is also a foundation for the Christian economic life, along with Matthew 11: 28-30. I must continually remind myself of it and also pray it for my loved ones. The second insight relates to the beautiful verse in God's Invitation to Abundant Life, which closes with a living memorial. Some scholars believe this final verse and promise is a lifting of the curse in Genesis 3: 18. What do I believe? I believe that reconciliation includes healing - of the most difficult kinds, such as personal transformation, physical sickness, mental disorders, economic justice, and psycho-social ailments - and it can become true in our own lives, today! God's promises are not just for eternity. The work of redemption and reconciliation has already begun.  By Jesus, who also promised abundant life now, not just in the future. I'm planting a cypress and a myrtle in my own garden to remind myself of this. You can do the same or simply remember God's invitation and promise of productive, fruitful functioning for all creation, every time you see any of these plants, even the thorns and thistles. Here is the verse:

Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; 
instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
and it shall be to the Lord for a memorial, 
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.  
Isaiah 55: 13

God never ceases to amaze me. He always speaks into my life personally, intimately but oh, if only I always had ears to hear and would take the time to listen, and reflect. And then, willingly and joyfully submit as He leads. May we be blessed as we strive to do these things.

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