A deeper journey
Let the silence deepen within you and around you. From the silence, hear these words:
His head had been shaved and his eyes gouged out by his enemies, thanks to the betrayal of someone he trusted. His robust life had been reduced to grinding grain in prison. To add insult to injury, the Philistines commanded Samson to entertain them while they worshipped Dagon, the god of fertility and crops. In that moment, surrounded by 3,000 men and women who were “in high spirits,” Samson made his last request of Yahweh.
Let’s consider for a moment the meaning of that phrase.
In his book, “Genesis: A Commentary,” Bruce Waltke writes:
“Biblical faith is largely a matter of memory. Through memory each generation of believers commits itself to the faith of its ancestors. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel says, ‘Much of what the Bible demands can be comprised of one word: Remember.’ To remember is not simply an empty mental act. Heschel argues, ‘To remember means to re-member the body, to bring the separated parts of the community of truth back together, to reunite the whole. The opposite of re-member is not forget, but dis-member.’”
Our communities, our lives, our hearts, our souls have been pulled apart. We have been dismembered as the body of Christ as well, unable to gather, hug one another, stand side-by-side and sing, share Communion or greet one another with a holy kiss. It’s as if our heads have been shaved (we’ve lost our strength) and our eyes have been gouged out (we’ve lost our vision), and some days it seems we are wandering aimlessly in a circle, like a prisoner grinding grain. From the depths of our hearts, it might be all we can do to whisper, “Sovereign LORD, remember me.”
We find David, the warrior king, in an intimate conversation with his own soul (which appears to be pulled apart). David is inviting his soul to remember and be re-membered by the Lord.
Bless the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, bless his holy name.
Bless the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Yet recall that this warrior king is the same shepherd who poetically described the posture of prayer as an infant resting in the arms of his mother (Psalm 131). It is just as likely that David is comforting his soul in a quiet voice, soothing it like a mother stroking the head of a sick child who is lain out before her. By the end of the Psalm, David is commanding the angels and all of creation to praise God. At the beginning, however, imagine the shepherd king speaking tenderly to his weary soul.
Take a moment now to imagine kneeling beside your own soul, like a mother or father kneeling beside a suffering child. Imagine Jesus, filled with compassion, kneeling beside you. Together, what do you notice about the condition of your soul today?
Do not hurry past this time of noticing. Ask the Lord to reveal to you what He wants you to see and know. Feel His loving gaze upon you. Perhaps write what He reveals to you in your journal.
Invite the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort to help you. Ask the Spirit to tune your inner ear to hear His tender voice from within. He comforts us in all of our troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Hear His kind and gentle whisper in the words below:
Remember the benefits of belonging to Me, your good and loving Father.
I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist.
I have searched you and known you and brought My healing presence into all your broken places.
I have climbed down into the pit of discouragement and despair and lifted you out into the sunlight.
I have gently brushed away the dirt and debris from your clothing,
and now I am placing a sparkling crown upon your head.
As I place that crown, I am looking lovingly into your eyes, My eyes filled with compassion.
I see all that is within you, including your deepest longings and desires, and I am filled with gladness.
It is My delight to satisfy you deeply with good things, so that you might walk lightly, run freely and soar.
All of this, my child, is what good fathers do. Though this world is filled with trouble, do not forget,
I am your good and loving Father.
LINGER WITH THESE WORDS FOR AS LONG AS THEY BRING COMFORT AND CONSOLATION.
Remember: In Jesus all things hold together (Colossians 1:17). Thank the Father, Son and Holy Spirit for re-membering you today.
“Friend, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:9). Do you remember what it was like the first time you heard these words from Jesus, deep within your own soul? Recall all that you can from that experience, and linger in it. Journal about it. Thank God for it. Open your soul to receive His forgiveness again today. Drink it in like living water. Pause throughout the day and allow Jesus to look into your eyes and say to you, once again, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
Read Luke 5:12-16. Place yourself in the scene. Imagine you are the leper, covered with oozing sores, even in your respiratory tract and in your eyes. You can never escape the discomfort, the smell, the isolation and constant preoccupation with your disease. Now you see Jesus, and your heart starts racing. You’ve heard some things. Could it be? You run to Jesus and drop on your knees in front of Him. You bury your face in the dirt and cry out for mercy. “Lord, if you are willing…” What do you imagine Jesus is thinking in this moment? What do you imagine He is feeling? If you were to look up into His eyes right now, what would you see? Jesus did not hesitate. He touched the man who had not been touched in years and healed him. Jesus was willing. Can you recall a time when Jesus reached out and touched you and brought healing or restoration? Recall all that you can from that experience. Journal about it. Lord, I remember when you… Thank God for it. If you could fall on your face before Jesus today and say, “Lord, if you are willing, you can…,” how would you complete that sentence? What conversation would you like to have with the Lord right now about all of these things?
“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand” (Psalm 40:2). Imagine yourself being physically lifted out of a slimy pit by Jesus. He would need to bend down, put His arms firmly around your torso, His face cheek-to-cheek with yours. Hear Him groan as He puts all His strength into lifting you from the mud and mire. Feel the relief and freedom as He sets you firmly on the solid ground. See Him smile at you and maybe even chuckle. When have you experienced a deep-pit rescue from Jesus? Recall all that you can from that experience. Journal about it. Give God thanks.
Read Luke 15:11-24. Read it slowly, as if you were reading it for the first time. After reading it, return to and linger with these words, “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” Linger and imagine yourself as the son in this scene. The Father sees you. The Father is filled with compassion for you; filled so full, there is no room for anything else. The Father takes off running for you and almost knocks you over with His affection and His love. Imagine the Father kissing you, on the forehead. On your cheeks. He can’t stop kissing you. Can you recall a time when you sensed or experienced the Father’s extravagant love for you? Even just a little? Recall all that you can from that experience. Have a conversation with the Father about it. What would you like Him to know?
Read the account of Jesus and Bartimaeus in Mark 10:46-52. Read it slowly, with new eyes. What do you notice about Jesus in this exchange? What do you notice about the blind man? Can you recall a time when God satisfied a deep desire of your heart? Recall as much as you can of that experience. Journal about it. Give thanks to God. It took faith for the blind man to tell Jesus the simple, unvarnished truth about what he wanted. Are you willing to tell Jesus the truth about what you deeply want today?
“He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’ Then he said, ‘Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true’” (Revelation 21:5). Do you remember what it felt like the first time you experienced new life in Christ? Recall as much as you can of that experience, internally and externally. If you are able, share what you remember with a friend. What would you like to say to God about this experience? As you look over your life today, is there any place where you are waiting and longing for God to make everything new? Read His words again from Revelation 21:5. What do His words stir in you?
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