If you are looking for my blog titled, The Contemplative Catholic Convert, you are at the right spot.

Monday, March 21, 2011

It Can Change Your Life, Too

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12).

For the past few months (three, actually) a friend and I have communicated via email about our faith. Sandra -- not her real name -- is a neophyte Christian and has, for years, suffered under the misperception that God is not the gracious, merciful and loving God I've been telling her about.

As I do with everyone with whom I share my faith, I encouraged her to begin a consistent pattern of reading the Bible. Recognizing any newbie can find that a daunting task (The Bible?!?  Where do I begin?  It will take me forever . . . ), I suggested she try my Bible Reading Plan (you can find a copy of it here).

And she did.

Since the end of December 2010 she has read: Genesis, Exodus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Esther, and is now in 1 Samuel. In the NT she's read: Luke, Acts, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Hebrews, Galatians, Ephesians, and is now in Romans.

Sixteen books in three months. The lady is on fire to devour God's word, to learn what He has to say to her, how He can comfort her, direct her, embrace her, remind her He is not at all like the earlier image she held of Him.

A couple of weeks ago she sent me another email. In it she itemized dozens of Scripture passages she has found to help her wage spiritual war against the lies of Satan who is trying mightily to side-track her faith.  Here is a very partial list of what she sent. She calls it, Lies Revealed, Lies Repealed:

Lie #1: No one will ever love me for me. If anyone says they love or care about me, I need to protect myself because I will be hurt.

The Truth: God created and loves me just as I am, more than I could ever hope or imagine. He is not entertained by my struggles, but understands and longs for me to turn to Him for comfort and reassurance --

Ps 139: 13ff For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with you.

Rom 8:31-39 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Lie #2: I will never be able to trust anyone enough to be completely vulnerable with them. I must be on guard at all times so as to protect myself. It is better not to trust, than to trust and be disappointed.

The Truth: God is trustworthy. He will never break His promises and I will never be “too much” for Him --

Ps 9:10 Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.

Ps 13:5-6 But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. 6 I will sing the LORD’s praise, for he has been good to me.

Ps 56:3-4 When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. 4 In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Jn 14:1-3 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.

Lie #3: I can never depend on anyone.

The Truth: People may let me down, but God is constant and dependable. He stays the same and His love never changes.

Is 42:5,6a This is what God the LORD says— the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: 6 “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.

Ps 37:23-24 The LORD makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; 24 though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.

Ps 28:7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him

Lie #4: I am alone in the world. I need to take care of myself completely- physically, emotionally and spiritually, because no one- not even God, wants to hear about my problems.

The Truth: I am never alone, for God is with me and promises never to forsake or leave me- even when I sin.

Is 49:15-16 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.

Ps 145:17-19 The LORD is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does. 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.

Ps 139:7-14 Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. 13 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

Is 43:1-2 But now, this is what the LORD says— he who created you, Jacob, he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.

Isn't God good? So gracious He is to take a fearful, doubtful, hurting daughter and feed her with His word of truth, life and light.

Glory to God!

The word of God is living and it is active. And it will change the attitudes and the hopes and heart of anyone who truly seeks to hear from Him.

And so Jesus said what He meant, and meant what He said: Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28).

Are you doubting God's care for you?  Take Sandra's example, and start feeding on the Word of God. Here is a reading plan you might find useful.


Anonymous said...

I will have to read this more carefully later, but I am having somewhat the same experience. I read prayer books, books about prayer, the spiritual life, saints, morning and evening prayer but I never read the Bible! On FB a priest set up a very simple Lenten reading plan, it's Beautiful. It's wonderful to just plain old read the Bible!!! I have downloaded your plan before, but I am doing it again now and will do this after Divine Mercy Sunday when the Lenten Plan is done.
Thank you and God bless you.

Richard Maffeo said...

You are welcome. Be consistent and it will change your life.

Patricia said...

I find great comfort in reading John: 14-17. Also, a priest once told me to choose a "friend Paslm," one through which I especially experienced God speaking to me. It's comforting to turn to those familiar words, and good to have even more than one "friend Psalm."

If your friend is a Catholic, she will surely be blessed by spending time in Our Lord's Real Presence. You can't leave without being embraced by Jesus, even though you may not feel it, your heart will know.

I will pray that Sandra will soon know how deeply God is in love with her.