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

Saturday, August 31, 2013

But God

Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. (Psalm 103:13-14)

Nancy and I recently moved from Washington State to Georgia. In doing so we left behind many friends, friends from our closely knit neighborhood and friends from our church with whom we regularly worshiped God together and studied His word – friends with whom we prayed together, laughed with each other, broke bread with each other.

Added to that loss was also the loss of the very rewarding relationships I so enjoyed on the job, relationships with my colleagues and relationships with my students. Further complicating the pressure cooker is also the burden of finding new employment, a new church, and a new community in which to live.

To be frank, this move has been an extraordinarily taxing time for Nancy and me – and the pressure has manifested itself in surprisingly ugly and angry outbursts against each other. I am ashamed to admit it, but perhaps my admission can help someone else cope better with his or her own stressors.

In recent years as I’ve studied the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit led me on several occasions to the phrase often used by St. Paul, “But God.” For example, Romans 5:8, But God demonstrated His love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In other words, though I stood shaking my fist in God’s face, He sent His Son to die for me.
Another is Ephesians 2:4, But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ . . . .  In other words, when my heart, soul and mind were dead (the Greek word used here is the same from which we get ‘necrotic), God breathed life into me and I was born again through Christ Jesus.

Ah! How I love the promise and the power inherent in that phrase, But God.

So there I was this morning, reading the Scriptures and apologizing to Him again for my thoughtlessness toward Nancy, and He reminded me of an ancient hymn she and I sang from time to time when we worshiped in Protestant churches. It was written by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, Jesus, The Very Thought of Thee. Click here to listen to it. The lyrics reminded me of that very comforting phrase, But God.

    Jesus, the very thought of Thee
    With sweetness fills the breast;
    But sweeter far Thy face to see,
    And in Thy presence rest.
Nancy and I are burdened with what we are tempted to think is excessive stress, But God says: “Come to Me, you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,
Nor can the mem’ry find
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Savior of mankind!

We’re caught in a spiral of frustration, But God says:  “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." (John 14:27)

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall, how kind Thou art!
How good to those who seek!

We’re confused and feel like we’re walking blindly, But God says, “Trust Me. ‘I know the plans that I have for you, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”’ (Jeremiah 29:11)

All those who find Thee find a bliss
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.

Our minds race from one “what-if?” to another, But God saysRejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:4-7)

Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize will be;
Jesus, be Thou our glory now,
And through eternity.

In these last few weeks I’ve wondered, “What’s wrong with me that I act as I do?”  But God says “If you confess your sins, God is faithful and righteous to forgive you your sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. (See 1 John 1:9); and Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:8-10)

When I look at myself in the mirror of God’s word, I cannot help but wonder why He loves me as He does. But oh! I am ever grateful for the “But Gods” in Scripture, and that He loves me so very much, despite my many, many failures.


Holly said...

Rich, sorry for your stressors, but I sure do love this post. It really speaks to God's children on so many levels. We have a wonderful God!

Rich Maffeo said...

Thanks, Holly. That's why I posted it . . . we are all so subject to the same kinds of twists and turns in life. God is always walking with us. I need to be reminded of it quite often. I suspect others do as well.

Anonymous said...

of course we have a stressful time walking with the Eternal, all Powerful God who does not think like we do at all with our pitiful linear view point. Sometimes it feels like He not only changes our paradigms, He places us on another planet, transforming each of our cells into something alien..the presence of Jesus..no longer i that lives but Christ that Lives in me"..and i think I will always be peaceful!!!

Rich Maffeo said...

Melanie, I really like the way you have described our walk with God. Pitiful linear view. Placing us on another planet. Transforming our cells into something alien. Great illustrations because they are so true. Thanks.