Devotionals by Other People

Fixed, Surrounded, and Rooted in Love (Guest Post by Evangeline Whitlock)

I’m delighted to share another reflection written by my friend and guest blogger Evangeline Rose Whitlock, a professional stage manager and visiting professor in Baylor University’s theatre department. – Christy

the longing the love, by Kathy Hastings, courtesy of byfor.org (creative commons)
the longing the love, by Kathy Hastings, courtesy of byfor.org (creative commons)

Pray

When I find it hard to be alone with God and with myself, I pray a very simple prayer using an acronym I learned as a child, in hopes of easing the fear that comes with having to sit by myself after a lot of time surrounded by others (fellow extroverts, I’m talking to you!)  That acronym is ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication), and tonight I pray:

– Lord I love you and I praise your name.

– Father, please forgive me of my sins.

– Jesus, thank you for every blessing in my life – for giving me legs to walk with and a heart to love with and a mind to think with and too much more to count.

– God on high, please be with my family and friends who are in need of your love and bring them comfort and peace.

Read

Three short passages today…you have to turn a few pages!

1 Kings 8:56-61

“Blessed be the Lord who has given rest to his people Israel, according to all his good promise, which he uttered by Moses his servant.  The Lord our God be with us, as he was with our fathers; may he not leave us or forsake us; that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our fathers.  Let these words of mine, wherewith I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, and may he maintain the cause of his servant, and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires; that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no other.  Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.”

Luke 2:19

“But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”

Ephesians 3:17-19

“That you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have power to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Reflect

June flew by in an excited blur of a great job, a great city, a great company, sunshine, exercise, living healthy, building on old friendships, and starting new ones.  In fact, June went by SO fast, this post is actually a week late for making my monthly deadline to Christy (once again, splashed all over social media – this time the platform was Foursquare!).

Three very different passages, from three very different parts of the Bible, and each pointing back to the same thing: the love God has for his people and the love we are to have for Him.  Our lives as Christians absolutely come down to being fixed in love.  Surrounded in love.  Rooted in love.

Solomon’s prayer of blessing for the people of Israel reminds us of the ways that God pours out his love for us (who has given rest…may he incline our hearts) and the ways that we in turn show our love for him (heart be wholly true…keeping his commandments).

Mary ponders the love that would send the Savior into this world through her womb and the love that enabled her to say yes.

And Paul, as he always does, writes straightforwardly of God’s abundant love – a love that surpasses all knowledge and one that can fill us completely and totally.

Love was a theme that ran all through my June.  I was reading through 1 Kings, Luke, and Ephesians – books and letters full of tales of God’s love for his people as evidenced above.  I loved the show I was doing.  I loved going to work each day.  I loved the people with whom I was working.  I loved the new friends I made.  I loved the daily routine of my life, which included all my favorite activities like running, ice skating, reading, taking naps.  I loved the coffee shop a friend introduced me to.  (Zona Rosa in Pasadena has the best coffee in the LA basin).  I loved every little, single, thing about it – even the traffic I had to sit through every day to get to and from work.  I loved my last day off when I was 4000 feet in the Angeles Crest at 3:00 pm and at sea level in Marina del Rey by 3:30 pm.  Southern California is truly amazing.

(I know.  Life is so hard for me, isn’t it?  Trust me.  I don’t ever for a second forget how lucky I am).

But as the cliché goes – all good things must come to an end.

I loved everything so much that it made it really, really, really difficult to leave.  Like, sit in my rental car in my apartment parking lot and cry before I could get on the freeway to the airport kind of difficult.  Like so hard that the past week I’ve been in something of a mental and emotional fog I haven’t been able to pull myself out of.  It’s a new state of being for me, and the melancholia doesn’t suit me well.

So now I take a lesson from Mary.  I can keep all these things and ponder them in my heart.  This quiet time between is as important to take as the excited and frenetic time during.  Even Jesus had to take time out between hefty sermons and weeks of preaching days on end to reflect and recuperate and prepare for the next round.

I take a lesson from Paul – I can be filled with the fullness of God, even as I feel empty from an experience that had to come to an end.

I take a lesson from Solomon – I can let my heart be wholly true to the Lord, and he will not leave me or forsake me, even as I feel completely alone and lonely.

Everything in LA had to end.  I have wonderful memories of the entire experience and I have forged new relationships that will hopefully last a lifetime.

But God’s love for us never ends, and his love story never has to be a memory.  It lives and breathes each day through us, the people that he loves so much.  There is no “hopefully” to God’s relationship with us lasting a lifetime – there is, and it extends beyond our earthly lifetime.  Need proof?  Reread today’s passages.  Reread the lessons I’m taking away from those passages.  God loves us.

And I’m resting on that absolute certainty of God’s love tonight as I continue to pray my simple prayer and get back to being okay with being alone with God and with myself.

Apply

How have you experienced God’s love in the past month?  What have you loved that you have had to say a painful goodbye to or let go of too soon? Let God’s ultimate love story pull you out of whatever emotional, mental, or physical fog that letting go or saying goodbye has made you feel.  It may seem difficult and more than your heart and spirit can bear – but who was it that said, “my yolk is easy and my burden is light”?

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