“In Search of The Kingdom of God” – Matthew 6:33

Part I of 3

It was many years ago when my life began to change. More than life, it was me that changed. Another dimension I could not explain. The deep seated feeling in my soul as a result of such change was unlike anything I had ever known. The culmination of my past swiftly raced before me. That not in my time, but in the time space that was given to me.

A growing dissatisfaction of life had begun to manifest inside of me. There was no turning back. I could not turn back. I did not want to turn back. The things of life that once held my fascination were no longer fascinating to me. There was no more pleasure. There was no more interest. All desire was lost. My attention was solely on the seed germinating inside of me.

I wanted nothing more than to continue forward. To return where I came from, the familiar and to what was seemingly normal life was all too much to bear. No longer wanting any part of it I did what I could to walk away. While remnants tried to remain my desire to catapult toward this soul-stirring soon left it all behind. No more remnants, no more visitations. All was done, all was over, and all was finished in my heart and my mind. No looking back, oh how much I could not look back. The past bear no resemblance to the personhood of me that was being recreated.  It was as though I was traveling into the dark mystery of the abyss of my own soul. Another soul as it were, unrecognizable and unknown, yet somehow known to me. The life I had and those who I once had known would not be missed. The further I travelled into my soul the farther away I had become.

As my spirit ascended from this world, everyone and everything became unfamiliar to me. Conversations that once held my attention, no longer received my gaze. Ordinary words were just ordinary. It all became such shallowness, which were but utterances outside of my mind. Continual disappointment with life only compounded what I was feeling.

I wanted no more of what I had once known. There was no depth, no wonder, and no breadth. Nothing could be said to speak to my heart. My mind was entranced in another world.

Finding what was true became difficult to find. Finding another who was true even more so. I sought the truth. What could be the truest of true? Where could I go, where could I be? Was it in someone else, or inside of me? I searched for the door, an open door that was calling for me.

Where could I go now? What would be next? I searched my heart, O God, I searched my soul.

You cometh near, yet so far away. My soul is with you, yet my soul is here. I am with you without you, aching to go home.

What first must I seek, if I am seeking You, O Lord? Where will you find me, where will I be? A life without You or a true love with Thee?

My one and only, my soul within a soul. So I search. I am searching still and always.

“But first seek His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)

Copyright @ The Word in Motion. 2022

Photo credit: NASA. Earth as viewed from 10,000 miles away. Taken on November 9, 1967 on Apollo 4 spacecraft (unmanned).

Love in motion – Easter 2022: 1 John 4: 10

I remember a time in my life when serving God hardly seemed to be anything but of service to Him. Those difficult span of years continue to remain even until now. The disappointing outcomes I faced to what has been of no end. Yet I was open. Open not of the world but to what the world brought to me out of the approving hand of God. As though God blessed each serving only to take it upon myself as my daily bread to live another day for Him. I accepted. Not just because, but out of love for my heavenly Father.

My perspective was that Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross for the sins of the world, then what offense could I endure that be worse than His? There was no answer. Could I ever be justified? I heard nothing. Could I ever lament? There was no reply. It was as though no boundaries could exist for me to do the will of the Father’s hand to know what could be on the other side. How would I know? I could not. What if there was something there I had been waiting for, longing for, hoping for? I could not know. To say you can come only this far and not see it through is to limit the fullness of God’s intention.  It would be unrealized, compromised, incomplete, unfinished, and a self-induced abortion of God’s will. Why would I try.

So I walked with Him carefully treading each step I made. My outstretched hand for His, only to know him more deeply, intimately, and lovingly than I ever thought could be. To feel of His pain, with mine de minimis, as He hung on the cross. To feel the constant loss and aloneness on the journey, when the darkness came over as He cried out as though He was forsaken.

Despite the disappointing outcomes, losses, and misunderstandings, I sojourned in solitary servitude. Not for myself, but for my love for God. Motivated by love for Him. Without anything in return. Therefore, love is constantly, continually, infinitely with no end. Love in motion.

The Apostle John wrote….

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4: 10)

In the preceding verses John explains that to know love is to know God, as God is love. As such the practice of love is a sure sign of fellowship with God. God took the initiative in revealing His love for all of humankind by sending His Son Jesus Christ to the world. The nature of love was made full in the manifestation of Christ incarnate and thus was made known, visible, and clear for all the world to see.

Our sin nature makes us prone to not love and surely to not naturally love God. He loved us and took the initiative in revealing His love for humanity by sending His Son to us. By doing so was a demonstration of love by the Father. It was a missionary act of love. God’s love in motion.

Love is not an easily demonstrated by humankind, nor is it easy to accept. However, love is a hallmark of a Christ follower. As such, when love is shown to others it is not recognized as what the world has come to accept as normal. Love is not normal, it is supernatural.

When I say “I love you” only to hear no reply, love in motion.

To show my love for you by kindness and tenderness, but rejected instead, love in motion.

To feed a man in hunger only to be torn down later, love in motion.

To meet a pressing need and be dismissed afterward, love in motion

Forgiving an offense and be offended again, love in motion.

Accepting a friend’s betrayal without them knowing it, love in motion.

To give my love to another and it be taken for granted, love in motion.

Believing explanations that were never meant as true, love in motion

Giving second chances, love in motion.

God the Father released the ocean gates so that His love would be poured out onto all of humankind, past, present, and future through Jesus Christ. By His will, Christ became the proprietor and propitiation for the sin of all. This is love. Love in motion.

Copyright @ The Word in Motion. 2022

Photocredit: repost from the SETI Institute entitled “Heart of Fire”. Photo by Laszlo Kestay/USGS, from 1996 of the West Kamokuna skylight in Hawaii.

Anomaly Traveler: John 12: 25-26 Part II of II

It was the evening of October 15th of this year and I decided to go for a long walk in the neighborhood. It is an old and prestigious neighborhood filled with sprawling homes and mansions with majestic old oak trees that line the yards and sidewalks. I enjoy the aesthetics as there is much character and charm with these homes and yards, as well as the sidewalks which are made of stone, concrete, and brick. Leaves had begun to fall from the trees and lay on the sidewalk adding to the anticipation of the fall season. I shuffled through the sidewalk hearing the crunching sound of dry leaves and acorns underneath my shoes. I took my usual route down the street and began my spiritual act of worship. The outdoors has meaning to me. Being outside has always been a form of internal healing, mind relaxation, intellectual creativity, and physical release. It is during these times I lay down my burdens with every step I take along the way. Walking in the open outdoors are the most precious times of my day where I am equally open in my conversations with my Divine Creator.  

An anomaly. A deviation to the standard, to the normal, to the eye and to the sound. To the average path or pace of the world and humanity. Everywhere I go, everywhere I am, is somewhere, some place, or some part of me, that is a deviation from what is known the world over. I am an anomaly it seems, a deviation to life and to myself. To live as normal, to have as normal, is contrary to the anomaly of me, my substance, and my existence in this world. I do not recognize the world I live in, nor does it recognize me. I do not fit and it does not fit me. As though I am a reject among this earthly terrain. I have continued to travel down a path completely in another direction. It feels so cruel. Who do I live for, if I do not live for myself? How can I be fully known if I am in the constant motion of my travels not long enough to be known? Somehow I do not own this journey, it owns me. Yet I travel through the halls of the cosmic sphere by the mere essence of grace. Grace carries my anomalaic travels to the unknown.

So I travel, as an anomaly traveler. The anomaly comes to others, not for oneself, and not of the self. The purpose for which is to meet a need, a lesson, a truth, an option, a possibility, unbeknownst to the other person. I search for the other side, whatever side that may be. I long for my removal and the world that encompasses me. I do not belong. It does not belong to me. There is no everlasting. People come to me and I wonder what is on the other side. Will I ever truly live my own life, my own desires, my own dreams apart from what life has me living for? What have I missed, or has it missed me? Was there a place I was meant to go long ago or was it meant to follow me? Am I writing my story or is someone else writing it for me? There is nothing that weighs me down except the world’s resistance from my own presence. An anomaly traveler, traveling through time and space to those who I am to be there for without anything in return. Traveling not of my choice but of someone else’s choosing.

And so, my life is an anomaly, as an anomaly traveler…

As I was approaching the end of my walk toward my residence and was about to cross the street, I saw a car stalled in the middle of the road. I didn’t think much of it so I crossed the street and stood on the esplanade while cars were passing by. I continued to watch what was happening and noticed it was a lady and a young girl, obviously a mother and her daughter in the car. The mother keep cranking the engine but it wasn’t starting. I knew then, this moment was meant for me, waiting for my arrival. Where they sent to me, or was I sent to them? So, I crossed the street and walked up to the passenger side of the car and motioned for the daughter to roll down the window. I asked what was wrong and if I could help in some way. The mother said no, but kept trying to start the car. The girl smiled at me and said they were on their way to her homecoming game and proudly showed me the mum on her arm. I said to her “you’ll get to your game.” So I stretched out my arm and held out my hand toward them and said aloud, “in the name of Jesus Christ, this car will start.” Immediately, the car started. The mother was stunned and the daughter sat up straight, looked at me with the biggest smile and said “Wow that was cool!” Her mother asked me if there was a place they could go and pull over to look at directions to her daughter’s game and I pointed down the street and told them to drive past the intersection, and turn to the right into the shopping center I felt was safe. I also said out loud, “Lord, let them go to all the places they need to be and get them home safely tonight.” Looking at the girl I said, “you will make your game tonight.” She smiled brightly and they said goodbye. I stood at the corner and watched them drive down the road like a mother looking after her children.

As I walked away, I knew yet again, that I do not own my life, but someone else does. Where that someone is, I am there, too. An anomaly traveler.

And Jesus said to the disciples…

He who loves his life loses it and he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there shall My servant also be; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” (John 12: 25-26)

The Greeks approached a few of the disciples and asked to see Jesus. Jesus answered them explaining that the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. To understand this, we have to reach back to verse 24 when He was speaking of His imminent death and said “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains by itself alone; but if it does, it bears much fruit.” Christ is the grain of wheat and His death would produce fruit and result in believers living for Him. His death is symbolized by the grain of wheat which introduces the subject conveyed in verse 25.

In verse 25 Jesus said “He who loves his life loses it.” He was referring to those who love the world. In this regard, loving the world could mean a love for the material aspects of life or idolizing people in a way that demonstrates a love of preference for this world rather than a preference in the things of God. As a result, worldly matters take precedence over spiritual matters. In so doing, a life without Christ is no life at all. To this extent, a person may never come to salvation in Christ and would lose his or her life eternally.

However, Jesus said “…he who hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.” Does Jesus mean “hate” in the way we understand “hate?” No. The word “hate” means to “love less.” For one to love less his or her life, means that the things of life do not have priority to serving Christ. Therefore, a person who hates his life in this world means they have come to salvation and exalts Christ above all matters in life, and results in life eternal.

Jesus goes on to say, “If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me, and where I am, there shall My servant also be.” When someone loves less their life, they follow Him and thus serve Him.  They cannot do anything else but to follow and serve Christ, there is no other. Life can lose its meaning to the point there is no serving oneself or one’s purpose. It is, in a spiritual sense, a dying to self, and a death to life. The end result is following and serving Christ with such a love for Him that one loses the love for self, hates life, and is committed to following Him wherever He goes. Such servitude to Christ means that where He is you will be there also with Him. With Him in the Spirit in this life and with Him in eternity.

Lastly, Jesus said “if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” In other words, as a servant of Christ, the servant follows Christ unto death. That is, a spiritual death to self, and thus death in this life to gain a life eternal. Such a sacrificial death results in being honored by the Father. It is a recompense for pain and suffering and losses in this world as a result of hating one’s life and following Christ in service to Him. The Father will honor the one who serves His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. It is an honor the Father bestows on a servant that is true and lasting for eternity.

My life is not my own. It is an anomaly. For many, many years as I have continued to follow my Christ, my life has been interesting. There are many things that do not make sense to me and I have yet to find the answers that I have been looking for. Though it may seem that I travel, it is that I travel for someone else or something else. Never seemingly to be for my own purpose but for another purpose.  In my travels I search for my soul within a soul. The soul of myself and of my other self that has been created for the purpose of Christ in our lives. My soul is in servitude to my Soul Maker.

Where Christ is I am there also. So I travel. Traveling through the cosmic sphere in this life for the unknown and to that unbeknownst to me.  

His path is my path. Where He travels, I travel there also. An anomaly traveler.

Copyright @ 2021. The Word in Motion

Photocredit: from the Hubble Space Telescope

Anomaly Traveler: John 12: 25-26 Part I of II

I wonder what my destination will bring. Prone to the gypsy life I have no home, I’ve known of no home, I can’t seem to find it, and it has yet to find me. Though I keep searching for my final place of rest I keep hoping, I keep going. Looking for the arms I can settle in and lay down this armor only to begin.

Am I here for you or are you here for me? Answer please? When will I know it? I can’t seem to know it. I can’t feel it. Am I travelling for you or do you travel for me and to me? Will you ever make yourself known, when will it be?

Will I ever know the other side of which I travel? Or will it know me, come to me, and find me in its safety? Time, time, and time again, not knowing what will come next or who it might be. My lost and restless soul looking for its other soul. What else is my soul for? As if one soul for another equal and captivating soul. Will there be a word of farewell or a lasting embrace? Or must my travels leave it this way?

Does my past speak of my future? I long to travel beyond what I’ve known rather than some used to be. How life seems to be so unkind. My soul keeps turning in the hands of the unknown, will you see me, will you leave me, is there time to grow?

Strangers come. What will they bring? I bring to it and what will it render? Life as I know it has become a life I have never known. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I dream of a future life beyond all my life. Will it ever be?

My soul against this world and the world against my soul. My soul can hardly stand it. My restless soul travelling through the halls of the cosmic sphere. My soul searching for its other soul. There must be something better than this. But I cannot find it. It has yet to come. Or come the way I thought it should be.

Traveling to the next place, without an itinerary and without a trace. I must depart now, there is much I must do. What may appear as right may be for a moment. Oh my soul, my soul within a soul. There is only one soul for my soul. How else could our souls exist unless they existed before? Pulling me in with such gravitational force. I am he and he is I, we are one and we are I. Love began before time, before time travel. Yet time had to come for our souls to be one.

Where he is I am there also. My travels are his and his are mine. Our souls travel in infinite time. Created for one another, for each other, there is nothing else that satisfies.

An anomaly traveler.

Part II Coming soon

Copyright @ The Word in Motion. 2021

Photocredit: from the Hubble Space Telescope

“Returning Home: Strength in the Familiar” – Ruth 1: 19-22

Part 2 of 2

“Come home.”

I did. Returning home to the familiar gave me strength. My father’s words led me to a place of my beginnings when I had joy, when I was free, when I was loved, and when I was me.

Much more came from that experience that are beyond words, thoughts, and emotions. Now thirty years later and I still have no answers for the reason or purpose of that experience. But it has been for a lifetime.  There has been seemingly no redemptive value as a result of that devastating blow to my young life. It has been as though everybody and everything from that church proved to be futile.

As some have said, nothing good can come from Nazareth. I have said, nothing good has come from that experience.

God usually reserves a remnant in the midst of utter destruction. So for decades I searched God for a remnant through it all. Each time there was none. Nothing. Older now, I know time will tell. Time tells all things.

Though I came to a place of forgiveness, the memories are still with me. At times my memory is provoked to remembrance. That experience shaped my view of religion, church, and people who call themselves Christian or even spiritual.

Why God allowed my joyful and innocent spirit to be broken has always perplexed me. I could have learned it another way. It could have come at another place or through another time. But to be so young to learn such a harsh reality unequipped to comprehend. I came to believe that my Almighty God was no longer with me. And just like the final wind of a dying person’s breath my spirit vacated.

My faith took an unrecognizable appearance. Close friends who knew nothing of this experience said I changed, lost my joy, and was not the same bubbly person they once remembered.

My strength came from home. There I was able to start over and live a new life apart from the tragedy that impacted me and my faith for the rest of my life.

I entered that experience full. Full of joy, expectation, and hope. By the time it was all concluded I left empty. Loss of joy, loss of faith, and a lesser hope. I detached from what was, what could have been and what could never happen again. I paved my own road, walked my own path, and formed my own faith. Determined that I could rewrite my future and never look back again.

Such as Naomi when she returned to Bethlehem…

Ruth 1: 19 – 22:

“So they both went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they had come to Bethlehem, all the city was stirred because of them, and the women said, “Is this Naomi?” But she said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?” So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess, her daughter-in-law, who returned from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest.”

During this time in history was a period of the Judges. Nations divided. Total anarchy. There was no central government. There were no Kings. Like warlords in the midst. It was a time of great apostasy.

Naomi just lost her husband and two sons. A devastating tragedy for anyone, but for a woman in those days even more so. It was a patriarchal culture. A woman had to be attached to a man. Now she is a widow and has no one to take care of her.  Her life was measured as a wife and being a mother to her two grown sons. They were everything to her. They were her source, her joy, and her strength. Though she was gifted with two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth, they were a detriment to her now. What could she give them? She has no sons. How could she take care of them? She has no husband. She was empty. Emptied of the life she once knew and the men she loved, to a desolate future with no horizon in sight.

So, Naomi and Ruth left Moab. Alone. Their destination was a sixty mile walk to Bethlehem. It must have been hard to fathom that God was at work when nothing apparently is taking place. God was as desolate as the circumstances that befell Naomi. To Naomi, this route was familiar when she and her husband Elimelech (meaning “God is King”) left Bethlehem to Moab when life was promising. And promising it was. Now some decades later, life was different. Naomi probably never thought she would do this again in reverse, and certainly not under these circumstances. The memories on the way back home to Bethlehem added to the strain of her loss. Too much to bear.

The walk was long and arduous, in the arid and dusty plains between Moab and Bethlehem. Naomi and Ruth made their way down a path of dryness which seemingly accompanied an equally dry existence. They were vulnerable to the elements as they walked alone. Ruth clinging to Naomi the entire way. Ruth wasn’t going to let her go. I imagine there were long periods of quietness between the two. Alone in their thoughts and recounting to themselves the memories of the good life and continued hope for the future. Her sons were married and the reminder there would be no grandchildren must have stung bitterly in Naomi’s heart. How devastating now to know that what was possible was impossible now. All hope was lost. Thoughts of what could have been were overcome by what was. Alone they walked, together, side by side. They could easily have been in harm’s way and taken advantaged of during that sixty mile walk but they traveled unnoticed the entire journey. An unmistakable trace of God.

Moab was a place of new beginnings for Naomi and her then husband. To leave behind her deceased husband and two sons must have been so painful. I imagine they wept their way to Bethlehem. Tears streaming down their faces not long enough before the dry heat soaked them up. Unbeknownst to Naomi and Ruth as they traveled out of Moab to Bethlehem they would soon be received by God’s loyal love.

Finally, Naomi and Ruth arrived in Bethlehem. However, the city was stirred at their arrival. Soon they were met with question.

The women said, Is this Naomi?” Naomi replied, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty. Why do you call me Naomi, since the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has afflicted me?”It was a sincere appraisal of her own loss.

It’s a bit hard to detect whether the women were being sarcastic or genuine. Nonetheless, they remembered her as if to say “you’ve returned to Bethlehem, what brings you home?” Though Naomi was recognizable, she was unrecognizable in her circumstances or perhaps her new countenance was reflective of the great loss she endured. Naomi and her husband must have caused a commotion to have left Bethlehem to Moab when there was a famine in the land, only for her to return some decades later. At that time they chose to go beyond the borders and into another country to live and become a part of that culture though they chose not to worship pagan gods.

Naomi was clear and quick to inform them of her new name “Mara,” meaning bitter. She named herself based on her circumstances. She took on the countenance of bitterness that she bore the words as well. Sixty miles is long enough to make conscious changes in the mind and the soul. The concept of fullness-emptiness expressed by Naomi is a Hebrew parallelism device used to heighten the expression of her own emotions. Once again, Naomi compounds the fact in her mind that the Almighty has judged her and afflicted her.

So Naomi returned, and with her Ruth the Moabitess her daughter-in-law, from the land of Moab. And they came to Bethlehem at the beginning of barley harvest. Barley was the first crop to ripen in Israel and this period would mark the start of the harvest season. It was a sign that the famine in Bethlehem no longer existed and there was much to receive. Naomi’s return was symbolic – to Bethlehem, meaning “house of bread.” It was a pivotal move. Here was the return, a concept all too familiar with the Israelites in their history with God. The exception though is that a Moabite has joined the return as well. Ruth. A small story in the middle of the Judges.

Bethlehem was home and Naomi would be strengthened in the familiar. But there was more to this story.

A cynic’s story versus God’s story. Only He writes the story.

Copyright @ The Word in Motion. 2021

Photocredit: The author’s own. July 1987. The author and her father.

“Returning Home: Strength in the Familiar” – Ruth 1: 19-22

Part 1 of 2

It was the fall semester of my freshman year in college when I arrived on campus in the middle of west Texas. Fall came early in contrast to my home town, as the weather was cool and dry with beautiful blue skies. I was filled with hopeful dreams and excitement as I began to settle in with campus life. I was anxious to discover what my new found independence would soon render me. The semester was well underway and sure enough I missed being with my parents. I began to think of ways to express my love for them while I was away from home. Across the street from campus there was a long stretch of various stores that lined nearly the entire south side of the campus. So I decided to take a walk across the street and look at the stores. Eventually, I walked up to a gift shop, opened the door, and was greeted by a very nice lady. The lady at the store was helpful as I explained to her I was looking for a gift for my parents. Soon, I found the perfect present. The lady was friendly, thoughtful, and seemed drawn to me. We talked for a long time and eventually she invited me to join her and a friend for dinner. I gladly accepted.  

They both stopped by my dormitory and picked me up in a little red truck and off we went to a local restaurant for dinner. I was taken by their warmness toward me and seeming transparency as they shared their lives with stories of the past. They both appeared genuinely interested in me and my life by the curious questions they asked. Soon after dinner, they asked me if I had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “Of course”, I responded, and I began to share my personal testimony. They were happy to hear of this news and immediately invited me to visit their church, which interestingly enough, was walking distance from campus. The following Sunday they picked me up in the little red truck and drove me to the church. Everyone was warm and friendly. We walked downstairs to the basement of the building where they held service and was greeted by a tall man with blonde hair and the most radiant smile I had ever seen. His name was Doug and was the church greeter. To me, Doug reminded me of a game show host. He was tall and his face knew no smile. He handed me a program, welcomed me to the church, and held my gaze with a mile long smile as bright as the sun’s reflection upon a freshly fallen winter snow.

What I remember most were all the hugs. Those hugs! I was amazed how everyone hugged me so openly and freely. I was not one that shared hugs with other people and so it felt odd at first. Those hugs took on a new meaning of which I was unfamiliar, that is, guys and girls had to hug from the side rather than the front. I was baffled. What was it with these sideways hugs? Isn’t a hug defined by the front rather than the side? A side hug didn’t seem like a hug but rather a sheepish way to express a hug from the opposite sex. I later learned that a side hug was the surest way to not let your brother stumble. I thought to myself, “stumble from what?” I was eighteen years old and had a lot to learn by the rules of these church brethren.

Overtime, a lot of conversations ensued and friendships were formed with many of the women and men I met. It seemed right to me that I was blessed to be in such wonderful company. In time, one of the friends asked me to move into their house with other women from the church as it would serve a better environment for me than on-campus housing. It sounded like a nice offer and so I accepted.

As the months continued there were little things that occurred which I found odd. Such as, I couldn’t attend a church gathering if my arms were showing without someone draping me with a sweater or a coat to cover up. During that time I loved to work-out at the recreational center. The smell of the gym and the weights were intoxicating to me and only added to the fervor of my work-outs. I was constantly weight-lifting and putting time in the gym. As a result I was criticized for spending time improving my fitness. In addition, I was a full-time student in college and was taking quite a few classes during the fall and spring semester as well as summer. A couple of women at the church had begun talking me out of going to college and consider devoting all of my time to the church and their bible study groups. There were many other things that ensued but overall it became a period of judgment toward me that I was labeled an uncommitted Christian. Eventually, the word spread to the point one day I was at the church and someone told me they heard that I became “uncommitted.” This was a difficult situation for me as I did not understand what was happening to me. It was obvious that these relationships were no longer friendships and something was going to change. What changed was me. My parents had called me during that summer and they could tell that something was wrong and I was not doing well in my living environment with these supposed friends. So they decided to drive 500 plus miles to visit me.

The weekend came when my parents were scheduled to arrive at the house I had been living in. I made sure my roommates were gone to their various events and had the entire house to myself. I packed up the few belongings I had and set them in the middle of the living room while I sat on the couch waiting for my parents. Things were set and I waited anxiously for their arrival hoping none of my roommates would return. The coast was clear for me to make my final escape as the ultimate exit without a trace.

Soon my parents drove up to the house and they walked toward the porch and rang the doorbell. Both my mother and father entered. My mother took a look around and with disappointment walked out and headed toward the car. My father looked bewildered as he scoped the inside of this house. I could tell he wasn’t pleased. He asked “what kind of place is this?” “You don’t need to be living here.” My father was a wise and experienced man and had that fatherly sense to know that the house I was living in was not suitable for his daughter. I walked up to him and we hugged. I was so relieved to be in my father’s arms. In a few short words he said something that was so profound to me I never forgot. He said “come home.”

“Come home.” I could feel the emotion resonating from his words and the love he had for me. He wanted me in a safe and loving environment that was suited for his daughter. A place that he was responsible for and created for me and my family that was worthy of my care and rest. “Come home” meant to not leave my future plans or dreams, but a place to securely lay my heart and be accepted once again for who I was and will always be. Home was a place to reconnect to what mattered to me and what I mattered to it. Coming home was my confident source of well-being. Coming home was a light to my beginning and the path to my end. And so the moment came when I returned home to the familiar. It was then I gained the strength I so dearly needed. 

Part 2: Coming soon in August 2021

Copyright @ The Word in Motion. 2021

Photocredit: The author’s own. July 1987. The author and her father.

Easter 2021: What could have been – Jesus called the Christ Matthew 27: 22-26

In our lives, have we dared to go places we never knew were there? Have we looked at the past in view of the future and does it seems like another world? Familiar, and yet so far away. To see ourselves now in light of ourselves back then looks like what could have been.

What could have been had we chosen another road, walked another path, said a certain word, taken a different stance.

I do not know if life as we know it, and as I see it, was supposed to be this way. I imagine a greater thing beyond what is in front of me, and yet it seems behind me, and yet it is all that I know.

Is there something more than what we have? Is there someone more than what we’ve known? Is there some place still left to go?

If we were supposed to be? Or to do with or for another would that be true in return? My restless Spirit is restless in some other self?

Were there dreams not pursued, were there dreams diminished, were there dreams unattained, for what could have been?

God gives people wide boundaries to choose and to live. He gives room to make decisions and follow our paths and to live our lives. Yet, does this mean we are living a life according to His will and desire? He allows so much. Though our choices may seem good for the moment they may not be good in the future, but we do not know until all is said and done.

Most people live in the moment and make decisions based on the present time, rather than the future in mind. Yes, some make decisions based on a future unknown to forsake a future present. To understand the deeper spiritual meaning in making decisions we must truly come to know the decisions God has made for our lives. Though our paths are written are we writing them? Human rationalization and “meant to be” are unconscious choices that we call faith.

So what could have been should have been and can no longer be. But can it no longer be?

Had we not gone our own way but waited for longer days, what could have been?

When we spoke out of fear rather than out of love, what could have been?

Instead of words untold than with actions shown, what could have been?

Rather than question only to settle for our own answers, what could have been?

To bless another in the moment than to not and lament it, what could have been?

And so it is…

“Pilate said to them “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let Him be crucified!” And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying “Let Him be crucified!” and when Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children!” Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he delivered Him to be crucified.”

(Matthew 27: 22-26)

What could have been had God not sent His son to the world?

What could have been had Pilate released Jesus who is called Christ?

What could have been that Jesus who is called Christ not been crucified for our sins?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not loved the entire world?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not resurrected on the third day?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not ascended to heaven?

What could have been had Jesus called Christ not imparted His Spirit to indwell followers of Him?

It is unimaginable to think what could have been. But what could have been for our lives is what is because Jesus Christ our Lord loves each of us so that we may have eternal life.

He rectifies and reconciles us from our choices and our paths and our lives. In Him all is found, restored, regained and redeemed.

He makes what could have been possible again to those who believe and follow Him.

He rose, He ascended, and He is making intersession for us at the right hand of the Father our God.

In Him, what could have been, was to be, and is to come again, forevermore.  

Copyright 2021. The Word in Motion.

Photocredit: At the campus of Dallas Theological Seminary. Dallas, Texas. 2011.

“Doubting or Believing: Come a little closer” Thomas the Disciple – John 20: 24-29

Over the course of my life I have experienced many challenges. Often, I was faced with whether or not to believe for a hopeful outcome. In many instances, I did not receive what I was hoping for, and other instances I did. Each challenge was a blueprint of its own demonstrating God’s unique way of bringing about a matter that never duplicated anything else before.

It was a day many years ago when my mother informed me that she had a terminal illness. Those words were so difficult to hear, but were even more difficult for her to say. The thought of this devastating illness taking her life was more than I could bear. She was my mother, and the only confidant in my life. There was no other woman as wise, genuine, and loving toward me than her. I have fond memories visiting my parent’s house on Sunday afternoons. I would join my mother in the backyard, underneath the patio cover with a glass of tea, and we would sit and talk for hours. I miss those days and even more so as the years have passed.

In time, she walked her final journey in life. I never knew another human being as brave as my mother. She did so with an unmistakable grace that most people did not recognize what she was going through.

While I hoped for a hopeful outcome, it was hard to believe. There were times when I doubted. Despite what I could not see, I still had to believe. What I came to realize was that in my mother’s journey was my own journey with God.

Whether doubting or believing, I had to come a little closer…to Him.

Such as the disciple Thomas…

“But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

The other disciples therefore were saying to him, “we have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then He said to Thomas, “reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.”

Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”

(John 20: 24 – 29)

Prior to this event, the gospel writer John addresses the issue of unbelief and how it culminated in Jesus’s crucifixion. Jesus’s enemies did not believe that He was the Messiah. In addition, John addresses the disciples’ developing faith which leads to the moment between Jesus and the disciple Thomas.

In verse 25, the disciples were together exclaiming they had seen the risen Lord. Thomas was not with them when the resurrection took place. Upon hearing the other disciples, Thomas was not convinced. He was skeptical. He needed bodily proof of the resurrected Christ. He said… “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

Thomas was unique in this matter because he had not witnessed the risen Christ. Much can be said of the disciples and the lessons Jesus taught them. Throughout the gospels the disciples had personal moments of diminished faith even as they walked among Christ and were witnesses to His miracles. Still, a resurrected Christ may be difficult to believe, particularly if it had not been seen. What must be understood is that the twelve disciples, including Thomas, represent the personally developing faith in all of our lives. It has to develop and grow based on our experiences and the lessons learned from our lives with God.

I can identify with Thomas. He was analytical and perhaps it was his nature to question, probe, and validate that which was before him. Particularly if one is accustomed to disappointment and rejection that clear and concise proof is needed. There is no doubt that Jesus’s death on the cross must have been painful and sorrowful to the disciples that were left behind. Then to hear that Christ resurrected from the dead had to be anything but believable. Thomas was not the type to readily accept information without verifying the source and the context. In this moment, Thomas needs convincing proofs in order to believe.

Verse 26 says after eight days Jesus appeared miraculously behind closed doors where the disciples had gathered, including Thomas. Upon declaring His peace to the disciples He turns His attention to Thomas.

In verse 27, Jesus says to Thomas“…reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” Here our loving Savior shows compassion toward Thomas by meeting him in his unbelief. At this pivotal moment Thomas declares “My Lord and my God!” He believed.

Jesus says in verse 29 “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” Jesus speaks of the blessings given to all of those who believe in Him and yet have not seen Him, ever, whether prior to His death or in the risen substance of His deity.

Much has been said about the disciple Thomas who has been known as “doubting Thomas.” As though asking questions, seeking clarity, or some kind of evidence is not the hallmark of being a follower of Christ. We all have had our moments of a certain unbelief, or inability to believe. Some challenges in life are more difficult than others and so it may result in a moment of unbelief. Unbelief may be as a result of disappointment, weariness, rejection, fear of failure, or years and years of waiting on God without indications otherwise.

When Jesus Christ was crucified on the cross we were not there. Yet, we believe. We as His followers believe He died on the cross, was resurrected and lives today as our Savior and Lord. Even so, for the most experienced followers of Christ there are moments in life when it may be difficult to believe.

During the years of my mother’s illness, I often felt I was carrying the burden of her life in mine. My believing in the risen Son of God to heal my mother was a load worth my carrying but there were times when it became too much. The heaviness of the emotional and spiritual burden weighed down my ability to believe, at times, that God had a better outcome. What I learned during that time was in order to minister to my mother’s needs I had to come to a higher source.

Though I believed, I had to believe more and come a little closer…

As I looked into the eyes of my God, I came to see His presence. In so doing, I came to see my reflection bathed within His eyes. I knew the journey had begun. Like a father looking into his child’s eyes knowing how precious and knowing she is mine.

As I walked toward my God, I came to feel His presence. In so doing, I came to sense I was closer. His presence radiated around me, and His Spirit felt more familiar. Like a close friend that is there even when they aren’t there.

As I stood in front of my God, I came to know His presence. In so doing, I came to know I was closer. His garment drenched with crimson stains became familiar as He adorned it upon me . Like a man that I loved He draped Himself around me for the long walk home.

As I reached out to touch my God and place my finger upon His hand I could see the gaping hole that pierced Him deeply. In so doing, I came to sense I was closer. The mark on His hand were like marks that penetrated my soul. Like a void that cannot be filled were that His mark became my scars always there and forever willed.

As I reached out with my hand to touch my God on His tender side, I could feel a hollowed wound so gaping wide. In so doing, I came to know I was closer. The wound on His side became His life for mine. Like my protector until the sweet bye and bye.

As I came a little closer to Him, I came to know, to understand, and to believe in the Son of God who is all things and is to come.

To believe in Him, I had to come a little closer, to know that what was in my hands ultimately rested in His pierced hands and the wounded side of Him.

And in my journey, all doubt was removed, and believing in Him. I knew then, my risen Savior whom I believed and settled in.

There is nothing wrong with doubting, or unbelief. In our human condition we all will be challenged with what we believe, how we believe, and in whom we believe. The disciple Thomas serves as our example of the human condition. Though doubt and unbelief may arise we must come a little closer toward Christ. We must seek the risen Christ so that we may believe.

In essence, Thomas had to come a little closer to the risen Christ not only to see, but ultimately to believe. It is during these times, Christ is inviting us to come closer to Him. As we come closer to Him we are able to see Him in all His glory as the risen Savior and Lord.

Copyright @ 2020. The Word in Motion

Photocredit: The author’s own.

“Motivated by Love: Do you love Me?” Peter the Disciple – John 21: 15-17

It was a time, some time ago. A time beheld, and a time untold. It was a time of another time. As though time would be no longer be mine. In it I could not have it. In it I could not behold it. Time was slipping from my hands. If only there be another chance, a second chance for a glory of its own. Time was in my soul as a story yet to unfold.

There came a gift, an offering from the heart. I remembered my past and thought of my present. I imagined a dream as though given the breath of the present time. Which path would I choose, and which path would God choose. I was filled with indecision with the decision I would soon make. A life I longed to see. A life I imagined that would be. I had been here before. Each side of my future and I in between.

As I sought my Lord and my God I heard the words, “do you love Me?”

I knew what this meant. I remembered the disciple Peter…

“So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these? He said to Him, Yes, Lord; You know that I love you. He said to him, Tend my lambs.

He said to him again a second time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? He said to Him, Yes Lord; You know that I love You. He said to him, Shepherd My sheep.

He said to him the third time, Simon, son of John, do you love Me? Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, Do you love Me? And he said to Him, Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You. Jesus said to him, Tend My sheep.”

(John 21: 15 – 17)

By the time Jesus and the disciple Peter had this conversation, Peter already had denied Christ three times (John 18: 17, 25, 27). Here, there was a dialogue representing a threefold commission that stood in contrast to the threefold denials previously made by Peter regarding Christ.

In verse 15, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him more than the disciples among them and Peter said “yes” and turned it back to Jesus by saying “you know that I love you.”

The tenderness of Christ in this dialogue is that He knew the denials were due to Peter’s weakness as a human being. Could we ever be so fortunate to get a second chance that God would give us a third chance? This was not a private conversation between Christ and the disciple Peter but it was open and transparent. Unknowing to Peter, it was more than just a lesson on love, but ultimately it would reveal Christ’s establishment of Peter the Apostle as the rock on which the Church would be established by the inferences to tending and shepherding His sheep.

Yes, God knows all things, everything. There is not one thought or action that is unbeknownst to Him or beyond His knowing. He knows the beginning from the end, and the end from the beginning. He knows you and me. We are His creation and so He is intimately aware of us, our inclinations, and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. Christ knew the answers before Peter responded. He did not ask because He did not know. He asked for Peter’s sake so that Peter would know and be reminded of his own self in light of his past.

I imagine through the exchange, by the third question, that Peter became grieved not only because of Jesus’s repetitive questioning, but perhaps thoughts of his past denials must have infiltrated his mind, hence his saying “You know all things.” Oh how those denials were painful and bitter for Peter to remember. His denials weren’t because he did not love Christ, or longed to follow Him and His ways. Absolutely Peter loved Christ! What this was about were the motivations of Peter’s love for Christ. Was it a dying devotion toward Christ that caused Him to deny Christ? Or was it frail humanness in Peter’s personhood that had yet to be sifted out by the humility of knowing, following, and laying down his life for Christ? When we are confronted with painful memories as a result of our decisions we become humble with the fact that we are just who we are, mere mortal, weak, and in need of the Christ to lead us in everything we do.

In the book “The Cost of Discipleship” author Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.” Peter was called to be the head of the Church, and ultimately gave his life for Christ and was martyred. With such reverence and love for Christ he asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same position as did his Savior Christ on the cross.

There are many who profess to love Christ, but so few are those who truly live a life for the love of Christ. Be it that it may, only His chosen ones will be asked “do you love Me?”

There comes a time in the life of God’s chosen ones where He brings us to the edge of the spear, a challenge of a kind, a split in the road, when He tests our hearts. The greatest test of our heart is on the very thing we value. It could be many things. God only knows, and yes He knows.

At the end of his life, Peter did more than profess his love for Christ. He became an Apostle and laid down his life for His Savior so that the world would know and follow the Christ he had come to love so dearly. So when I heard the words “do you love Me?” I understood. In the end, I denied myself and the future I could have had in return for the future I yet do not know, but for the love I have for my Christ and Savior.

It is as though God is challenging us to get it right. Right for Him and therefore right for us. He wants what is right. He wants our hearts. We do not know what is on the other side of it when we choose Christ out of love for Him above anything else. Peter did not know he would become an Apostle to the witness of Christ and head of the Church. No matter how old you are, whether in your youthful age, or later in your wiser years, the test of love will come from God your Father.

Though we may believe we are motivated by love, above all it is God who is motivated by love to bring us to the place where we must be able to deny ourselves out of love for Him our Lord.

Copyright 2020 The Word in Motion.

Photocredit: The author’s own.