On Wheat and Weeds…

44371121_sThere’s a somewhat convoluted tale related in the Scriptures about a farmer who plants good seed in a large field.  However, as the seedlings begin to mature and ripen for harvest, it becomes apparent that the field has been contaminated.  Weeds (tares) are everywhere! With dismay, the workers who have labored diligently face the prospect of ruining the harvest.  The weeds are competing with the plants for nutrients, but if they are removed, the harvest will be ruined because the crops are not yet fully matured. (Matthew 13:24-30 KJV)

This crisis becomes an issue for the Master whose advise is sought regarding what to do.  As the Householder (as he is referenced in some versions) surveys the damage, he gives an interesting assessment.  First of all, he zeros in on the one responsible for the corruption.  ‘An enemy has done this’.  This damage is not a result of a lack of diligence or laziness on the part of the workers.  Rather, it is deliberate, mean-spirited and intended to cause harm.

This story came to mind recently as I contemplated the difficulty of setting things right, especially when these issues have become habits or patterns of thought and behavior that have been in place for a long time.  Not every issue that we face can be solved instantly.  Sometimes, the chaos is so deeply embedded within the psyche that healing requires more than simply applying standard or seemingly straightforward solutions.

There are issues in life which involve different parties, some which may be unwilling or unable to make wise choices.  Going in with the sledge hammer of human judgement can do more harm than good because discrimination is required when sorting out the solution.  Evil is not always obvious.  Nor is the task of determining who is the perpetrator versus the victim always clearly defined.

The fact is that we have all sinned.  We are all to some degree a mixed bag of tares and wheat.  When Jesus confronts a woman who has been caught in adultery and brought to him to pronounce judgement, he turns the table and asks the expectant crowd to cast the stones, but with the caveat that the first stone must be thrown by one who has never sinned.  Beginning with the oldest, the crowd begins to disperse. (John 8: 1-11)

Which brings me back to the wheat and tares.  The work of the Spirit of God here on earth is to gather the tares in our lives.  It is through grace, that we are even brought to an awareness of how deeply the soil of our souls has been contaminated.  As God matures us into his likeness, he uses various agents to identify and bundle together that which is not fit for healthy consumption.

I used to think that this parable only related to the end of time, but I see that the work of the Kingdom of God is ongoing, starting here and earth and on to eternity.  God loves us too much to simply let us be.  Just as spring time and harvest will continue, in the same way this process is ongoing in our lives and as we cooperate in listening and yielding to God’s inspired instruction will enable a true harvest of righteousness in our lives.  So within the despair of a life which seems to be so imperfect, there is really good news.  God is able, God is willing to perfect that which concerns me and you if we will let him.

No worries…

One of my son’s has a seemingly favorite saying, it’s ‘No Worries’.  It is a reminder to me that worry is something that we can choose to say ‘No’ to.  Worry revolves around the past and the future, both of which are phantoms in the sense that they have already ceased to exist or are yet to manifest.  Spending time in worry and agitating is a grandiose waste of time.

There are always invitations to enter into these types of activities and conversations.  In fact, one such opportunity dropped in on me today via a phone call.  I could sense the irritation and angst, all over realities which had not yet manifested.  A potentially nasty argument in formation and rapidly escalating into a sure depletion of energy…

Somehow, something inside me said, ‘Stop! – No Worries’.  It takes an intentional effort to clear the mind and choose to be in the one and only place we can ever really be, which is the present.  Blessings to you today for the gift of presence during this time of remembrance and gratitude for the sacrifice for those who have given their life, time and treasure in service to our nation.
Presence

A Pardox: Seeing Eyes Blind, Blind Eyes See

6974974_sWhen you flip open your eyelids in the morning and take stock of your environment, you have actually completed an exceptional feat; one which most of us take for granted. The body is a marvelous instrument.  The process by which light is projected into the eye and reflected back through a complex interaction between the brain, nerve impulses and the various chambers of the eye is truly amazing.

It is also unique to each individual.  While all of us may be looking at the same scene, we do not all see things in the same way.  The interpretation which occurs in each of us gives us a peculiar vantage point.  Our communication reflects this reality when we say things like, “I see that differently than you do.”

The ability to see is not limited to the physical realm.  We are in our essence spiritual beings.  We can also see with the eyes of our spirit, an ability which is sometimes referred to as our intuition.  We have all experienced to varying degrees an instinctive reaction to an individual when we first meet them that has nothing to do with our personal interactions.  Mothers know when something is wrong with a child even when the baby cannot speak.

This morning, my meditation was from one of the books which chronicled the exploits of various ancient Israeli kings and the prophets who operated during their reigns.  I was reading about a military assault against Israel by the army from Aram.  As the campaign gained traction, the King of Aram soon became uncomfortably aware that his plans and movements seemed to be closely monitored and communicated with the King of Israel.  Convinced that there was a traitor in his camp, he confronted his leaders.  They told him that Elisha, a prophet literally had ‘eyes on the inside’ and this was the reason why the King of Aram’s plans were continually revealed in advance to the King of Israel.

Elisha was not physically present, yet he could see realities that were unseen.  The King and his army thought they saw. They were convinced that Israel was in a pitiful state and would easily succumb to the vastness of their military might.  In a fascinating twist, the tables are turned in a most improbable way.  As the army of Aram begins to march towards Israel, Elisha’s servant cries out in dismay because his physical eyes see the destruction which is about to be visited on them.

But Elisha asks God to open his servants eyes.  Eyes that seemed to be open, but were actually blind.  When the servants eyes were opened, he was stunned to see that the army coming against Israel was nothing in comparison to the spiritual army that was guarding Israel.  The story ends with the army being struck with blindness and led by Elisha right into the presence of the King they thought they had come to capture!

The experience of both the army and the servant of Elisha are symbolic of situations which we experience.  We are prone to being blinded by arrogance and pride like the soldiers and by fear like Elisha’s servant.  Both types of blindness are rooted in ignorance of who God is and how he operates.  The Bible tells us that the ‘Fear of God is the beginning of wisdom’.  When blind eyes are opened, we become aware of how truly helpless our situation is without God and how powerful God is within our midst.  He is truly able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond what we could even think of, see or imagine.

Right seeing operates through different filters.  These are the filters of wisdom, love, compassion and grace.  Right seeing enables us to have the courage and boldness to fulfill God’s purpose for our lives with confidence that He is able to see us through.

In the final scene from the story as the King of Israel finds himself faced with an entire army that has effectively surrendered to him, Elisha helps him to see that the right response is not vengeance, but to bless those who are enemies of Israel with kindness and a meal, sending them home unharmed.

During a time in which our nation is inflamed by the hurt of racism and perceived injustice, and many are viewing  through lenses clouded by hurt and hate, let us pray that we be given the grace to see aright. That we have the courage and boldness to  enact that which brings wholeness and healing rather than division and strife.

To Read the entire story of the Elisha and the army from Aram, click here. (2 Kings 6: 8-22)

 

Into ‘me’ see ~ The Gift of Intimacy

2846006325_9ea3b4998e_bTo see & to be seen are some of the most precious gifts in life. The gift of clear sight allows us to have a unique understanding and appreciation.

When it is obstructed or weakened, our view becomes distorted resulting in false perceptions.  Without correction, we eventually become blind.

When we see another with clarity, we precieve who they are. Like the American Indian proverb says, ‘you don’t really know a man until you have walked a mile in his moccasins’.

 Right seeing of another human being requires the ability to look through the lens of compassion and understanding.  These two filters are vital.  Without them, the lens of human judgement tends to err by causing us to see what we want to see, what we’d like to see or what we think we’re seeing.

One of the most precious gifts the Heavenly Father gives to us is the fact that he sees us and hears us.  I remember the story of the servant girl, Hagar who was sent away with her son Ishmael to die in the desert after Sarah, Abraham’s wife drove her away from the household.  Parched with thirst and dreading the inevitability of watching her son die from thirst, she is met by a God who sees her the desperate need for physical water.  Her encounter with God not only challenges her fear and despair but brings spiritual refreshment to a soul which had been used and rejected and shores up a future destiny which seemed compromised beyond redemption.

Into that darkness, the God who sees and hears speaks hope and destiny to a situation which seemed hopeless. The gift of being seen is a refreshing cleansing that gently sheds the outer mask to reveal the vital beauty and incredible core of complexity within the human spirit. When one experiences this, it is like the soul is freed to simply be.  Because it knows that the true core essence has been recognized.  Where normal sight only perceived a forsaken mother and son duo, God saw the budding seed of a great nation in a young man who would become a skilled archer.

To truly see and to be seen require courageous fortitude. Because our fear of the unknown and the unexpected are some of the most formidable obstacles to insight known to man.  The challenge of an excellent life, is to be willing to not only see, but to be seen.  There is a vulnerability to allowing ourselves to simply be seen for who we are, not what we prefer to reveal.  God’s grace invites us to enter into relationship and to receive with humility, the gift of intimacy – into me see. Where our souls are free to be.

Read the full text of the story of Hagar here.