Mediation Seven – (Andrew Manning)
*“Somewhere between my heart and my hands”* ( Mark Hall)
Today is the 20th day of Lent. The middle of Lent. Whatever you have applied your mind to this Lent, it has hopefully started to have an influence on your habits and your thinking. My prayer is that what you have on your heart, will have started to influence your actions.
Today we be a good opportunity to reflect on what we have covered so far and allow ourselves to reorientate our thinking. Very often we see the 40 days in the wilderness, the 40 years in the desert as a negative experience, but the whole point of our Lenten focus on the temptations of Jesus, is that he overcame them and that we can too, when we live in Christ and with Christ and through Christ, we can overcome the temptations of life.
For the purposes of today’s meditation: To live by bread alone, is to live for the physical and carnal things – to serve God only, means to live our lives out of the wisdom and giftedness that he has given us and for His purposes as opposed to our own selfish desires for power and status; and to put the Lord your God to the test, means to use your position as a Child of God to save your own soul alone.
By his incarnation , Jesus removes all delusions that life is just a spiritual experience and that the flesh is the enemy. We are to take our physical needs seriously and care about our health and our personal wellbeing, but not at the cost of others. The things of our hearts must have expression in our hands. We cannot just believe we need to act. (James 2:26). We should not be selfish in meeting our daily physical needs. Furthermore we exist not for our own well- being, but to do the will of the Father, to love our neighbour, to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with our God. ( Micah 6:8)
We pray the Lord’s pray saying thy Kingdom come, but all too often, we want God’s Kingdom so that “my will be done.” Having a servant heart means that everything that we do is to build the Kingdom, is obedient to God and glorifies Him.
There is no greater balancing act, no more profound middle, than the difference between ‘trusting God’ and ‘testing God.’ Simplistically, we trust God when we desire that he does things in our lives for Him, and we test God when we desire that God does things in our lives for us. Our Salvation is to be used for God’s work in the world not just for our entrance into heaven. Salvation is not just so that we are saved from the power of evil, salvation is so that we are able to be used for good. We are not saved by works but we are saved for works. The story of the OT repeatedly covers how the people misunderstood their “elect” position. The New Testament writer says it well.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, to proclaim the virtues of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9)
A royal priesthood that, proclaims God’s love and God’s forgiveness and God’s power over the lives of others. Each interaction that we have with another should be prophetic, showing the other what God is doing in any given situation. To do that, we need to be seeking God in every situation, seeking to understand, seeking to give ourselves to the task of pointing to Jesus and responding to him. We are to be a people who prayerfully engage with world around us, listening to the needs of the world and presenting them to God and listening to God to speak his hope over the world.
Life in the flesh is a paradox, it is the holiness of God presented in the sinfulness of humanity. May our God through His Holy Spirit fill us in greater and greater measure, with his Love and His mercy so that we may live holy lives. May your Lenten journey continue to fill you with hope and joy as you trust in Him.
Let us pray.
Lord as we hold our hands together in prayer, we offer them to you to be used by you, for your purposes. Bless us as we continue through Lent towards Easter, prepare our hearts so that we can lay them down and have you take them up, and transform us for your purposes.