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Posts Tagged ‘fear’


Psalm 121:3: The Dangerous Path

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Psalm 121:3: God will not let your foot slip and he who watches over you will not fall asleep.

Málaga, Spain: The World’s Most Dangerous Footpath

We panic too quickly.  We lack trust. We believe in our own futile powers more than God’s.  We forget that God has and is all.

God says: I do not mind that you are afraid to trust me.  I do not worry that you believe in yourself more than you believe in me.  I will always be waiting for you.  I will always be guarding you.  I will always be guiding and calling you.  There is nothing you can do or say that will cause me to turn away. I am with you always.  If you are exhausted, put down your head and sleep awhile.  If you are hungry, dine with me this evening.  If you are lonely, spend some time with me.  If you are sad or fearful, come to me. 

Let us be mindful that God does not break the promises he makes . . . and let us aim to keep our own promises.

Let us remember that God abides by the covenants into which he enters . . . and let us endeavor to remain faithful to our own vows.

Let us consider that God is the eternal shepherd and sentinel . . . and let us aspire to the same constancy and abiding love in our own relationships.

As we travel along today’s portion of our journey, let us consider that even the most treacherous path becomes an easy passage . . .  when we walk with God.


A re-post from July 24, 2012.

To learn more about the Caminito del Rey, or the world’s most dangerous footpath, click on the image above or go to: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/howaboutthat/6055150/The-worlds-most-dangerous-footpath.html 

To reflect on becoming a good shepherd, click on the image of the forest path or go to: http://skyranchskymoms.blogspot.com/2011/12/teach-intentionallygod-is-good-shepherd.html 

Enter the word fidelity into the search box on this blog and spend some time reflecting today.

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Acts 18:9-10: Do Not Be Silent

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Risen Christ

Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you; because I have many people in this city.  This is thinking we have visited often in our Noontimes.  The Risen Christ constantly reminds us that there is nothing to fear – even when we wander into enemy territory.

We are afraid to risk loss – loss of a friendship, loss of status, loss of youth, loss of vigor, loss of value in any way.

We are afraid to speak up and to speak out.  We shrink from what my Dad used to call Stand up time.  We do not want to be shunned.  We want to be part of the whole.  We want someone else to voice what we are thinking and fearing, believing that if we do not say the words we can disown the fear.

We do not like uncomfortable silence.  We avoid pregnant pauses and knowing looks.  We know that the dictator’s greatest weapon is fear engendered in others and yet we succumb to the tyrant’s whippings by hiding our words and thoughts.  We unknowingly – or knowingly – hope to keep ourselves safe by using passive aggression but this always backfires on us and leaves us less than whole.

We want to either solve our own problems or totally give our worries away to let them bother someone else.  Solutions stand before us but we humans seem bent on avoiding the Spirit’s help at all costs.  And it need not be so.

Jesus tells us to shake away the dust of those who reject us; he tells us to move on in our mission and leave to him the task of converting hardened hearts. (Matthew 10:14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5)

Matthew’s Gospel (10:18-20) records Jesus’ words to his disciples: On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Luke’s account is similar (12:11): When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say. 

Jesus himself relies on the Father for both words and nuance (John 12:49-50): For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that his command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.

It is clear that we are never alone and yet we childishly refuse the help offered by our creator, our redeemer and the gentle abider.  We cling to wrong thinking because we do not want to make waves or cause turmoil . . . yet how much turmoil does wrong-headed thinking cause?  All we need do is steady ourselves and rely on the creator of all things.

It is obvious that we are in constant company of the Spirit . . . yet we do not use the words we are given because we fear we are not up to the challenge.  How much more difficult is the struggle when we fail to act as we are asked?  All we need do is to quiet ourselves and listen.

It is evident that we are not alone . . . and yet we refuse to recognize the company of our brother and constant companion in life.  How much anxiety is caused by our refusal to see who stands before us?  All we need do is settle ourselves . . . and speak.

We are not alone.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: all three remain even though we reject their advice and deny their presence.


A re-post from May 21, 2012.

For an interesting story about the image above, click on the photo or go to:http://www.oocities.org/saibaba_risenchrist/eng.htm

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Exodus 21:1-11: Freedom

Easter Wednesday, April 24, 2019

A re-post from Easter Monday, April 9, 2012.

When we read portions of scripture like this one today we can see why it is fool’s work to believe in sacred texts in a black-and-white, off-on way.  As we read these Laws Regarding Slaves we see that they made sense in the context of their time.  It is my hope that we can also see that they are out of step with 21st Century living.  Anyone reading these statutes as absolutes will have difficulty explaining them away.  How, for example, do we make sense of these phrases? When you purchase a Hebrew slave . . . if his master gives him a wife . . . the woman and her children remain his property . . . when a man sells his daughter . . . if her master dislikes her . . . Any of us who knows true freedom will cherish and defend it for others.  Any of us who enjoy controlling others will find these rules to be liberal and kind.  Any of us who understands that Christ has come to liberate us from all kinds of slavery will see these decrees for what they are: laws that kept social order thousands of years ago, not laws that we will want to enforce today.  Why is it, I wonder, as we struggle with one another do we treat one another as slaves who must comply with our whims?  And why is it that we often live our lives in full denial of the fact that when we live as we like without considering the far-reaching effects of our whims we enslave others?  We want cheaper electronics made in factories where workers toil in a poisonous environment.  We want clothes that cost less because they are put together in sweat shops where children work long hours under horrible conditions; we do not mind that the diamonds we wear so easily are brought to light by child slaves.  Has Jesus taught us anything?

If we learn anything from the Easter story it is that we are free.  In today’s Gospel Matthew tells us that the structure which tried to extinguish Jesus bribed guards and implicated Jesus’ disciples.  The chief priests and elders took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, “You are to say, “His disciples came by night and stole him while we were asleep”.  And if this gets to the ears of the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble”.  The soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed.  We can only presume that the plot was unsuccessful.  I often wonder how the elders, priests, and soldiers quieted the small voice of truth that must have niggled at their consciousness.  Perhaps they had hardened their hearts.  We will never know.

On this first day after the resurrection of Jesus we might want to spend some time examining our lives to see where we pay small and big bribes to silence truth.  We may want to think about how and where we turn blind eyes and deaf ears to realities that insist on nagging at us when our guard is down.  How much easier it is to admit these certainties and conform ourselves to the greatest law there is, the law that supersedes all laws: The Law of Love.

Jesus died, Jesus was buried.  And behold, there was an earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven, approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it . . . The guards were shaken with fear of him and became like dead men.  These guards later accepted a sum of money to forego the truth.  Jesus comes to rescue them, the elders and priests, just as he also rescues his friends.  We may try to enslave one another with our whims and our fears.  We may allow ourselves to be enslaved for a time or forever to a person, an idea, or an addiction.  In the end, Jesus stands ready to rescue each of us.  When he calls outside the door of our enslavement which we have shut tightly against the darkness of our fears, will we be willing to open it to the truth and the light and the freedom beyond?


Image from: http://www.designzzz.com/freedom-concept-photography/

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Daniel 2:9: A False and Deceitful Interpretation

Third Sunday of Lent, March 24, 2019

When I am troubled about a relationship, when there seems to be a cloud of confusion about a particular topic, I go to scripture . . . and I always receive an answer.  Today has brought me clarity to another thorny problem, and I thank God for his quick and clear answer to my question.

Yesterday we spent some time with the second chapter of Daniel in which we discussed how our little gods insist on being carried and served while the Living God carries and serves us.  We reminded ourselves of how faithfully God turns all harm into goodness.  And we wondered if we might – like Daniel – have the courage to take a public stand on thorny issues.  We concluded our thoughts knowing that humility and fidelity will always bring us to mercy and truth.  Today we look at one verse from Daniel’s story: You have framed a false and deceitful interpretation to present me with till the crisis is past.

Too frequently we humans are tempted to throw blame for error on others.  We are too quick to fog the truth.  We are too willing to stand silent while others are persecuted; too happy to shy away from responsibility; to eager to avoid conflict.  This may be a good time to pause in our Lenten journey to evaluate ourselves and our relationship with others in order to assess how well – or how poorly – we speak for truth; and often – or how seldom – we stand for clarity and authenticity.  An examination of our relationship with God and others must be candid and deep . . . and so we ask ourselves this basic question: When or how have we framed a false and deceitful interpretation of a conversation in order to avoid accepting responsibility? 

Further questions flow from an honest evaluation.

  • What have been the consequences of stalling for time while others suffer?
  • Why have we participated in plots of lies and deception?
  • How have we contributed to crises and neglected to act in peace?
  • Who have been our companions in life’s journey: those who act in fear or those act in love?

We learn about ourselves when we take this sort of journey; and we come to know why we sleep in peace or are rattled by doubt.  When we respond honestly to this kind of inquiry we begin to reach into our best selves, and we draw nearer to God.

If our answers to these difficult questions are positive and good then we can take heart and continue to move forward.  If our answers embarrass or shame us, if we are unhappy with the way in which we rely on ourselves more than we trust God, we might take this opportunity to turn away from the little gods that insist on sapping our energy and diluting our will.  We can give all that we are and all that we do to The Living God who loves us so well and so much.

It may be a new experience for us to go to someone we have wronged to ask forgiveness, but this is how we show repentance.

It may be complicated to sort out the truth from the lies in our relationships, but is the first step toward honesty and authenticity.

It may be a difficult journey inward as we strip away pretense to arrive at our true selves, but it essential if we wish to truly know peace.

You have framed a false and deceitful interpretation to present me with till the crisis is past.

Let us pray that if or when these words are spoken about us we will have the spiritual energy to resist the lure of a life lived without blame, that we will turn away from a life lived in shadow, and that we will continue to turn to The Living God when we find ourselves among the thorns.


A re-post from March 24, 2012.

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Mark 1 -3A Reason to Believe

Tuesday, February 20, 2019

Today we return to the Gospel of Mark and when we study these opening Chapters we discover that they provide the perfect resource for us when we have had a bad day, an awful week, a cataclysmic month, or a horrendous span in our lives.  In these simple stories we will find the courage to continue an arduous journey; we will find hope that will impel us forward through tragedy.  We will even find the strength to help others who journey alongside us. Mark shows us a typical series of days in the life of Jesus in such a way that we might see ourselves putting aside our worldly worries to follow him.  Mark, with his quick-moving, thriller Gospel, gives us a reason to believe.

John the Baptist serves as a precursor or herald for the Messiah who follows him.  Our troubles and woes often announce themselves as well.  We feel a frisson of fear, a foreshadowing of something not fully revealed.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these forebodings are not our ultimate end.  Our end is rescue and redemption.  John baptizes the one who saves us all and Jesus unites with us in our own baptism.

The Spirit drives Jesus into the desert for forty days where he lives among wild beasts, is tempted by Satan and is ministered to by angels.  We too are driven into the barren wastes where we also met with devils and angels.  When we follow Jesus we will know that these dead places are not our last stop – even though they may seem to be at the time.  Jesus relies on the Father and unites with us in our own sufferings and temptations.

Jesus begins his ministry.  He cures many.  He gathers a following.  He chooses steadfast friends from the countless who follow him.  He is hounded by those who envy his relationship with God and the people.  We too step into the world to reveal our gifts and to allow God to act through us.  We too encounter obstacles to the Call we feel.  We too are harassed by those who cannot abide our closeness with God.  When we follow Jesus we know that there is no one, no idea, no thought, no thing that can separate us from God.  God never strays; it is we who have the choice to abandon or to abide.  Just as Jesus turns always to the Father so do we.  Jesus unites with us in the struggle.

Jesus steps into dangerous territory and his family and friends caution him, they even question his work.  We have seen the look of disappointment on the faces of others who misunderstand our steadfastness, who feel betrayed by our fidelity to the Gospel.  We know the sensation of rejection when those we love can no longer abide with us in the Spirit.  Jesus invites us to be one with him in the sacrifice we make in our own Gospel journey.  Jesus bonds with us as his sisters and brothers; he holds us close.  Jesus becomes one with us and takes up our too-heavy cross.

These opening stories in the Gospel of Mark draw us into Jesus’ story just as a good cinematographer hooks us in the opening shots of a film.  Jesus moves from friend to foe, from those who love him to those to hate him; and he always keeps his eye on the Father.  Jesus accompanies us in our own story; and he helps us to be mindful of the Spirit.

As we prepare to enter the Lenten season, we do well to read these opening Chapters of the Gospel of Mark for he tells us all and he tells us quickly.  Mark celebrates Jesus even as he foretells his awful end.  Mark holds no punches, sweetens no madness, and obscures no ugliness.  Mark shows us all.  Mark’s story gives us hope when tragedy strikes.  Mark’s story gives us courage when cataclysm hits.  Mark’s story helps us to prepare for the journey.  Mark’s story gives us a reason to believe this amazing Christ.


A re-post from February 20, 2012.

Image from: http://www.atotheword.com/2011/04/05/jesus-man-born-blind-for-works-of-god-to-manifest-in-him/

For more on the Gospel of Mark, see the Mark – “I Am” page on this blog. 

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Isaiah 51When We Feel Abandoned

Saturday, October 20, 2018

These are the first words that greeted me this morning in my email inbox.  They are from the Richard Rohr site to which I subscribe and currently Rohr is sending messages from his newest book, BREATHING UNDER WATER.  The title – and the meditation message below – speaks to anyone who has suffered deeply . . . and to anyone who longs to suffer well.

“Only people who have suffered in some way can save one anotherexactly as the Twelve Step program discovered. Deep communion and dear compassion is formed much more by shared pain than by shared pleasure. Only those who have tried to breathe under water know how important breathing really is, and will never take it for granted again. They are the ones who do not take shipwreck or drowning lightly, who can name “healing” correctly, who know what they are being saved from, and who develop the patience and humility to ask the right questions of God and of themselves.

“You see, only the survivors know the full terror of the passage, the arms that held them through it all, and the power of the obstacles that were overcome. Those who have passed over eventually find a much bigger world of endurance, meaning, hope, self-esteem, deeper and true desire, but most especially, a bottomless pool of love both within and without”.

From BREATHING UNDER WATER: SPIRITUALITY AND THE TWELVE STEPS, pp. 123,124,125 http://cacradicalgrace.org/resources/breathing-under-water

Here we have clear instructions for what to do when we are deeply troubled, for when we believe that we do not fully understand God’s plan, for when we may even feel abandoned by God.

Listen to me . . . we are instructed.  I will help you to breathe under water.  I will sustain you in a world that feels foreign to you.

Look to the rock from which you are hewn . . . God says to us.  You are made in my image.  I love you dearly.  I will never leave you.

Be attentive to me . . . God calls out to us.  I exist through all time and space as do you.  I speak to you now.  I am telling you that you will never fail.

Raise your eyes to the heavens and look at the earth below . . . we are challenged.  Choose life or death.  Choose your own plan or mine. 

Fear not the reproach of others . . . we are cautioned.  Their opinion means nothing in the light of eternity.  Follow the law rather than the whimsical judgment of those who chase after power, status and reputation.

Awake, awake, put on strength . . . God urges us.  I know that you are weary but my burden is light and my shoulders are broad.  I carry many but I long to carry you.

Hear me, you who know justice, you who have my teaching in your heart . . . God does not waver, God does not give up.  I, it is I who comfort you.  I am the Lord you God.  I have put my words into your mouth.  I have shielded you in the shadow of my hand.  I stretched out the heavens; I laid the foundations of the earth.  I am here to rescue you.

So when we are fear-filled, we must remember to ask for the grace, patience, and wisdom to discern God’s hand in all that happens around us.  When we feel abandoned, we must keep the arms of Jesus wrapped round us.  When it seems that all is hopeless, we must abide in the faith that God the Father knows all and keeps his promises.  When we are deeply troubled, we must ask intercession for those who have harmed us and done us damage.  When we feel utterly alone, we rest in the understanding and solace of the Holy Spirit.  And when we are healed . . . we turn to others to pass along the wonder of God’s love.


A re-post from September 17, 2011.

Images from http://www.flippersmack.com/ and http://recdive.com/2010/07/29/the-wonders-of-scuba-diving/

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Ezra 6Rebuilding

Friday, September 14, 2018

Written on January 8 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

The house is to be rebuilt . . .  

We are so often exhausted by life’s demands that we cannot experience joy when we hear good news . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

In today’s Noontime, King Darius reiterates the original command given by King Cyrus . . . the house is to be rebuilt.  Nehemiah, the administrator, and Ezra, the priest, set about restoring the city and temple in Jerusalem.  They travel through dangerous territory and carry with them a letter of safe-passage from their former enemy.  They arrive in Jerusalem to find a pile of rubble so dense that horses cannot find a pathway – they must pick their way on foot through toppled stone.  They return from exile most likely drained of energy . . . but there is hope and even joy because . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am struck by the concordance of the instructions in the decree we read today with the original description of the temple that Solomon built which we read in 1 Kings 7.  God does not forget his promise to the Jewish nation that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Nor does God forget all that he has promised us, his daughters and his sons.  Just like the destroyed temple, we too will be rebuilt and in fact are being rebuilt each day.  We are the temple in which the Spirit dwells, and as the cares of the world tear at its pillars and nibble at is foundation, Jesus becomes the master planner who constantly offers to help us reconstruct.  His constant attention and love remind us that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

I am thinking of Psalms 126 and 127.  Those who go out weeping return singing . . . we labor in vain unless the Lord is the master builder of our house.

Whatever our flaws, whatever our sorrows, all will be converted to joy for we are promised that . . . the house is to be rebuilt.

Whatever our obstacles, whatever our fears, they become our stepping stones to serenity once we remember that . . . the house is to be rebuilt. 


A re-post from August 14, 2011.

Image from: http://www.amazon.com/Rebuilding-House-Laurie-Graham/dp/0140123385/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1313344601&sr=8-2 

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Genesis 18:1-15: Dissembling

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Because she was afraid, Sarah dissembled, saying, “I didn’t laugh”.  But he said, “Yes you did”. It seems that when we are afraid, or even uncomfortable, we hide.  Perhaps we want to protect ourselves from unwanted criticism at a time when we feel vulnerable.  Society would benefit from our willingness to put aside fear in order to practice honesty.  Our families would flourish if we might find a way to establish trust in order that we become less defensive.  Our work and play communities would prosper if we were free of ridicule.  Putting aside fear so that we might live a life of authenticity is what God asks us to do.  We all fail at this constantly . . . and this is something that God knows well.

Fear has been with us since our genesis as humans; it is not an aberration that arises after eons of human evolution.  Nor is it a modern phenomenon brought on by rapid change or sudden advances in technology.  Fear must have been with the first humans who hunted and gathered food and sought shelter.  Dissembling was likely a defense against isolation or separation from the tribe, a strategy for survival.  Is it a tool we want to use today?  Do we need to shave edges from truth?  Do we need to shape the opinion of those around us?  Are we willing to go to God and ask that we begin again . . . in total honesty . . . without dissembling?

It is good to remind ourselves that God is quick to pardon when we ask forgiveness, and that God has infinite mercy for us.  We know that all God asks is our gratitude and our willingness to do as he asks.  God constantly assures us that we are loved . . . and God asks for our love in return.  We need not fear.  We need not dissemble.  And we need not nurture this dissembling in ourselves or others.  When we are fearful . . . we know what we must do.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 129-130)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.

Isaiah 43:12: Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you. 

And so we pray . . .

When we feel fear begin to consume us, rather than dissemble and begin to weave a complicated web, we must call on God to bolster us in the truth.

When we are tempted to mislead others, rather than add to the illusion, we must ask God to help us to be honest and authentic.

When we come upon a rat’s nest of lies and deceit, rather than turn away with blank face and trembling heart, we must rely on God to help us witness to what we know to be truth.

Good and honest God, you have allowed us to choose if and how we are to follow you.  Guide us to see through the clever tricks of the expert weavers of lies and lead us to be merciful with those who dissemble out of fear.  Protect us as we mark a straight path to you with the signs of our little and big sufferings.  Lead us out of the maze of confusing dissembled responses others give to us.  Give us the courage to speak candidly, to act compassionately, and to love into goodness those who would harm us with their dissembling words.  We ask this of you who has created us, you who has shown us the way of authenticity, and you who abides within us always.  Amen. 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 13.6 (2011): 129-130. Print.   

Image from: http://listverse.com/2007/08/20/top-10-bizarre-phobias/

A re-post from August 10, 2011.

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Exodus 17In Our Midst

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Fear of abandonment is a horror that grips many and as a result lovers jilt one another so as not to be left by the other, parents abuse their children so as to not be disappointed, colleagues betray one another in order to keep a job, supervisors coerce workers in order to maintain complete control, friends disappear from relationships rather than work through conflict.  We can imagine how the kingdom might bloom if we were to fully comprehend one single fact . . . we are never alone . . . God is with us always and so there is no need to allow the terror of rejection to govern us.

Christ brings us a message of inversion, as we have said in many NoontimesHe tells us that what is up in our physical world is actually down in his.  The poor and the humble inherit, those who mourn rejoice, the hungry and thirsty are sated, and those who suffer persecution because of this belief reign.  When any of my siblings or I complained of an injustice – perceived or real – my mother would remind us easily and with a smile: The first will be last . . . the master is the servant. 

So if we are to live as if we believe in this first is last kingdom-building, we perceive abandonment as its inverted companion . . . union.  Christ is with us to remind us that the jilted are his special loves, the lost children his particular darlings, and the oppressed his best and closest friends.  In today’s Noontime, God shows the Hebrew people how much they are loved.  God tells them that they are not alone.  God reminds them that they are unique and chosen loved ones . . . yet they do not understand.  Across the millennia we hear their cry, see their pain, and we ask as the Hebrews did: Why do we suffer?  Why do things like this happen?  How are we to go on?  We are still God’s stiff-necked people.

Water springing from a rock, manna and quail in the desert: God knows that there are hidden gifts in hard, dry places;  God knows that manna gathers itself like dew in the desert morning;  God knows that great flocks of quail migrate over the wilderness and come to ground to rest; yet we persist in disbelief.  We continue to ask as the Hebrews ask: Is the Lord in our midst or not?   

In verses 8 through 13 we watch Joshua defeat the army of Amalek as long as Moses keeps his hands raised.  This story fascinated me as a child and I spent days lurking behind my brothers and sisters willing them to do things I wanted when I raised my hands to heaven.  God in great wisdom did not answer those requests . . . but God has answered many more as God accompanies me on my journey.

After the defeat of the Amalekites, the Lord says to Moses: Write this down in a document as something to be remembered, and recite it in the ears of Joshua.  In Old Testament language, the Lord tells the people that God will always be among them to defend them; God will not allow them to be wiped out.  God tells them that they are not alone, and that God will bring goodness out of evil . . . always.

We are never alone.  We are constantly loved.  We are rescued, comforted, healed and held . . . always and without fail.  There are no circumstances and no people we need ever fear.  The parched desert and the brutality of the Amalekites in our lives need not send us into panic because God is in our midst.

And so we too, can write this down . . . We have nothing to fear because the Lord will war against our enemies . . . throughout the centuries. 


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 26, 2011. 

Image from: http://gambolinman.blogspot.com/2007/10/southwest-usa-precious-water-abounds-in.html 

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