Monday, October 14, 2013


Women of Faith:

“It isn't those parts of the Bible that I can't understand that bother me, it is the parts that I do understand.” Mark Twain
I am “bothered”—not anxious, worried or upset—more like energized, eyes opened, and complacency ruffled—called to action—because of what I understand as I listen to God’s word and relate the message to my personal choices.

Mk 8:34 says Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and that of the gospel will save it.”
The gift of understanding comes to us from the Holy Scripture who speaks to us in different ways at different times, not because God’s message says something different or has different truths, but because we hear it based on our own differing life experiences. The Spirit opens our hearts to hear what we need to hear, when we need to hear it—when it applies to our current situation.

It is what I sometimes think of as “being spoken to in tongues.” God’s message is forever the same—but I don’t always hear it in the same way; sometimes because I just don’t “get it” and sometimes because I just don’t “want to get it.” Understanding the message “bothers” me into seeing my imperfections and changing my heart. Understanding means I have to make a choice—to obey God’s message or to deny Him.
God’s message of service to others and forgiveness of others speaks a not so popular truth. In this understanding I am called to give up my own selfish wants and desires (what might make me feel good) to work towards His perfection (which is much greater than my own perfection).

I am very thankful that I also realize His Word includes a message of mercy and forgiveness—tolerance of my short comings.
And I am thankful for the faith which helps me to trust both parts of His message—both His commands and His promises—as long as I don’t deny the truths I understand.

“But the word of God is not chained….. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” 2 Tm 2: 8-13
It “bothers” me to persevere in praying for a society who does not appear to be listening and a society where believers live life taking forgiveness for granted (saying they can do whatever they want because He will grant mercy regardless of the wrongs we do) instead of as a gift He given at His death on the cross, and for which only He can judge our worthiness in the end.

If I don’t understand the message because my heart is hard, then God is knocking at my door and will wait for me forever, until I am ready to open my heart to understanding the redeeming love he offers.
If I don’t understand the message because I am not catechized, then it is my responsibility to look to the Church for interpretation and education: to learn more about the faith I profess.

And if I understand the message, then it is my responsibility to be “bothered,” to not ignore, but to be moved to action—to  pray about and live the message to the fullest extent possible, to trust His word and to do His will—to follow Christ’s example.
Understanding Scripture doesn’t mean I get to pick it apart or to search for what I want it to say but to hear it with my heart from God’s point of view, to listen to His plan and to live by His design.

For me, it is easiest to understand (and be bothered) by those parts of the message that are simply repeated in God’s message thru the example of Christ’s life—forgiveness, caring, and serving of my neighbor, AND being in God’s presence at church. The commandments of love, (Jn 13: 34) of forgiving each other as we would wish to be forgiven ourselves (Mt 18:35) and of keeping Holy the Sabbath (Dt 5: 12). I am “bothered” (called to action) to remain in His presence and to forgo the selfishness it takes to serve and forgive others—to follow Christ’s example.
Heavenly Father, You are a good and gracious God. Even when we are bound by the chains of sin, you are always present to assist us. You gave us the gift of Your son, Jesus, to free us. Give me the patience and perseverance to do what it is You ask of me. Thank you for the gift of understanding that “bothers” me into action. Help me to live what I believe: within the boundaries of Your truth and love. Amen.

Are you “bothered” into action by what you understand? Does your daily life reflect or work towards living the beliefs of the gift of your understanding?
Be “bothered” by the Spirit, released from the chains that bind, and perfected in His name….

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