While I’m off in Italy, I’m honored to share with you a friend whose spiritual wisdom has shaped me in countless ways. For one year in San Francisco, Debby Bellingham was my spiritual director. She walked with me through my struggles with guilt and continually brought me into the reality of God’s abiding love for me. I’m so thankful for her presence in my life and grateful to share her with you.
“The Eternal Now” is a four-part series. I’ll share it here today through Thursday. Debby’s voice is that of a teacher so it may be an adjustment to shift expectations in your reading around here this week. But I’ll I hope you’ll come to her words with a holy greediness and that her wisdom will speak goodness to your soul.
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I need to admit a few assumptions I am making about you. Iʼm assuming you who are reading this blog are busy, with challenging careers and/or much loved families. It probably seems as if your time is not your own, that you are owned and are identified by the deadlines and demands of these rigorous and yet chosen roles of yours.
Your schedule and the requirements of your work may have caused you to lose the time you once devoted to self-care, especially the time you once spent with God. Remember, back in the day, before the kids, before the career, maybe when you were in college, when you would spend a few minutes each morning with your Bible and prayer journal? Iʼm assuming those days are a sweet and yearned for memory. Impossible to recapture now.
Well, have I got good news for you. Believe it or not, this is a good thing! You are not the person you were then. The time you invested in being quiet with God then has prepared you for the good life youʼve been given now. Your life looks different today, so your experience with God needs to look different as well. You now need to find new and energizing ways to connect with God. You are hungry for such means of grace.
I know you are busy wives, husbands, parents and professionals, but more importantly, let me remind you of the fundamental truth of who you are…you are people who seek to live in Godʼs kingdom, you desire to be transformed into the image of Christ and to be united with God in love. That is who you are.
Does this seem a difficult task? A thing you want, but have trouble finding the time to pursue? That is because you have a wrong idea about how to accomplish it. It is really very simple.
All that is required of you is to accept Godʼs love coming toward you in the present moment, and to respond to this love in obedience.
I said it was simple, but it is not necessarily easy.
It is not easy because it requires a belief (trust) that Godʼs love is always directed toward you; that there is absolutely no interruption of his attention and care for you. In every circumstance and situation, seemingly good or seemingly bad, Godʼs love is the source or the filter through which all things enter your life.
This is hard to believe when life seems to have dealt a difficult hand, when evil seems to win or injustice seems to prevail. I’m sure you have asked the question yourself, “Why God? If you are all loving and all powerful, why didn’t you stop this difficult thing from happening?”
Yet, even in the face of trouble, our hearts hope in the good and mighty and loving God the scriptures reveal. On these truths our faith rests. Our experience is incomplete and changeable; it cannot be the judge that evaluates the state of our life. Our ultimate authority, the solid, unshakeable ground on which we stand is the complete and absolute love of God for us. It is constant, unchanging, without end. This is our most foundational belief.
And such a belief invites two responses.
There is an active response, which is to do what love would require of you, satisfying the duties and roles of your current life; and a passive response, to lovingly accept all that God sends you at each moment of the day, trusting God’s ability to use the contents of this very moment to shape you into holiness.
Two responses, any one can do this. Tomorrow we’ll discuss the passive response.
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Debby Bellingham, her husband Jack, and Molly the pug make their home in San Francisco, CA. She is a spiritual director, retreat leader, author, licensed psychotherapist and ordained clergy. She blogs at www.thementoredlife.com and her study guide and devotional The Mentored Life are available in hard copy or a kindle edition on Amazon. She enjoys (enjoys?) running, spending time with her grandkids and the adventure of doing home exchanges. She’s currently living in NY State for a year and before that two years in Paris.