Archives for category: Thoughts and Reflections

On Sunday, January 11, 2015 (Baptism of the Lord Sunday; Mark 1:9-10) Christian churches in some traditions observed a Reaffirmation of The Baptismal Covenant in which congregants came forward and had water placed on their hands with the accompanying words from the minister:  Remember your baptism and be thankfulTo be clear, in the United Methodist tradition, we do not re-baptize people.  However, through the above mentioned Baptismal Covenant, we have a way to remember our baptisms.

Also, on Sunday, January 11, there was an abundance of water in SW Louisiana. The rain was a combination, at times, of moderate rain, mist and sprinkles (we Methodists are fond of sprinkles!).  As I exited my vehicle to join my wife in worship, I became keenly aware of the sprinkles of water coming down.  Having little hair on my head, the droplets were particularly chilling on my noggin!  And this thought occurred to me, how ironic that on Baptism of the Lord Sunday, God was sprinkling God’s creation and creatures with the precious gift of water.

Most people have some fond memories of water or settings where water was present:  a cascading waterfall, water running through a creek bed, stomping in water puddles, the beautiful Blackfoot River featured in the movie, “A River Runs Through It,” and who can forget 2014 for its ALS Ice-Bucket challenges?

As I reflect back on some of my journeys in life, I am more and more impressed by how some events converge in such a way that it causes me to stop in my tracks and simply say, “God was there!”

Take for example the time my mother (single-parent named “Addys”) first introduced me to the lake water of Caney Lake (Webster Parish).  I was in grade school.  The journey began (and would be repeated many times) by taking what is known as the Airport Road outside of Minden, LA.  My mother drove that curvy road, which ran past Camp Caney (a United Methodist Camp) on a sweltering-heat kind of Sunday.  Making her way through a curve or two past the camp, she pulled her car over, parked and the two of us began our trek down a steep incline until we reached the bottom.  It was there mother pointed out the fresh running water trickling in the small creek-bed.  She told me stories about the times she hauled water from creek- beds to the house where she lived as a child.  She told me of drinking cold water from a creek.  And, to my amazement, she invited me to cup my small hands and scoop and drink the cool water from the creek. I did. I would do many other times.

From the creek bed of water, we would venture through a few openings that would lead us to the body of water known as Caney Lake.  There a dock was waiting for me jump into the refreshing water of the lake. I would swim all afternoon. Then we headed home in an old-blue colored station wagon that burned oil and smoked like a pulp-wood truck. At home, momma knew just what a child needed: some hot, home-made apple turnovers accompanied by a large glass of milk.



A few years later after I became acquainted with some church youth, I was invited to attend church camp.  On my first trip to the church camp, the car turned down Airport Road, and instead of traveling on through a couple of curves past the camp, the car drove into Camp Caney.  Interesting, I thought.  As many times as I passed the sign that said, “Camp Caney,” we never drove into the camp.

Arriving at my first youth camp there in those piney woods, I registered like all the other kids, and we were told if we wanted we could walk down to the lake (Caney Lake). I wasn’t particularly surprised by the fact that the trek down the hill would take us to the lake.  What I was surprised by was when I got down to the lake, there was a pier there, the same pier I had jumped from as a child.

Suddenly it all converged for me!!   The journey to the lake by way of the cold-water creek and the journey from the camp to the waters of the lake took me to the place I had been many times but just then recognized where I was. I was astonished, and even to this day, I recall that feeling of how surprised I was that I came by the lake and pier to the same spot.

I think of Robert Frost’s poem, “The Road Not Taken,” in which he wrote:  “Two roads converged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both….I shall be telling this with a sigh, Somewhere ages and ages hence.”

For me, two paths converged in the piney woods that day at the camp. I unknowingly had taken them both!  And it would not be long after that a United Methodist pastor, named John Lee, would guide me into a relationship with Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.  “Bro. John” would baptize me. My Christian walk began and the walk with Christ has continued with many others.  I now know this experience to have been the work of God’s prevenient grace. (To better understand Prevenient Grace see the following link:

WATER. You never know where it is going to lead you.

Please enjoy the following video:

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday (Photo credit: Howard O. Young)

“Common Sense Caucus.” That is a phrase that has really caught my attention-“common sense caucus.” Why? Well, frankly, regardless of one’s political leanings, I am a bit taken aback by the idea. I mean, really, has our leadership in Washington been operating in the realm of a not “common sense caucus.” Don’t answer that!!


All political opinions aside, I wonder how many times those of us who confess Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior and as those who seek to live as Christ’s representatives in the world, find ourselves living out of a not “common sense” understanding of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Truth is, if anything makes sense it’s the “common sense” God who revealed his true personhood and Spirit in Jesus Christ. Of course, that’s what got Jesus into a “pickle” so many times. The way he loved was a “common sense” love. Love God and love neighbor. Loving God wasn’t the problem. The problem was loving people the way God loved people–unconditionally.

I don’t know about you, but over the years I have come to fall in love with God more and more. The more I pray and contemplate the faithfulness of God, God who cannot be untrue to God’s nature, which is Love, I marvel at God’s for me. There was a time in my life when I was not that certain, but something happened, actually an accumulation of things happened.

One of the things that happened was Prevenient Grace. Of course, I didn’t know anything about Prevenient Grace, but that’s the beauty of it, isn’t it? Not knowing. Until one day you hear about Prevenient Grace, the grace that comes before, and you are somewhere and this little “light bulb” goes off in your head and you say, “Ohhhhh! Now I see.”

Let me tell you a story.

Sunday afternoons were often his favorite during the hot, muggy months of Summer. He didn’t go to church, and about the closest thing he got to church was watching some Gospel Music show on Sunday morning. His momma loved those shoes. She loved the Florida Boy and the Blackwood quartet to name a few. Of course a child can take so much when it’s Summer and hot and you’re dying to go swimming. So he would set in to pleading, “Take me swimming! Please take me swimming!” And she would.

Now, they didn’t go swimming just anywhere. That little ingenious lady had found a special place To the child it was a magical place, and it was an magical adventure just getting there. First of all you had to travel out of town a ways until you got to the Airport Road. You followed that road  past a small one-landing strip airport until you passed Turner’s Dairy Farm  with the smell of manure and fresh-cut hay wafting in the air.   Continuing on, you took the first curve to the left which became sort of like a roller coaster ride, complete with the “butterflies” in your stomach as you swooped up and around one curve after another to the you came to this one certain curve. It was there the old car would pull off in safe area, and another adventure would begin, this time on foot. The two of them would carefully walk down, he would sometimes slide down a steep area that led to a shallow creek bed. There in that creek bed, fresh, cold spring water was running in the creek. It was then, she would kneel, cup her hands (and he would too), and without giving it a second-thought, they drank, they drank like they were drinking something medicinal. His momma would tell how when she was a child, they would bring the milk pales and put them in the creek to keep the milk from spoiling, or sometimes they would lower the milk down into their hand-drawn water well.

He would listen and imagine, and then he would wait for one of those “ready, set go” moments when she would say, “Come on! Let’s go swimming” The two of them would walk barefoot in the cold, spring water creek down to the lake. Into that lake he would dive and swim and dive and swim for what seemed like hours. He would go the bottom and scoop muscles off the bottom and then bring them up and pry them open.

Late afternoon he would trek out of the water at her insistence, of course. They would then head back to the car the same way they came. When they got home, he headed straight to the kitchen to dive into a large supply of fried apple turn-overs his momma had cooked before they went swimming. He would wash them down with a Dr. Pepper. Then it was bath time and bed time, and with hunger and thirst quenched he would slide between, clean crisp sheets and sleep very well.

Years later, many years later, after he was grown, he would come to learn and appreciate something he seemed to have no knowledge of–Prevenient Grace. Before that would happen the child would become a young man, a youth, who would begin to be introduced by other youth and adults to the joy of being a Christian. Of course, he wasn’t so sure about all of that “Jesus” stuff. However, on another hot summer day, he would travel out of town a ways until he got to the Airport Road. He followed the road past Turner’s Dairy Farm with the smell of fresh manure and fresh-cut hay giving out own unique aromatic fragrance. This time he didn’t go left, around the curve to the left. This time he drove into Camp Caney, to Youth camp. Of course, there was swimming at church camp, so the first time he went swimming at camp, he followed another trail down to the lake. He was really looking forward to swimming. As he approached the lake and saw the pier stretching out into the lake, it suddenly dawned on him–he was about to swim in the same lake he had swam in as a child. Only this time, this time he approached Caney Lake from a different angle.

Years later, even still, he would have a “Oh!! Now I see” moment. You know that moment when you realize you have been on this journey that didn’t seem to connect in any way until you suddenly see where you are and Who has been on the Journey with you all along.

Isn’t that just like our God, that rascally “Hound of Heaven” who keeps chasing, who keeps showing up even when at times we seem to be “out to lunch!!”

There is a story in John 5 (please read) about a man who had been out of sorts for a long time: 38 years!  You see, he had been sitting by the Pool of Bethesda for 38 years.  There is a lot going on in the story, but two things seem to me to be most important about the action in the story.

One is this. John says, “When Jesus saw him….” Jesus saw him! Others had not seen the man in years. That happens when familiarity sets in. You see but you don’t “see.” Jesus saw him.

Have you ever felt like you have not been seen? Or, that people had not really “seen” you in years? Times when you have, perhaps, become like some old road sign, faded, bleached out by the sun? You were no less a person, but somehow not “seen” or acknowledged! Jesus saw him. Jesus sees you and me, be it one day or ten years or 38. You are not forgotten.

Why? Consider the second thing. is this–John 5:17 Jesus is recorded to have said, “My Father is working straight through, even on the Sabbath. So am I.”

Succinctly–Christ pushed on through! And that’s just what Prevenient Grace does–God in Christ keeps pushing on through.

If ever there was a time where  Christ pushed on through it was Holy Week

  • It’s a week that begins with a parade and with much Joy (Hosanna, Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord),
  • Advances to another level for blood (Crucify him! Crucify) and,
  • Will end with God in Christ feeling deserted and alone (My God! My God!)– let’s remember this–God pushes on through!

However, just wait!! God’s going to do it again! God is going to push through again! Hear Jesus in John 5:17 again but with a bit of change: “My Father is working straight through, even on the Cross.

So, take these two things with you: You are seen, not forgotten by Christ! God is pushing on through, even from the Cross, for your salvation and mine!

No truer words have been spoken than these: “I do not at all understand the mystery of grace–only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.” (Ann Lamott)

As Barbara Brown Taylor says in her book, The Preaching Life: So love God. Love neighbor. Be a neighbor, and let us not complicate things by arguing about specifics. You know what it means to do love because some time or another you have been on the receiving end of it, but remember that knowing the right answer does not change a thing. If you want the world to look different the next time you go outside, do some love. Do a little or do a lot, but do some, and do not forget yourself.

May I challenge us all during this Holy Week to:
Love someone, pray for someone, listen to someone, clothe someone, provide a ride for someone, bring groceries to someone, call someone, visit someone, affirm someone, rescue someone, wipe a tear for someone, laugh with someone, hold someone’s hand, bring a cup of water to someone.

Would you like to sit a spell and have another cup of coffee before you go?
English: Youths playing the Red Rover game.

English: Youths playing the Red Rover game. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Red rover! Red rover! Let Steven come over!”  Remember that childhood, playground game?  Before  the game could begin,  two captains were selected who would alternate in choosing members of their team. When the captains were decided, there were several ways in which a captain had first choice.   Having first choice was extremely important.  It meant you had first choice on the top picks.  (Sounds like a draft, doesn’t it?)

If you wanted strength, you picked big Fred G.  If you wanted speed, you picked Randy F.  There were girls too! They were chosen right along side the boys.  Mary S. was as fast as anyone! Some were chosen sooner than others, but when it was all said and done all interested game-players were chosen.

There was nervousness as a part of the choosing! Will the captain choose the right person(s) for her/his team?  Will the Captain choose me?  Will I not only be chosen, but will I end up being on the team I want to be on?  As the player-choices dwindled, there was anxiety,  “What if I am the last person chosen?” It’s interesting how a person feel both ecstatic and relieved at the same time

Years ago Max Lucado wrote a book in which he told the story of an older man and younger guy who days-on-end would show up where a pool of guys would gather each morning hoping to be signed-on to work that day. Early each morning they arrived hoping to be hired, and in what seemed like an eternity, the older man and younger guy were passed over time and time again time and time again.  Then, one day, it happened!  The two of them were chosen to work, and as the two leave to go to the work site, the older man says something to the younger guy like:  “It sure feels good to be chosen!”  And it does.

There are also times in our lives when we are chosen and don’t even know it.  A few years ago while serving a local church, I was introduced to a special ministry called Kids Hope USA.  It’s an organization that invites churches to partner with a local school in an impoverished area of  a community to offer many things to students and schools, which they would not be able to secure otherwise:   tutors, school supplies, uniforms, parties, etc.

With a little persuasion and with a little bargaining I agreed to serve as a tutor.  Every Thursday afternoon I would meet with the same student for an hour.  My first student, we’ll call him “Ken,” was a second-grader.  As you can imagine it took us a few weeks to get comfortable with one another. Some days we would study his spelling. On other days we would read.  We even had time each week, if we chose, to go outside and shoot a few hoops or if the computers were up and running we would do simple math on one of the computer games.   “Ken” was a great little guy!  He was mischievous as could be, and there were times when I would show up and “Ken” had not come to school (for numerous reasons).

I recall our first meeting.  Since we were so well unacquainted, I suggested that we draw pictures of our families.  His picture included a picture of his mother, grandmother and siblings.  He was very fond of his older sister and baby brother.  I shared my family picture with him as well, even introducing him to my dogs.  Such was our time together for the school year.  You can’t help but get close to a young child when you spend week after week with them in a tutoring setting or shooting hoops or playing kickball.

As the school year was about to come to a close, I suggested that we draw pictures of our families again.  Not much changed from our first pictures, except as “Ken” was describing all the people in his picture I noticed an extra person.  When I asked him who that person was, he said rather matter-of-factly, “That’s you silly willy!!”

I can’t begin to tell you how proud that made me feel.  “Ken” had chosen me!  I belonged!  We belonged! What an honor I felt to be chosen, to be included. Of course, this didn’t just happen by chance. It took time, lots of time , and lots of patience, which is always true if relationships are to be formed.

And then there are times we are chosen in spite of ourselves.  I think about the disciples of Jesus Christ.  They were such a hodgepodge of folks!   Still, these were the kind of people (thank God)  Jesus chose.  They spent a lot of time together.  Some days they were right on target in the ministry Jesus invited them to engage in with people.  Other days they were like “bumps on a log,”  “dense as fog”  and not the “sharpest tool in the shed!” However, when the “chips were down” and the inevitability of Jesus turning his face toward Jerusalem and knowing all the suffering that lie ahead, Jesus had a very intimate conversation with these same hodgepodge disciples (see John 15:9-17)  God knows what all Jesus could have said. He could have chastised them  for not always “getting it.” He could have blame-gamed them  for the many times  they “dropped the ball.” Jesus could have played the shame-game with them reminding them of the times they were more interested in greatness and wanting to  be his “right-hand person.”  Oh! There was so much he could have said!  Instead, as God-flesh, as Grace-extension, Jesus shares intimate details of what a vital, vibrant relationship means now that they are in deep relationship with him:

  • “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love (vs. 9)
  • “Love each other as I [Jesus] have loved you. (vs. 12a)
  • “I have called you Friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you (vs.15c,d)
  • “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, and so whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
  • “This is my command:  Love each other.” (vs.17)

In his book of devotions, Just Like Jesus, Max Lucado writes these words  in his devotional titled, “The Basin of Water”: “I looked in the Bible for a verse that said Jesus washed all the disciples’ feet except the feet of Judas. I couldn’t find one.”

 Red Rover! Red Rover!  Let ______ come over!

 By the way, there is a reason I named my blog, SinnersRow.  There is always a place for anybody who wants to stop by and sit a spell.  Would you like a cup of coffee before you go?

ଓଡ଼ିଆ: କଳା କଫି

Community Coffee with Chicory–C’est si bon

Being from the South, we have our own unique sayings, such as: “fixin’ to,” “argue with a fence post,” “like a stuck hog” and “like white on rice.” If you don’t know the meaning of those Southern sayings, you might as well, well hear another one: “Like a bump on a log.” Some families have sayings unique to them. My sister, Loe, was telling me that she had spoken to a young man the other day who finds himself going bald at an early age. My sister told him to be sure and “slather” himself real good with sunscreen every day. If you don’t understand “slather,” just drop the “s” in the front of “slather” and you’ll understand. What’s important to know is “slather” is different from “lather.” You may lather your hands with soap, but if you “slather” them you get a lot more soap which means a lot more rinsing of the hand. In other words, when you “slather” something, it’s a whole lot more than when you “lather” something. By the way “slathering” is a real word which means: To spread or smear (a substance) thickly or liberally.” But enough of that for now! Consider layering.

I’ve been thinking a lot about layering the last couple of months. Consider winter. When its biting cold, it’s not unusual to hear people advising, “Layer-up before you go outside!” There have been times, on biting-cold mornings, that I layered up so much I looked like a locked-kneed, motorized robot. I guess you can say I went from layering to slathering. But enough of that for now!

Consider life (deep subject). As we know, life is inundated with ambiguous layerings. Anyone expecting it to be otherwise will be sorely disappointed. For the most part it’s not, “Do you want sugar or cream with your coffee? Or, do you want some pie with your coffee?” Life is not served up that easy, and most of the times the choices are not that simple.

Since the month of December, 2012, and the beginning of 2013, much of our national news has centered on life slathered with ambiguity. Consider, we know we need to do something to make our schools, and society in general, more safe from gun violence. Thus the roaring debate over gun laws! We look into the faces of parents who lost children at Sandy Hook Elementary, and then we look in the face of those who feel very strongly about protecting 2nd Amendment rights. Just days on the heel of the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, there began the Fiscal Cliff hoorah! Congress, whose popularity, is just below having a root canal, began determining who would pay more taxes and at the same time raising the anxiety level of those who would/could pay more taxes. But wait! On top of that, was another layering–how to insure that the poor, Social Security recipients and the elderly do not suffer from a reduction in their much-needed social services. Yes, life is layered with ambiguity! There’s a whole lot of slathering going on.

However, let’s lay aside those layering/slathering issues for a moment. Consider the World of Sports. What a slathering mess! In the last few days, sports enthusiasts have heard the 7 time World Champion of the Tour de France admit to doping. Issues of trust and integrity and honesty and anger and hurt have swirled in the sports world, not to mention those who have experienced great harm as a result of Lance Armstrong’s coup de gras (yes, L.A. really finished himself off) News of late has focused on the Heisman-nominee from Notre Dame–Manti Te’o. Here is a young man almost drowning in all the slather smeared on him! It must feel like you’ve been tossed in a wringer washing machine (I’ve already written about that in a previous blog)! And what about the millions who see athletes as role models. I mean, consider little six-year-old Jack Pinto, one of the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. Little Jack Pinto idolized wide-receiver Victor Cruz of the New York Giants. When Little Jack was buried, he was buried in a Victor Cruz New York Giants football jersey. Quoting a news article, it said, “On Sunday, wide receiver Victor Cruz, who was Jack’s idol and ‘hero,’ honored the boy by writing his name on both his cleats and gloves with the inscription “R.I.P Jack Pinto” and “My Hero.” And now, as young Jack is laid to rest, he will find peace wearing Cruz’s jersey.”

Which brings us to another slathering–Grief. Grief has many faces as we are reminded in Edgar Newman Jackson’s book, The Many Faces of Grief. Another thing, none of us are exempt from experiencing grief. It is not an exemption anyone can claim, like claiming an exemption on a tax form. Wouldn’t it be nice if such a form existed where there was a box to check: check here if exempt from grief. Such a line not exist!

Being a Christian who believes in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I know Jesus Christ was not exempt from the layering/slathering that came with being God in human form. His life was layered with the needs of the world clamoring at his feet, needs that begged for healing (the poor, the lame, the deaf, the broken-hearted), needs that begged for understanding in the form of forgiveness and restoration of people’s dignity, needs that came from those who “just didn’t get it, couldn’t get it or wouldn’t get it. (religious authorities, apathetic government leaders, and yes, even the “duh-ciples”) Thanks Leonard Sweet for that coined description of the followers of Jesus).

Of course, it didn’t matter whether those layered/slathered with oppressive needs or prejudices or lack of knowledge, etc., every person mattered and every person matters to God! You matter to God!! And, while layering/slathering life-experiences come our way, just as there is no exempting God’s love for us, there is no expiration-date on God’s love. As I’ve heard it said time and time again, “God loves you and there is nuthin’ you can do about it.”

So here we are: a bundle of layering/slathering life experiences and God’s love. What are we to do? PRAY. I can hear some saying with tongue in cheek, “Yeah! Right Spurlock!”

Well, I know this, we are not God! We are not God’s Son. We are children of God, who loves to hear us pour out our praise and thanksgiving, our pleas for others and our needs vocalized. I know God must enjoy conversation with us because as a father, I enjoy conversation with my children. PRAY.

Jesus, after long days of healing people, teaching people, feeding people, forgiving people, confronting people, he would withdraw to lonely places to pray, to spend time with God, to be restored, to be renewed, to have frank conversations with God and to surrender to God (Matthew 14:22-23; Matthew 26:36-46) Jesus prayed.

May we add this simple prayer to our prayers (whenever we say them):

Lord, un-layer us, please, Lord, un-slather us. Amen.


There is a reason why I named my blog SinnersRow. There is always a place here for each of us. So, thanks for stopping by! Would you like a cup of coffee before you go?

It was my first (and perhaps my last) white-water rafting experience of my life.  Before entering the raft with my fellow white-water rafters and shoving off from shore, there were several instructions shared with us. These were important instructions!  These were instructions applicable at some point during our tumultuous trip down river.

One of the first instructions I remember was–should your raft turn over and you find yourself in the water, do not fight the water! Relax, let your life-presever buoy you along.  Thank God for that instruction!  We had barely reached our first rapid when, you guessed it–over we went into that stirring, troubled, tumultuous water that resembled a washing machine on a heavy duty cycle!  To my knowledge, of all those in our raft,  there was only one remaining in the raft when it rolled.

Thrashing violently in the water,  feeling like the last human to be brought to the bottom of this gigantic “washing machine tub,” I remembered: relax, surrender, let the life-preserver buoy you.  I did and it did–I was immediately buoyed by my life-vest! The water was no less colder, no less “wash tubby,” no less swift and no less treacherous along the way.  Upon safely reaching our destination, which seemed like 40 days and 40 nights, I felt like I had been on a survival course and had not been warned, “If you decide to take on this mission you may have a near death experience!” OMG!

Most people I know have had experiences like this at some point in their lives, experiences my mother described as “winger washing machine” experiences. In case you do not know, there is a difference between a washing machine and a wringer washing machine. A washing machine has a agitator that agitates the water, but a wringer washing machine has not only an agitator it also has a mechanism attached to the top of the washing machine that you pass your clothes through two rollers to squish the water out of them. Wringer washing machine experiences wash you out, wring you out and leave you feeling weak as a new-born calf. Truth is, “IF crises made appointments, none of us would schedule them.” Someone has said, “The difference between a problem and a crisis is–a problem can be solved, you have to live through a crisis.” How true!

Which brings me to a thought I have been contemplating, something I think most people contemplate when faced with some cantankerous wringer washing machine crisis-RESIGNATION OR RELINQUISHMENT!

I must confess to you there have been times when, before I get to either resignation or relinquishment, my bull-headed, cantankerous side rears it’s head. You see, I’ve never been one who liked to surrender. Sometimes that has been a good thing, but mostly, it’s taught me a lesson, a lesson I hoped I’ve finally learned. When I do find myself blinded by my bull-headedness–HUMILIATION always waits in the wings.  Ugh!!

Truthfully, no one one is immune from such non-surrendering behavior. However, with age and growing wisdom, that is not where any of us have to stay.  There are times to surrender.  There are times when we need to rein in the self-will run riot.  There are times, as an old  Kenny Roger’s song says,  “You’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run….”   There are times to pray The Serenity Prayer and really act on what we have prayed: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, and the Wisdom to know the difference.”

Which brings us to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Richard Foster in his book, Prayer:  Finding the Heart’s True Home, has helped me as much as anyone to understand the difference between resignation and relinquishmnet. In his book he writes:

“…the Prayer of Relinquishment is Christian prayer and not fatalism. We do not resign ourselves to fate. Catherine Marshal writes (from her book,Beyond our Selves, p. 94) ‘Resignation is barren of faith in the love of God…. Resignation lies down quietly in the dust of the universe from which God seems to have fled, and the door of Hope swings shut’.”(p.50)

I can only imagine the anguish in Jesus’ heart as he prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane. It is unfathomable the depth of emotions he felt! What we do know he was not resigned to his fate. No, what he did was relinquish his will to his Father. Again, Foster:

“Here we have the perfect flowing into the will of the Father. ‘Your will be done’ was Jesus’ consuming concern. To applaud the will of God is not difficult…until it comes at cross-purposes with our will. Then the lines are drawn, the debate begins, and the self-deception takes over. But in the school of Gethsemane we learn that ‘my will, my way, my good” must yield to higher authority.” (p. 50

So, when those wringer washing machine experiences come our way (and they will come our way), may we be reminded there is one who buoys us more than a life-vest. Foster writes: “The Prayer of Relinquishment is a bone fide letting go, but it is a release with Hope.” (p.52)

Thanks for sitting a spell with me!  Before you go, would you like a cup of coffee?

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