What Path Do You Choose?
By Carol DeSchepper, Spiritual Director, ELPNA Executive Director
Your unfailing love, O Lord, is as vast as the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds.
How precious is your unfailing love, O God!
All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36:5, 7
Psalm 36 is a Psalm of contrasts. Verses 5-9 including those above are filled with glorious images and promises of God’s love and faithfulness. However, in the early verses of the Psalm we get a portrait of the wicked and their ways. Admittedly the world is filled with both kinds of people. There are wicked people who plot to destroy and make no attempt to turn from evil. In contrast there are those who walk in God’s paths (though none of us do it perfectly) and reap the wondrous gifts described.
This is a choice that we make daily. What path are you on? How do you course correct when you start going down the wrong path? I suspect many of us have been there at some point. We may know and pray for others who are not enjoying God’s unfailing love.
My Stephen Ministry group is just completing a study of Max Lucado’s book Grace: More Than We Deserve – Greater Than We Imagine. There he writes “He [God] dispenses his goodness not with an eyedropper but a fire hydrant. Your heart is a Dixie cup, and his grace is the Mediterranean Sea. You simply can’t contain it all.” So whether we are drinking in God’s love, His faithfulness, or His grace, God’s goodness washes over us in abundance, if we love Him. We can set ourselves up as personal idols, convincing ourselves that we can live however we want without consequences to ourselves or others. Or we can choose to live in the tender care of the One who is loves us unconditionally. What is your choice?
God of abundance. Help me to choose your path and shelter me in the shadow of your wings. Amen
By Carol DeSchepper, Spiritual Director, ELPNA Executive Director
The salvation of the just is from the Lord; he is their refuge in time of distress. And the Lord helps them and delivers them; He delivers them from the wicked and saves them because they take refuge in Him. Psalm 37:39-40
It’s difficult for me to stay consistently positive these days. Some days I feel afraid, frustrated and overwhelmed. There have been long months of Covid infections and deaths – more than we ever imagined in early 2020. I respect and express my deep gratitude to those in healthcare who have endured the months of endless stress and personal risk. Now we have vaccines but things won’t change overnight. Then there are the election results that, as of this writing, continue to result in divisive, destructive, and rancorous behavior. Some are still out of work and businesses have folded. Tucked away under the endless concerns about Covid are others who are lonely, lacking the basic necessities of life, immigrants still in limbo about their future, people lacking access to adequate health care, and too many who still live with injustice, violence, poverty, and oppression.
The world feels askew, out of balance, filled with violence, angst, and short sighted decisions that are clearly inconsistent with Gospel values. I feel like we are at war with our words and our spirits. We don’t need weaponry. We come up with plenty of our own ‘guns’ and ‘swords’ by the way we judge others, proliferate hatred and fail to love, and spew repulsive rhetoric in every direction. We sometimes are so consumed by the battles we fight that in the midst of them, we look inward and try to rely on our own strength, rather than seek God’s truth and might.
Thankfully, we don’t all live in this place of despair each day. We know well that there is no guarantee of exemption from suffering. After all, who hasn’t been through heartaches in life? Be assured, my friends, that evil and suffering do not and will not have the final word. Today I remind you that God shelters us under His wings during the most difficult times in life. He walks through the valleys with us. He is our stronghold, our shield, and our comforter. The scriptures are filled with His promises. Claim them and let their truth inspire you to abundant hope. Without them our spirits will never be transformed to trust and to share love, and the peace of Christ will not settle in our souls.
God of hope, embrace us in our moments of fear, discouragement and hopelessness. Fill us with your truth and wrap us in your love. You whisper peace and we sense your presence. May we live with open hands and hearts to receive your generous gifts. In your name we pray. Amen.
God Pause Daily Devotion
Looking for spiritual refreshment? God Pause email devotions are short, meaningful reflections on the following Sunday's lessons and gospel delivered directly to your email box. By Sunday, you'll be ready for an extra meaningful worship experience.
Resources for Spiritual Development
Spiritual Resources from Benetvision and Joan Chittister
BENETVISION IS NOW OPEN. LET US CONTINUE TO SUPPORT AND UPHOLD ONE ANOTHER AS WE MOVE THROUGH THIS CRISIS.
“Lent is a summons to live anew,” writes Joan Chittister. But how do you do that? In the 2021 Lenten pamphlet, To Live Anew, she offers insight into how “living anew” might look in these extraordinary times of pandemic and political upheaval.
for the web site: http://joanchittister.org/
Center for Action and Contemplation
Fr. Richard Rohr
Fr. Richard Rohr is a Franciscan of the New Mexico Province and the Founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Amidst a time of planetary change and disruption, we envision a recovery of our deep connection to each other and our world, led by Christian and other spiritual movements that are freeing leaders and communities to overcome dehumanizing systems of oppression and cooperate in the transforming work of Love.
Open the door for a critical mass of spiritual seekers to experience the transformative wisdom of the Christian contemplative tradition and nurture its emergence in service to the healing of our world.
Spiritual Direction – Seeking a Spiritual Companion
Spiritual direction is, in reality, nothing more than a way of leading us to see and obey the real Director — the Holy Spirit hidden in the depths of our soul. (Thomas Merton, Trappist monk, USA)
Some of you may wish to seek a spiritual director as a way to nurture your own spirituality. This document briefly describes what spiritual direction is, identifies common misconceptions about spiritual direction, and gives you ideas on how to find a spiritual director. Spiritual maturity and growth is critical for the parish nurse. As you support others wholistically, tending to your own soul is important. Spiritual Direction is only one way of keeping yourself on solid footing spiritually. You might have other disciplines and practices that meet this need for you.
Please Click here for a more indepth discussion of Spiritual Direction by Carol DeSchepper,
including a web site to locate a Spiritual Director in your area.
Melissa's Prayer Journal: The Power of Prayer in the Face of Cancer
A resource for faith encouragement and development, especially for people with health issues. In her letters to God, Melissa perfectly illustrates the power of positive coping in any circumstance! Give this book to anyone struggling with faith, health, or life issues, and let them learn Melissa’s secret for thriving in spite of difficulties!
Web sites for Spiritual Renewal and Growth
This is a wonderful spiritual resource from author and retreat and conference speaker, and spiritual "midwife"". Joyce has a B.A. in English, a M.R. E. in Religious Education, and a M.A. in Transpersonal Psychology. She is a member of the Servites (Servants of Mary) Community and was a volunteer for Hospice for fifteen years. She currently resides in Des Moines, Iowa. To sign up for her monthly newsletter go to email@example.com.