Thursday, July 26, 2012


One day a man arrived from Baal Shalishah.  He brought the man of God twenty loaves of fresh baked bread from the early harvest, along with a few apples from the orchard.
   Elisha said, "Pass it around to the people to eat."
   His servant said, "For a hundred men?  There's not nearly enough!"
   Elisha said, "Just go ahead and do it.  God says there's plenty."
   And sure enough, there was.  He passed around what he had -- they not only ate, but had leftovers.
--  2 Kings 4:42-44 (The Message)

I've been thinking about obedience lately.  It's not an attitude or word most people think of in a positive way.  It's almost archaic.  It's kind of belittling nowadays to say that someone is obedient.  And yet, "obedience" has received a lot of attention this week.

Earlier in the week, I was reconsidering the advice of two people, two leaders in my church, on how to proceed with a personal matter.  They had each advised me to wait.  I did not want to wait.  I wanted to follow my own instincts, my own lead.  Then I read the lectionary for that day:  "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls and will give an account." (Hebrew 13:17)  Needless to say, all the resistance in me subsided, and I resigned myself to following their advice.  For I have learned to listen to words that answer my thoughts so well as that.
Then, again the following day, "obedience" came up when I was applying for a job, online.  I had to take a personality/psychological test as part of the company's application process.  The first question I had trouble with, very early in the test, was:  "Would your friends say you are obedient?"

Hmmmm.  Well, first of all, whether I am obedient or not, I seriously doubt that my friends would describe me this way.  It's an odd thing to say:  "She is obedient."  Second of all, am I obedient?  The recent struggle described above came to mind.  Sometimes I am obedient.  Most of the time, actually, I follow the rules, the norms of our society, the law, the advice of people in authority, especially wise and experienced leaders.  But not always.  Sometimes, for very important matters, I have had to disagree with people, even people in positions of authority over me, even people of greater experience than me, and insist on an alternative way.   But always, in these crucial matters, I have felt that I was listening to God, my ultimate authority.

However, on the test, I wasn't able to say all that.  I had to choose between "Strongly Disagree", "Disagree", "Neutral", "Agree" or "Strongly Agree".  I chose "Neutral."  And as I progressed through the test, this question of authority kept coming up.  "Do you like to challenge authority?"  "Do you always follow the advice of your supervisor?"  Clearly this was an important consideration for this company, whether for or against obedience I wasn't sure -- though I suspected that they were for it. 

Other questions on the test had to do with how one makes decisions.  "Do you consider all of the facts before you make a decision?"  "Do you consider peoples' feelings when making a decision?"  "Do you think of how a decision would impact the future?"  "Are your decisions based upon what could realistically be accomplished?"

Isn't it interesting how differently the world works compared to how God works?  We are encouraged to consider all of the facts, to think of the impact of our decisions on ourselves or others.  We certainly are not encouraged to base our decisions on something that cannot be realistically accomplished.  And yet God asks us to do seemingly impossible things.  Never mind whether it makes sense logically or not.  Never mind about the future.  Never mind whether we actually have the strength to do them or not.  Never mind whether we even want to do them or not.

For example, God asks us to fed the hungry.  God asks us to sell our goods to help the poor.  God asks us to take care of the sick, the orphan.  God asks us to visit the lonely, the imprisoned.  Primarily, God asks us to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The question is, do we obey?  Do I obey?

Not always. Sometimes I think more about myself than about my neighbor.

Like the other day, when I saw a man asking for help on the corner.  The only thing I had in my wallet was a twenty dollar bill.  I thought, "Wow, that's a lot of money.  My budget is tight this week.  I may need some of that later."  I wondered what else I could give him.  Since the kids and I had just picked up some food to take home for lunch, I thought about giving him some of that.  But then I thought, "No, if I give him some of our food, then we won't have enough."  Later, as I sat in the kitchen of our house, with some of the food from lunch left entirely untouched, I realized that I had once again failed to listen to God.

We have so much, I thought, and I fail way too often to help those in need.

Full of remorse, I vowed to do things differently the next time.  After all, what if the man on the street corner had been my brother?

This is not exactly a hypothetical question.  My brother has been out of work for nearly two years.  He is about to lose his house.  He is one very short step away from begging on a street corner.  Since I don't want my brother to go hungry, I help pay for his food.  Since I don't want my brother to die, I pay for his medicine.  Thankfully, with the help of my husband, I can afford this.  But now, since I don't want my brother to live on the streets, will I pay for his shelter?  Yes, I will.  Even though I don't know how we will manage that at the moment. 

So, since I will do all within my power, and with God's help, all beyond my power, to help my brother, why do I not do this for others as well? Why do I not see them as my brother, or sister -- as Jesus taught us?

There is still so much for me to learn on this journey of faith.

Dear God, thank you for being with me despite my failures, and for providing me with all the help and guidance I need to follow your will.  Love always, Pam

Thursday, July 19, 2012

My Bowl, My Soul

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.   --   Psalm 23:1-3a

I've been thinking about stress a lot the last few days -- because I am feeling stressed-out, and I don't like it!  Usually when I am stressed-out, I am unaware of just how stressed-out I am.  Do you know what I mean?  I'm too much in the thick of things.  But this time around I am very much aware of how my body is reacting to the stress I'm under.  I can almost feel my blood pressure rising.  I keep waking up at 1 a.m., feeling angry and frustrated, obsessing over things beyond my control. 

Now, waking up in the middle of the night is not unusual for me.  Whenever I am very much in my head, this usually happens.  I've gotten used to it.  And usually it doesn't bother me.  I just get up, write my thoughts down in my journal, and spend some time reading, and gaining some insight or solace into what I'm thinking about.

But this time, the lack of sleep is just making me feel even more stressed.  It's making me feel even more irritated, which I am not doing a very good job of controlling.  The resulting bad behavior on my part is further contributing to my stress.  It's a merry-go-round that is making me feel ill.

Something has to change, but what?  What am I doing wrong?  Why can I not find some relief from my usual devotions?

I wondered if maybe I need some other way to relieve stress.  And since I have been reading about Taoism, I thought of meditation.  A few days ago, I re-read the words from my last posting: "Bide in silence, and the radiance of the spirit shall come in and make its home."  These  words resonated with me for days.

One of the things Taoism teaches is detachment.  When I first read about this, I thought that in this regard Taoism and Christianity are different from each other.  For I would never describe Jesus as detached.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  But now I'm thinking that a little detachment would be a good thing.  It would be helpful if I could release my ill-feelings, let them go completely.  If meditation can help me with that, then I need to learn to meditate.

At the same time, I've been thinking about music, about making music.  Music is one of the things that really moves my soul.  But I am not a musician.  I'm not even sure that I can carry a tune.  But still, I keep thinking that I should sit down at our keyboard and loose myself in the sound of the keys.  I wonder if maybe I could meditate this way.  I don't do this, however, because it just seems like a really odd thing to do.

During Bible Study last night, the words above resonated with my recent experiences, they reminded me again of meditation.  Maybe this is the "still water" that I need to sit beside.  Maybe this is how God will "restore my soul"  and bring me peace of mind.  When I shared this with my study mates, one friend recommended that I get a meditation bowl.  I know what she is talking about.

I said, "Oh, I have one of those.  But I never use it.  Well... I use it to hold stuff."

And suddenly I realize that that is exactly my problem. 

A Tibetan meditation bowl is meant to be empty.  It symbolizes being open and available to whatever comes into your life.  A meditation bowl will make a single, beautiful, resonating note, when it is empty, held gently in the palm of one hand, and slowly but firmly rubbed along its edge.  My bowl is being used as a storage container.

My bowl is like my soul.  It is so full of "stuff" that I cannot find the rest I need.  I need to empty my bowl.  And then maybe I will be able to hear the music it can make.

This morning I read the words of Susan Quinn, the author of "The Deepest Spiritual Life:  The Art of Combining Personal Spiritual Practice with Religious Community:

    "The focus of my personal evening prayers is on forgiveness, because inevitably I have acted in ways that have been detrimental to others and I desire forgiveness, or others have acted in ways that have disappointed or hurt me, and I have the opportunity to forgive them.  Forgiveness is difficult for many of us, because it is so much easier to be angry with others, to be self-righteous about our disappointments in others or remorseful about our own failings.  But when we don't forgive, we create barriers not only between ourselves and others, but between ourselves and the Divine.  There is little room or energy for love, gratitude and compassion, and for connecting with God, when we are preoccupied with our anger, hurt, disillusionment or fear. ... to forgive is to honor the struggles I share with others..." (pg 45).

I feel as if Susan Quinn is holding up a mirror.  The last line especially hits home.  I certainly am not perfect.  I don't have to look very far to see this.  So why do I expect other people to be perfect?

The words of Jesus have also come to mind lately:  Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.  I had always thought that Jesus was telling his leading disciples to judge between right and wrong behavior.  But now I see it differently.  Now I wonder if Jesus was holding up a mirror: whatever you hold onto, will stay with you forever; whatever you let go of, will be let go of forever.  It is my choice to bind and loosen.  And that will reflect itself in my life.

The more negativity I hold onto and the more junk there is in my soul, then the less room there is for God to come in and teach me what I need to know.  Just like I must keep my meditation bowl empty in order to hear the music it plays, so too I must empty myself occasionally so that God can feed my soul.

In this Sunday's readings are the following words of Paul:  For he [Jesus] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.  He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace...  (Ephesians 2:14-16)

Hostility or peace.  Now what would I rather hold onto?  It's not a hard question to answer -- is it?

Dear God,  you are my Shepherd.  Thank you once again for loving me so well, and for being so patient with me.  I am humbled and grateful.  Love always, Pam

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Whole Life

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet; righteousness and peace will kiss each other.  Faithfulness will spring up from the ground, and righteousness will look down from the sky.  -- Psalm 85:10-11

At the beginning of the week, I was reading about Taoism.  I was fascinated to find the Eternal Tao described in language similar to how I think of God, and of Jesus.  Huston Smith writes about it in "The World's Religions" as follows:  "Though Tao is ultimately transcendent, it is also immanent.  ...for when Tao enters this second mode it 'assumes flesh' and informs all things."  (pg. 198)   Selflessness, inner peace, and self-knowledge are keys to actualizing Tao within.  "'Bide in silence, and the radiance of the spirit shall come in and make its home.'  ... And when the realization arrives, what then?  With it come truth, joy, and power." (pg. 203)  With words like "assumes flesh", "bide", "spirit", "truth", and "joy," is it any wonder that I thought of Jesus?

"Taoism's approach is ... to get the foundations of the self in tune with Tao and let behavior flow spontaneously.  Action follows being." (pg 208)  This too reminded me of the words of Jesus:  Seek first the kingdom of God, and everything else will follow.   Taoism is very metaphysical, spiritual, and inward-looking.  In contrast, China's other religion, Confucianism, is very practical, ethical, outward-looking.  It contains the nuts and bolts of living righteously with one's fellow man.  Hundreds of individual ethical sayings and anecdotes comprise Confucius' Analects.

Confucius placed his program for right living firmly in the world.  "The self is a center of relationships.  It is constructed through its intersections with others and is defined by the sum of its social roles." (pg 180)  Confucianism is structured around expanding concentric circles from the self.  These circles "include successively one's family, one's face-to-face community, one's nation, and finally all humanity." (pg 182).  It was not about self-sufficiency, but inter-dependency.

In China, people follow both Taoism and Confucianism.  These two ways complement each other.  They are like yin and yang, opposites that, though in tension with each another, are not opposed to each other.  They balance one other.  As Huston Smith describes, "Each [half of the yin-yang symbol] invades the others' hemisphere and takes up its abode in the deepest recess of its partner's domain.  And in the end both find themselves resolved by the circle that surrounds them, the Tao in its eternal wholeness." (pg 208)

Both of these ways -- the inward, spiritual path, and the outward, ethical path -- are combined in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic faiths.  The two greatest commandments -- to love God with all our being, and to love our neighbor as ourselves  -- comprise the spiritual and ethical backbone of all three of these faiths.

To me, the cross of Christ also perfectly symbolizes these two ways.   The vertical stem of the cross, planted in the ground, reminds me of my connection to God.  The horizontal stem of the cross, reminds me of the arms of Jesus, or my own arms, embracing the world around me, embracing my neighbor.  The cross is not the cross without both pieces morticed together.
The words in Psalm 85, above, also perfectly capture this unionThese ingredients are essential for living a whole life.

But what does it really mean to live a "whole" life?   As the yin-yang symbol and the cross of Christ illustrate, it means that we live a connected life.  Staying connected to God and neighbor is key.

What keeps me connected to my neighbor who is so different from me?

Love.  Plain and simple.

I know this because whenever I do that which is not loving, or whenever someone does something that is not loving towards me, I feel a disconnect, a distance, a break, to greater or lesser degree, between myself and that person.

Staying connected requires both spiritual discipline and communal discipline.  I can only learn in part by observing, reading, sharing, and listening to, all that God brings into my life.  I must also learn by doing, by living in community with others, and by embracing the comforts as well as the challenges of that.  And, unfortunately, that means that I will make mistakes along the way.  This way of life requires an open mind and an open heart, because I must be able to acknowledge my transgressions.  I must also be able to forgive the transgressions of others, and repair the breach, if possible.  It requires a complete commitment of body and soul.

The result is a strange dichotomous life of great joy and pain, depending on whether I am feeling connected or feeling disconnected from my neighbor or from God.

It is, however, a whole, and fully lived life.

Dear God, thank you for loving me so steadfastly, and for patiently teaching me every step of the way what it is I need to know and do.  Love always, Pam

Footnote:  The yin-yang symbol is from Google Images:; and the cross is from Google Images:

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Divine Intervention

"But you, mortal, hear what I say to you.... open your mouth and eat what I give you.  I looked and a hand was stretched out to me, and a written scroll was in it.  ... He said to me, O mortal, eat what is offered to you; eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.  So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat.  He said to me, Mortal, eat this scroll that I give you and fill your stomach with it.  Then I ate it; and in my mouth it was as sweet as honey."  --  Ezekiel 2:8 - 3:3

The other day, I was talking to my pastor about a multitude of things over a nice, long lunch.  Our conversation began with the topic of prayer, continuing a conversation we had begun earlier, as we tried to put into words our understanding of how God answers prayer.   We both acknowledged that sometimes God does not answer our prayers as we would like.  Sometimes we ask God to change things for us, and nothing changes.  But then we had also both experienced times when we felt God was very close to us, very present in our lives.

My pastor said that perhaps prayer is really a way for us to stay connected with God.  And I agreed.  That is how I experience prayer.  It is for me, more like a conversation, in which my thoughts and concerns are heard, and I am given information, usually in the books I read, that addresses those specific thoughts and concerns, but takes me further, and which guides me to a better understanding of myself, my world, and what I should be doing.  "I can't explain it." I said.  The connections between my thoughts and the words I find in the books I read happens too often for me to think it is mere coincidence.  It's not as if I go looking for answers either, I explained.  I wander through a bookstore, usually looking for one specific kind of book, and something else catches my eye, which addresses other, deeper concerns.  I have, however, learned to trust these uncanny coincidences, and allow them to guide me.

Our conversation turned to talking about personality types, since I had started reading about it and found the topic immensely intriguing.  My husband and I are opposites in many ways, and my hope is that by understanding personality types, I will be able to see the differences between us in a more positive light, as more of a necessary balance than as a battleground.  Surprisingly, in a rather circuitous way, this topic led us back to prayer, because I have felt God's continual guidance throughout my marriage, keeping me and my husband committed to loving one another, despite our differences.

My pastor was reminded of a recently-watched movie, "Fools Rush In," in which the main character leaves his bride, who is so different from him, and then experiences a pile of coincidences which continually remind him of his bride and causes him to return to her.   I, too, had recently watched a movie, "Deja Vu," in which the main characters experience a series of coincidences that creates a turning point in their lives.  And I shared the fact that I believe God brought my husband and I together in a somewhat similar way.

A year before I even met my future husband, I had a dream in which I was handed a picture of a dark-haired young man in a blue suit and tie.  In my dream I felt that I was being told that this was the man I was meant to be with, not the one I was engaged to at the time.  The dream provided a answer to a hounding question, and I ended my engagement shortly afterward.  Towards the end of my freshman year in college, I met the man I would marry.  After we had been dating for a few weeks, and before we headed in different directions for the summer, he handed me a copy of his high school senior portrait, taken two years earlier.  It was the picture in my dream.  Only then did I make the connection, and experience a feeling of deja vu

After the lunch and great conversation with my pastor, I went to my favorite used bookstore to look in the psychology section for more information about personality types.  As I browsed the shelves, I saw a book with an intriguing title:  "The Tao of Psychology."  On the back cover I read, "Who hasn't experienced that eerie coincidence, that sudden, baffling insight, that occasional flash of extrasensory perception that astonishes?  Can these events be dismissed as mere chance, or do they have some deeper significance for us?"  And I discovered upon reading a little more that C. G. Jung coined the word "synchronicity" for the unexplained coincidences between thoughts, feelings, visions, or dreams, and external events.  The author of this book, Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D., draws connections between Jung's theory of synchronicity and Taoism, between right-brain and left-brain personality types, and between the individual and the eternal world. 

Dr. Bolen writes, "In the experience of a synchronistic event, instead of feeling ourselves to be separated and isolated entities in a vast world, we feel the connection to others, and the universe at a deep and meaningful level. ... Synchronistic events are the clues that point to the existence of an underlying connecting principle." (pg 23, 36)  Jung called that underlying connection the collective unconscious.  Dr. Bolen calls it the eternal Tao, and includes within her understanding other names for the eternal Tao, such as Source, the Infinite, the Ineffable, the One, and God, as well as The Way, Meaning, and logos. (pg.3)

Although these synchronistic events are thought to happen quite frequently, our awareness of them varies from person to person.  Dr. Bolen supposes that differences between peoples' awareness has to do with personality characteristics, with whether we are more right-brained or left brained.  Dr. Bolen also states that such awareness is in large part due to whether you believe such things are possible or not.   I wonder if maybe that, too, has to do with personality characteristics. 

Despite these different ways of seeing the world, Dr. Bolen states that relying on only one way creates 'blindspots' for each group.  We should neither abdicate logical reasoning nor the spiritual dimension.  "Because thinking and the five sense perceptions are processed in one cerebral hemisphere and because symbolic, intuitive functions seem to be located in the other, when we consider input from both logical and symbolic sources we can see the whole picture." (pg 48).  I was happy to read that logical reasoning, which is my husband's strength, and intuitive understanding, which is mine, provide a necessary balance to one another.

Making one final connection to my thoughts, near the end of her book Dr. Bolen writes, "Prayer evokes the same psychological state of hopeful expectancy.  ... The hopeful expectancy that there is 'something' beyond the ego ... that 'something greater' is directly experienced in an intuitively felt way:  one then 'knows' the answer, or 'knows' God, or experiences the Tao. ... 'Divine intervention' can take many forms....  A creative solution may emerge from within our minds, or an amazing synchronicity may occur that solves the situation, or a dream may provide direction or the answer may come in meditation (all forms of 'divine intervention').  Depending on the metaphor for this process, an individual may experience this 'divine intervention' either within a religious context or totally without religious reference."  However it is perceived, the resulting discovery creates within the individual a profound feeling of joy, or a feeling of grace. (pg 80)

As I read this book, and found so many connections to my earlier conversation with my pastor and my thoughts, I was continually astonished.  How else to explain it, but as some sort of divine intervention?  What else could lead me to find this particular book?  The only way for me to explain it is that some entity beyond me, which I call God, is interested in me, and is taking care of me every step of the way.   

Whenever we find such wonder, we must share it.  And in that way, the connection continues.

Dear God, thank you once again for showing me how I am connected to you and the world around me.  Your word comes to me from many sources and enriches my life beyond measure.  It fills me with gratitude and love which must be shared with others to be complete.  Love always, Pam

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

"What Does It Matter?"

They turn round and round by his guidance, to accomplish all that he commands them on the face of the habitable world.  Whether for correction, or for his land, or for love, he causes it to happen.  --  Job 37:12-13

This passage came up again in the Daily Lectionary recently.  It was in the Daily Lectionary a month ago as well, and I  wrote about it in Living in Christian Community  So very rarely does the same passage from the same verse get repeated in the Daily Lectionary that its coming up again was significant to me.  It was also significant because I have been somewhat haunted by something I wrote in that earlier posting.  I was writing about the great diversity among Christians, and trying to understand how I should respond to this diversity.  In particular, I was trying to sort through how I ought to respond to others who think so very differently than I do.

This is something I wrestle with quite frequently because Christian unity is very important to me, and I believe to God, as well.  I see Christian unity as encompassing every aspect of my life, not just the life of the church.  I see it influencing the way I relate to the people in my church, the people of other Christian denominations, the people of other faiths, and the people I work with, and the people I live with.  In every aspect of life, I meet with people who think differently than I do.  How I respond to this diversity as a Christian is the great question of my life.

Over the years, I have learned that Christian unity is more about forming a cohesive group among those who think differently than it is about forming a cohesive group of like-minded people.  For if you love your brother only what more are you doing than others?  That is the key to Christian unity:  loving those who think so differently than you do.

There are essential rewards inherent in maintaining such unity.  We learn more from those who are different from us than from those who think just like we do.   We need that diversity to grow into the people God wants us to be.  And sometimes we actually need our opposites to provide us with a much needed balance.

One of the things I find so fascinating about the Bible is the great diversity to be found within it, in particular the opposing characterizations of God.  God is a god of judgment and mercy.  God is a god of law and gospel.  These opposites provide a necessary balance and a check to each other.  Too much mercy, and people will take God for granted; too much judgment and people will turn away.  There is good reason for all these diverse writings to be held together as our Scriptures.  The people who gathered these diverse writings together valued the diverse viewpoints to be found among God's people.  I, too, value the diversity. 

But, there is a limit to  Christian unity, and this I know very well also.  There is a limit for most people in terms of the diversity they are willing to accept and include within their circle.  For some people, simply being of another denomination is too much.  For some people, being of another faith is too much. Jesus, too, set limits, on what was an acceptable belief, and he was not beyond contradicting what was scriptural law to illustrate this point.  For Jesus, if one's belief was not loving towards God or neighbor then that belief needed to be questioned and countermanded.  This is the limit I try to follow, and what I tried to convey a month ago in that earlier posting:  If no one is harmed by one's beliefs, then, I wrote, "[W]hat does it matter?"  That sentence, however, has haunted me since I wrote it.

Don't get me wrong.  I still hold to this line.  If anyone is harmed by anyone's beliefs, then that person's beliefs cannot be approved of or ignored.  That person must be shown in the most loving, yet forthright, way possible that their beliefs are harmful.

At the time I wrote it, I was thinking more about the harm that is caused by excluding those who think differently, than I was about the harm that can be caused by specific beliefs.  However, since then, I have been made aware of the fact that some beliefs actually can cause harm in their own right.  These beliefs do not work to provide a much needed balance.  They actually cause harm.

There are probably many such beliefs.  However, the belief that I was trying so hard to accept and include as one of the many beliefs illustrating the great diversity of Christianity, is the belief that God does not answer prayers.  Since that posting, I have been shown just how harmful this belief can be. 

Belief in the efficacy of prayer and belief in a benevolent God go hand-in-hand.  If you think that God is so distant from humankind that God does not intervene in any way, not even to answer prayers, then why believe in God at all?  For a person of faith, that is an unreasonable, and an even harmful, belief.

It is especially harmful in moments of crisis, when the hope that God will answer your prayer is the only hope you have.  Moments of crisis come to everyone.  Moments of crisis often test our faith.  We pray for deliverance.  We pray for acceptance.  But neither prayer is answered.  If one begins to believe at this moment that God does not answer prayers, then one is a short step away from disbelieving God altogether. And, if that were to happen, then that person would be truly lost and alone. 

The only answer to such dark nights of the soul, which come to even the greatest saints, is to trust more deeply in God.  For God can only answer those who put their complete trust in him.  Only when we completely trust that God can help us, can God help us.  Very often the problem is not that God is not answering our prayers,but that we are not listening.  Sometimes God's answer comes in a quiet unexpected whisper.  And if we do not take the time to quiet ourselves and open our ears and eyes to what comes to us, we will miss God's word for us entirely.  Sometimes all we need to do to hear God's answer to our prayers is to trust that it will come, and to open our hearts to his answer, however it may come and whatever it may be.

Faith, hope, and love.  All three are intertwined, and essential.

Dear God, thank you for bringing this passage to my attention again, and calling me to rectify my previous posting.  I hope that this new posting brings hope to those without hope, and comfort to those without comfort.  Love always, Pam