BREATHING UNDER WATER WEEK 3 – IT’S ALL UP TO US…IT’S ALL UP TO GOD
WEEK 3 – IT’S ALL UP TO US…IT’S ALL UP TO GOD (Sermon March 19)
BY ALICE LONOFF
Our Online Lenten Devotion uses Richard Rohr’s book, Breathing Under Water and Pastor Melissa Earley’s sermon series on the book. Rohr connects the Gospel and the Twelve Step Program. Addiction can be a helpful metaphor for sin as it helps us know how God can heal us in the depth of our soul. Each week, we will add a few discussion questions and our own reflection. Please join the discussion by commenting in the comments box.
Step 6. We’re entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character
From the Richard Rohr companion journal: Step six manages to talk paradoxically. It says that we must first fully own and admit that we have “defects of character,” but then equally, step back and do nothing about it, as it were, until we are “entirely ready” to let God do the job.
So which comes first? Our work, or God’s grace? As Melissa said in her sermon on Sunday – “both, at the same time”. . . we must work, but we also must be ready for God’s grace.
When have you had an experience of letting go and letting God? When did you get in God’s way, believing that you had a better answer?
There was a time in my life that I felt God was giving me direction. But I did not like that direction. I just could not (or would not) follow it. Many many years later, I realize how different my life might have been had I followed that initial advice. I think I would have avoided a lot of pain and grief. But after years of work, I think I may finally be where God wants me to be. He did not abandon me. He walked with me through the tough and thorny path I ended up choosing for me. I have realized that God is patient with us. He does not give up on us when we ignore his excellent advice and direction. It is sort of like the old GPS car device — when you take a wrong turn, and the direction lady says, nonjudgmentally, “Recalculating Route.”
Melissa spoke about how God waits for us to knock. As Rohr states: “God is humble and never comes if not first invited, but God will find some clever way to get invited.
Step 7. Humbly asked [God] to remove our shortcomings.
From the Richard Rohr companion journal: We ask not to change God but to change ourselves. We pray to form a living relationship, not to get things done. Prayer is a symbiotic relationship with life and with God, a synergy that creates a result larger than the exchange itself.
Rohr continues: . . . the answer to every prayer is one, the same, and the best: The Holy Spirit! (Luke 11:13).
How have your prayers changed throughout your life? How are prayer and grace linked? How would you describe Grace?
When I was young, I had a simple and literal understanding of Matthew 7:7. Ask and it shall be given. When my mother became very ill, it never occurred to me that she might die. The whole church was praying for her. Our whole family was praying for her. We were asking that she be healed. Then one night my father came home from the hospital, wrapped his arms around my sister and me and said, “it is the worst news of all tonight.” Wait, what? I was 14. It took me a moment to digest what he was saying. How could that be? For many many years afterward I could not bring myself to pray a prayer of petition. When my children were growing up I never had them say the typical prayers. I just could not in good faith model that kind of prayer.
Gradually I have gotten to the point of asking God for guidance. How best can I help this person or that person. How do I deal with a tricky situation. I have come to believe that in Matthew, God is telling us that if we are seeking to do God’s will, and if our heart is seeking guidance from God to carry out what He wants done, and if we sit still and listen with an open heart, perhaps we will get the help we seek. It may not come immediately, but if we continue to be open to God’s guidance, it will come.
I would define Grace as the undeserved and unearned love of God. God is always standing at the ready to give it to us, but as noted earlier God does not impose himself on us. We are forgiven before we even know to ask. That, to me, is Grace.
3/22 7:00 pm Fellowship Planning meeting
3/26 11:15 am Agape Meets
3/26 5:30 pm Breathing Under Water class discussion
3/26 No children/youth sunday school or youth group (spring break)
3/27 7:00 pm Covenant Bible Study
3/28 7:00 pm Line Dance