Sunday, March 13, 2011

A first Pause in Lent 2011 - Are you listening?

Well, of course you're not listening, you're reading! However, that question is the one I've found helpful so far this Lent. I'll write more about that in a moment, after reminding you that there are now a good number of bloggers joining this weekly Pause in the run-up to Easter, and that you can find their names and visit them via the list to your left on my sidebar. Thank you very much to everyone who is joining in and those of you who are visiting - if you'd like to join, just let me know in your comment on this post.
So, I started this week with very little idea of what I might do during Lent, apart from blogging! I had bought a book, called Oh God, Why? from the Bible Reading Fellowship, but wasn't too sure if it was the right choice - it was pretty much a random selection from their Lent books listed on their website.
Things started coming together last Sunday, when Joanne, my father's minister, preached on the subject: 'Are you listening?'. Following the service, Son 1, my dad, and I pieced together these memories of her sermon points:
Are you listening at all?
Are you listening enough?
Are you listening selectively?
We think there was one more point, but we couldn't remember it. Son 2, who was clearly there in body but not necessarily in mind or spirit, didn't contribute to this discussion!
So I think that listening to Joanne set me off on being just a bit more receptive to listening to God, and I certainly needed that. Firstly, a passage that I've been given hundreds of times but never really appreciated came to my attention:
"Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is praiseworthy, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
Paul wrote this in his letter to the Philippians, chapter 4 verse 23.
I have to be honest - I've always found it a slightly irritating verse before, kind of akin to the songs 'Keep on the Sunny Side' and 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' (which at least is ironic). It just seemed to say: 'don't think about what's real or even about what interests you, just think of sweet pretty pointless nothings'. Whilst I knew in my head that this wasn't what it meant, that was the reaction it created in me.
But when it impinged on my consciousness last week (through a novel Elizabethd loaned me - thank you!) it seemed like I should write it down in my Gratitude Journal, and then that evening, when I came rather depressed and worried to write a list of things to say 'Thank You' for, the real meaning (or A real meaning) of that verse came through loud and clear:
'You are worried that your father is still unwell, but instead look at how he is getting better every day of your visit.'
'You are anxious about how he will cope when you go, but instead look at the physical and moral strength he shows.'
''You are dwelling on the practical challenges of your visit, but instead look at how the boys are having a wonderful time, full of new memories, with their grandfather.'
There was, of course, nothing changed in the situation, but I had been dwelling quite single-mindedly on the things that worried me, and completely ignoring the things that were noble, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. So for me, this verse became not an exhortation to ignore reality and think of fluffy stuff, but a challenge to see what is good in real life.
Last night my Lent book, Oh God, Why?, had the reading where Moses tells his people to 'Choose life'.
The author of my book commented: 'The message is being given to us on our journey: "Choose life, not death." It seems an unnecessary piece of advice, for what sane person would choose death?
He then went on to suggest:
'It is a very useful exercise to take a piece of paper, divide it into two columns, one headed 'Events which bring me to life', and the other 'Events which deaden me', then scribble down whatever comes to mind. Keep the list, and add to it whenever another item occurs to you. If you persist, the list will lengthen, and you may discover that you give more time and attention to the things which deaden than to those which enliven.'

It seems that things are coming together as I make a rather disjointed attempt to listen. I am pretty sure that as I visit the other Pause in Lent bloggers today and tomorrow, I will learn more!
Why not visit other bloggers who are on a spiritual journey via Spiritual Sundays?


Between Me and You said...

I`d be lying if I were to call myself a Christian, to be honest I`m more of a `Darwin-ite` really but I have to say I get so much from these posts of yours, Floss, spiritually and emotionally. You`re a truly honest soul and it shines out from your blog. You and the boys obviously had a great time in Edinburgh and I hope that your Dad continues to make a good recovery. Making great memories is what it`s all about. x

Marigold Jam said...

Lovely post Floss. It's true that we don't always appreciate the positive side of life and instead dwell on the negatives. I love the French word soucis for worries which also means marigolds and try to think of my soucis as marigolds instead! It doesn't always work but sometimes it does. I hope that when you return to France you will feel happier about your Dad and know that he has God and perhaps your Mum looking out for him.


Jane and Chris said...

Floss, I find it is all about perception. If we just shift our thinking a little, we are able to see more clearly;there really is some positive in the negative.Listening and seeing more clearly....a good message from this post.
Thank you.
Jane x
I love the spring photos;now I know for sure that our snow will melt and spring will soon be here!

Betty said...

Hi Floss, I hope your dad is able to read your blog as there is so much in this post for him and I am sure it would be like medicine for him! You have come to an excellent conclusion in finding the positives in your situation with your dad's health and the best thing you said was that your boys are making new memories with their grandad. It's so easy to pray for all the doom and gloom but its refreshing to read your thoughts and see that we can also be thankful for the positives that aren't always noticed when we have to get through a difficult time. Thanks for linking us all together again this year for Lent (could you add my name to the sidebar list please as I will be back foro more!). Looking forward to reading everyones contributions over the week ahead. Betty

Unknown said...

Hi Floss, Isn't it wonderful when God spotlights encouraging Bible verses in brand new ways for us! Or in this case, spotlights verses we had previously ignored or not noticed, and shines His light on their many-varied facets. Such a gift. And what lovely spring flowers! Ours are starting and yesterday was totally SPRING. But today may be cooler - especially with the time change - do you do time changes over there? :) Thank you for a lovely Pause in Lent and how fun to see you at Spiritual Sunday as well. Praying for you and your family and your father!!! :)

Pom Pom said...

Oh, that my eyes will see not the one or the other but the clean and clear TRUTH, be it happy and cheerful or soaked in grief. Last night we were at a dinner party. The hosts were gracious, the guests were nice enough, the table talk-okay, but I hated it and I came home and gratefully went to bed. I'm again reminded of my inability to love and HIS grace extended. Oh, how I need my Savior. His sheep, desperately, am I.

Lorrie said...

A beautiful, meaningful post, Floss. Even before finishing, I grabbed my journal and made two columns. I'm going to look up the section in the Bible where Moses tells the people to Choose life and read the context. A beautiful thought for Lent.

Unknown said...

Thank you for that Floss. I find the idea of seeing from another perspective one that resonates and I keep coming back to. Looking to see what adds to life and what detracts from or deadens it is another that has been useful to me. I think the context (from memory so may be wrong) for the Choose Life passage was when the Israelites were being given a choice of being fully committed to following God and walking His way or going their own. Sometimes ours seems much easier, but it isn't the way of Life. Thanks for the reminder.

I'd love to take part in a Pause for Lent, not on my craft blog which blogger links, but on my writing blog, Scribbles and Stories, which is here:

magsmcc said...

Floss, this is amazing: your listening post, this drumroll I'm only one third of the way down tongiht, this call from you to walk in the desert together as a band of folk who would never otherwise have had this opportunity to journey together at all. I'll steal Angela's term of Lenten blessings to be yours for being such a channel!

Ginger~~Enchanting Cottage said...

This was an wonderful post. I try so hard day to day to listen,listen to God.

Elizabethd said...

Thank you Floss, lovely to read your post.
Mine is finally up, the pre-posting thing not having worked!

Josie Crafter said...

Dear Floss
A really thought provoking post, thank you. I'm very conscious of how I'm busying myself during these days of preparing for the children and some of the things I'm focusing on are not essential, but I'm doing them because they're on my list! Then I read your comment over at mine and went to visit Carolyn... now I'm here ... and it seems to me that I really need to take a little time today to be still and quiet and listen to what God wants me to do ...
Thank you for your inspiring words, as ever ! :-)
D x

Anonymous said...

You make some very interesting points in this post. The pictures are so pretty. It isn't always easy to listen - really listen. Thank you for this encouragement.