This evening, I with many others will begin a weekend retreat. For those who cannot be there tonight, I want to share the opening discussion. Some of the words are my own, but much credit must go to the books I have read this year. The most influential books are cited below.
The theme of the weekend:
Wholehearted (whole·heart·ed) adjective–showing or characterized by complete sincerity and commitment. Synonyms: devoted, enthusiastic and unshakeable.
What are we devoted to? What is the condition of our heart?
The Dalai Lama says love, kindness, and affection are the source of joy.
Archbishop Desmund Tutu says we should have a generosity of spirit, be big-hearted, be broadminded, be forgiving, be kind, be magnanimous, be an oasis of peace.
There are difficulties in life that make wholehearted joy sometimes seem distant or unattainable. Saturday morning at the retreat we will explore some of the things that fill the spaces in our heart and prevent the fulness of love from entering in. We will release them as best we can over the weekend to allow more room in our hearts for love, kindness, affection, and joy!
Before we begin this process, we need a solid foundation. So, let’s start with the solid foundation of God’s love. We were created by love, in love, for love. God delights in us. God wants us to be happy and full of joy. Until we believe this with our whole hearts, we will keep working to be happy thinking that we must control our lives, thinking it is up to us to make things good.
In God’s story of creation, his love story of the beginning of the world, everything is good from the start. Take a moment here and read the story. I am sure you have already read it, but I encourage you to reread it. Read it as poetry and, listen for the love the excitement and the joy as our creator forms the world and us.
Genesis 1 (NRSV)
What do you imagine God was feeling? Can you see the care he was taking? And every day he declared His creation good! On the seventh day, God rested. God must have thought his work was complete or he would have continued. But, God had thought of everything, made provisions for it, and so he rested.
Proverbs 8:22-31 Wisdom in creation joins with God in delight!
The Lord created me at the beginning of his work,
the first of his acts of long ago.
Ages ago I was set up,
at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
When there were no depths I was brought forth,
when there were no springs abounding with water.
Before the mountains had been shaped,
before the hills, I was brought forth—
when he had not yet made earth and fields,
or the world’s first bits of soil.
When he established the heavens, I was there,
when he drew a circle on the face of the deep,
when he made firm the skies above,
when he established the fountains of the deep,
when he assigned to the sea its limit,
so that the waters might not transgress his command,
when he marked out the foundations of the earth,
then I was beside him, like a master worker;
and I was daily his delight,
rejoicing before him always,
rejoicing in his inhabited world
and delighting in the human race.
Psalm 104 is a song of praise for God’s creation, and it is full of joy! Can you hear the joy?
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honor and majesty,
wrapped in light as with a garment.
You stretch out the heavens like a tent,
you set the beams of your chambers on the waters,
you make the clouds your chariot,
you ride on the wings of the wind,
you make the winds your messengers,
fire and flame your ministers.
You set the earth on its foundations,
so that it shall never be shaken…
In wisdom you have made them all;
The earth is full of your creatures…
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
Praise the Lord!
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, provided it is received with thanksgiving; for it is sanctified by God’s word and by prayer. 1 Timothy 4:4-5
In his wisdom, God created us in His image, and he delights in us. All that we are and all that we are becoming. He is pleased with the process of mankind being and becoming like him, and he has provided everything for it. He blesses us from the beginning and eagerly waits for us to rest with him in love.
Take a moment this evening to make a list of all the good things that God has blessed you with, in your life. Include the good attributes he has given you to share with his creation. Use this list and write your own Psalm of praise to your Creator who created you; by love, in love, and for love.
LAMA, DALAI TUTU ARCHBISHOP DESMOND. BOOK OF JOY. ARROW BOOKS LTD, 2018.
Benner, David G. Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality. IVP Books, 2015.
“BibleGateway.” BibleGateway.com: A Searchable Online Bible in over 150 Versions and 50 Languages., http://www.biblegateway.com/.