On the flight home from a Blessed is She retreat in Houston, TX, I was looking forward to some time to write and reflect on everything God has been showing me throughout the weekend. Not only did I get a row to myself and my favorite window seat, but I got to sit on the side of the plane where I could watch a storm! Yes, I watched a storm from above the clouds! This was a great gift that I never expected to experience.
On the retreat, Beth Davis spoke about expecting a present from God everyday this year. I have assumed that practice. Boy, does He deliver! The point of this practice is to have hope and expect good things from God. He's a good Father so why wouldn't He give us good things? He is a God who pursues us. He doesn't just deliver, He loves surprising us with a grace that overflows our cups so much that we can't help but share.
Since I prefer instrumental music when I write, I had just turned on my playlist when the lightning first came into view from my plane window. The first three songs included On Eagle's Wings, Ave Maria, and the Lord's Prayer. I have seen some fantastic light shows that people coordinate to music during the holiday season, but this was without a doubt the most astonishing to date as God orchestrated it with his creation and the "random" playlist of songs pointing to His glorious providence (that should not actually be able to be played offline and actually stopped playing after the storm was over)!
Often, we feel like we are in a storm and there is no way out. We cannot even imagine the parting of the clouds or the end of the rainfall that sometimes leaves damage on properties and homes. Through it all, God is there gazing at us with love knowing that "this too shall pass." We feel so small, defeated, and hopeless, but God knows who is in control. He holds the world in His hands and is not stuck in time like we are. He sees the whole picture of our lives and is eager to bring us peace and comfort.
"On Eagle's Wings" mentions how God will raise us up. Jesus says that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. He tells us to seek the higher gifts of faith, hope, and love. He helps us to see our lives through His lens whenever we allow Him to transform our understanding.
"Ave Maria" honors the mother of Jesus, who is now coronated as queen of heaven and earth. Ave means "hail" and is only used in front of royalty. In a recent study on Mary, I learned that the queenship historically went to mothers of the king because of the number of wives the king went through. The queen was the most stable and influential voice in the kingdom. I know I respect my mother's perspective on things, so why wouldn't Jesus who loves His mother with a perfect heart? He loved her so much He put her in our care so that she could be our mother, too.
The Lord's Prayer is commonly known by Christians as the prayer Jesus taught us. Praying it helps us to remember the power our loving Father has from His reign in Heaven and on Earth. His Name is Holy and above all other names. His will is to come before ours, because He ultimately knows what's best for the children He created. He gives us exactly what we need each and every day. In His abundant mercy, He forgives us and doesn't count our sins. He wants us to show that mercy to others so that we can all live peacefully in community.
These songs point to the AWEsome God we worship and adore. He wrote creation as a love song to all of us. Since we don't listen to that, He had to inspire the Word so we could read about the love story He tells us everyday. As I watched this storm from above, I prayed for those below who were scared and restless in the chaos around them. I also noticed that my plane wasn't experiencing any turbulence despite the storm that was clearly present not far away. I think this is what God means when He teaches us to be in the world, but not of the world. That when storms arise, we are not shaken. Rather, we can remain rooted in the Truth. Though times change, God remains the same Shepherd with His arms open wide sheltering His flock.
Like the God in the Old Testament parted the waters, provided food from the sky, and reconciled with the Israelites again and again, the same God has worked through Christ to calm the storms and bring the dead back to life. The Saints radiate the diverse parts of the Body of Christ and the martyrs even died because they believed this so strongly.
"Now, I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church, of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden fro ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints." Colossians 1: 24-26
One of the friends I reunited with this weekend shared with me that their house fire a few years ago was a blessing for their marriage. They rejoiced in the fact that they were able to refocus on what was important in their lives and restore the love and devotion they had in their marriage. Wow, sometimes we don't see our sufferings as a blessing. SAINT Oscar Romero, who was canonized yesterday, teaches us about the long view and how we may not know what the fruits our efforts or trials will bear in the future. He wrote, "We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord's grace to enter and do the rest...We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own."
Pope SAINT Paul VI was also canonized yesterday and said, "Peace is not the absence of war" and " Liturgy is like a strong tree whose beauty is derived from the continuous renewal of its leaves, but whose strength comes from the old trunk, with solid roots in the ground."
We are not master builders or messiahs, but we are loved. We are rooted in God who renews us each and everyday. The God of the future is with us here and now in the present. May you be encouraged today in whatever storm you're faring. God can bring beauty out of anything. I witnessed it last night from above.
Today on the feast of St. Teresa of Avila, let us pray,
"Let nothing disturb you, Let nothing frighten you, All things are passing away: God never changes. Patience obtains all things Whoever has God lacks nothing; God alone suffices."