Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p. 973)
Psalms 119:145-176 (morning) 128, 129, 130 (evening)
Numbers 22:41 - 23:12
(I was gone for a meeting Monday & Tuesday and didn't have time to set up sending the readings for those days before I left. Sorry.)
"I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate... I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do... Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Paul describes the awful prison of conscience that has trapped him all of his life. He's a good man. He wants to do right. He intends to do right. But he fails. He keeps messing up.
There are two options. (1) Try harder. (2) Quit.
Paul chose (2) Quit.
Paul didn't quit being a good person and trying to do good. He quit judging and condemning himself. He quit trying harder. Instead, he surrendered to the love of God as poured out in Christ Jesus.
Paul surrendered to the love and forgiveness that he discovered was his gift all along. He relaxed. He didn't try so hard to be good. He quit worrying about himself.
When he did all of that quitting and surrendering, he found that something lifted. He was no longer anxious and self-absorbed. There was more of himself left to simply be. Free from all of that worry, he found himself more able to be conscious and aware in the present. Knowing himself to be safe and beloved of God, he was liberated to let go and let God. He found he was not afraid.
Paul began to see himself more as a happy, willing slave, giving his life away for others for the sake of Christ who had freed him and given him everything. With nothing to lose, no chance of failure, he was happy to risk anything for good.
In some way there was nothing there to risk. Paul had quit himself too. The old Paul -- the one that was trying to measure up, be somebody, gain respect, earn his way -- was dead.
Everything he needed had already been given. A gift from God through Christ. Acceptance, forgiveness, love, belonging, life, freedom. All given. There was nothing else he needed to earn. So he quit trying and started living.
Sure he messed up. But it didn't frighten or enslave him any more. He was God's beloved. Forgiven, loved and free. He just said, "Ooops. Sorry," and dropped it. He quit again. The he went forward as God's beloved to be free again. "With such vast, expansive freedom, what shall I do?" Whatever. God will present the opportunity. No big deal. Just do whatever you can. That's enough. Relax. Breathe. Enjoy. "Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!"
Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts
About Morning Reflections
Morning Reflections is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.
Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html
The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.
Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org
Our Rule of Life
Lowell Grisham, Rector