Tag Archives: Abandonment

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good father

Good Father

By Cindy Del Hierro

Chris Tomlin’s song, ‘Good Good Father’, swept through many of our churches this past year. The melody and lyrics ring true to our hearts: “You’re a good good Father, it’s who you are, and I am loved by you, it’s who I am…” Like a heavenly lullaby, it soothes the wounded soul by affirming our sense of belonging and identity. Unintentionally it became a theme song for our Living Waters group in Denver. Lyrical phrases from Tomlin’s song lingered over us as we pressed into what can be a painful redemptive process: “You call me deeper still, into love…”

“You are perfect in all Your ways”…Two women experienced His perfect way in my small group. Each one came to the group with an aching wound from the lack of an earthly father in their early lives. Still longing for his confirmation, they were stuck in their healing process and unable to comprehend a way forward. For Joey, the loss of father had occurred while she was still in the womb; her father had taken his own life before she was born so she never truly knew him. For Jamie, the loss occurred when she was 8-years-old after her father was murdered in prison.

Both of them expressed similar feelings of disconnection, confusion and lack of self-confidence. Week after week, the pain of abandonment and grief surfaced. Hearing about the significant role God intends father to play in our lives exposed the depth of their ‘father-wounds.’

While taking time to pray through family history and generational sins, a surprising connection unearthed between them. Neither woman knew each other before Living Waters nor did they live in the same part of the city or go to the same church. But while storyboarding the generations, a revelation came that shocked us all. Jamie’s father had once been married to Joey’s mother! In fact, Jamie’s father raised Joey’s older siblings from whom she had heard many stories about him. He is actually buried next to Joey’s own father and she visits the graves often!

This revelation provoked deep pain for both women. Jamie expressed the unforgiveness she held her entire life toward the woman (Joey’s mom) who “stole” her only dad. The pain of knowing he left her for another family had never been released, until that day. Bewildered, Joey became self-conscious and speechless then yielded to God’s grace in a holy moment. A flood of memories and meaning came to both of them. Together they permitted the heavenly Father to love them in the midst of stinging pain and sins committed by their fathers.

A resounding melody came bursting in: “Many searching for answers far and wide, all searching for answers only you provide, ‘cause you know just what we need before we say a word …it’s love so undeniable, peace so unexplainable! You’re a good good Father, it’s who you are, and I am loved by you, it’s who I am!”

Cindy leads Living Waters in Denver CO and is our Rocky Mtn Regional Leader

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Ascending Fear: Jesus’ Absence and Our Authority

Ascension of Christ. Woodcut after a drawing by Julius Schnorr von Carolsfeld (German painter, 1794 - 1872), published in 1877.

‘Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you. But if I go, I will send Him to you.’ (Jn 16:6)

Jesus had to leave us in order to liberate us. He had to depart in order to give us power. But for the disciples, Jesus’ ascension back to the Father may have felt more like abandonment than the assurance of authority.

Think about it. Jesus’ followers just got in the groove with the Resurrected Christ. (It took a while–remember? They failed to recognize him for days!) Just when they were in step with Him, the Lamb is swallowed up by a cloud. (Acts 1:9)

Jesus, now absent, gives disciples like us His Spirit—powerful and pervasive, but unseen. The Spirit demands our faith and action based on His leading. Yet His instructions are more whispers than proclamations. And we are imperfect ‘receptors’ at best, as inclined to our own darkness as we are to the light. How we long for Jesus-in-the-flesh declaring: ‘This is the way; walk in it!’

That means that we His disciples have to face our fears of ourselves: Can we do this? Was that a prophetic dream or a delusion? What if we obey that still small voice and turn out to be wrong?

What a risky God—entrusting us with continuing His reign of heaven on earth.

Scary stuff! I remember what I felt to be the Spirit’s leading to attend a university discussion on ‘Homosexuality, the Bible and Faith.’ In spite of all the major denominations represented, the course had little to do with any genuine respect for the Bible or faith; it was intent only on asserting ‘gay rights.’

I had only been a Christian for 6 months but I already knew that no-one there knew anything about genuine conversion. So I said so: ‘If Jesus really died for us, then we must die to our right to assert anything other than His rule and reign in our lives.’ I wasn’t voted most popular student that year.

But I did grow in faith because I learned to follow His lead. And He trusted me to step out, however awkwardly, and proclaim His rule and reign. He does so with any willing vessel.

This is the principle of Ascension: He must depart in order for His Spirit to empower us to extend His Kingdom on earth.

That principle applies to our letting people go in order to help them grow. Our releasing them releases the Spirit who will lead them beyond where we can take them.

I see this all the time in ministry. In order for men and women to become leaders, I must release them to step out and take risks. They won’t rely upon the Spirit as much if I am around. My presence may well be quenching the very Spirit that is straining to do great things through them.

‘Anyone who has faith in Me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these because I am going to the Father.’ (Jn 14:12)

I also see this in parenting. Annette and I and most of our friends worked hard to be the best parents possible. And then, guess what? It isn’t enough! Our kids may still make bad, Spirit-free choices that grieve us terribly. That’s where Ascension comes in. Our kids’ departure from the Light doesn’t stop the Spirit from brooding, imploring, and ordering all things for the good in their lives.

But parents get in the way of Holy Spirit when we try to be that Spirit. Like Jesus Himself, we must entrust our kids to the One who knows and loves best. We do our part yes—but it is the wise parent who knows when (s)he can do no more but pray. Confessing our fears and controlling schemes only to God, we entrust the son or daughter to the Ultimate Parent. His Spirit will have His Way.

Ascension reduces us to prayer. We grieve and let go and make room for God. Jesus left in order to free us to become people of the Spirit. Might we do the same for those we love most?

‘You may ask for anything in My Name, and I will do it.’ (Jn 14:14)

‘When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you [and your loved ones!] into all truth.’ (Jn 16:13)

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Boldness and Mercy

Day 30 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Boldness and Mercy

‘If the Lord demands something of a soul, He gives it the means to carry it out; through grace, He makes it capable. At the Lord’s command, the soul can undertake things beyond its expectation if God’s power and strength, which makes the soul courageous and valiant, are manifest within it.’ (1090)

‘Your assignment on earth is to beg Mercy for the whole world.’ (570)

Jesus gave St. Faustina a bold calling: to immerse souls in the flood of God’s Mercy at Calvary. Prayerfully, she brought the miserable, the deserted, those deadened by sin and suffering into the Wound that heals—Jesus abandonment on the Cross, His Mercy pool of Blood and Water.

Jesus implored her to share His yearning for the lost. He thirsted for souls to partake of the fruit of His suffering. He wanted none to perish, for all to be saved. He gave her a share in that thirst and in that suffering. She boldly cried out for souls to turn to that Mercy. She persisted day and night in her intercession for souls. He goaded her:

‘Urge all souls to trust in the unfathomable abyss of My Mercy, because I want to save them all.’ (1182)

A bold call, and a bold claim on St. Faustina’s part: Jesus Himself chose her (among others) as His merciful ‘life-line’ for the lost. She believed Him resolutely and proceeded to pray boldly.

For her obedience, she endured constant attacks from ‘holy’ colleagues, which she quietly understood as nothing short of demonic resistance. She knew that the devil hated prayerful confidence in the God of Mercy; if he could discourage or distract the prayerful, souls would be lost to Mercy. So she fell to her knees and cried out for Mercy, enduring the scorn for the joy set before her–Mercy being released to the miserable, hers, mine, ours.

Consider the joy of her child-like warrior heart: she knew that the Father honors bold faith and answers those who persist in agreement with His heart. And what could be more in accord with that Heart than for souls to be liberated by the Mercy that cost Him everything?

Jesus asks for our bold prayers too. And like St. Faustina, we will be subject to terrific warfare. We are rescuing lives from the clutches of evil! We do well as prayer warriors to follow Jesus’ command ‘to go boldly to the throne of grace to receive Mercy, and grace to help us in our time of need.’ (Heb. 4: 16)

Embattled prayer warriors need Mercy! Tending toward the mystical, we vertical ones can lose sight of our own humanity and the impact of the battle upon us. We need normalizing relationships that are arms of this Mercy. These truth-tellers help us acknowledge our humanity and keep us grounded in our need for love.

God takes no delight in mystics who ‘spiritualize’ human need, those yearnings of the heart and body which must be worked out on earth. We do well to seek merciful others for our wounded humanity. They free us to stay pure and true to our bold call to implore sinners to discover Mercy themselves.

Such ‘grounding’ takes a shrill, otherworldly edge off our prayers. They begin to resonate with merciful tones for the suffering of others, imploring Jesus to prepare us His bride to become rich and practical in Mercy. How else will the sin-sick find a place in the Mercy pool if the Church doesn’t exhibit such Mercy?

‘O Father, make Your Church glorious, rich in Mercy and purity, winsome to all who seek an answer to our hope. Show them the Mercy You have shown us; make us evident, shining bearers of Mercy. Enfold the lost through us, O God. In agreement with You, we want none to perish. You delight in the death of no-one. (Ez. 18:32) Through merciful repentance, may many find life in Your house.’

‘For Zion’s sake, I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake, I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch…

I have posted watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lord, give yourselves no rest, and give Him no rest till He establishes Jerusalem, and makes her the praise of all the earth.’ (Is 62:1,6,7)

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

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Mercy’s Sacrifice

Day 21 of our 40 Days of Mercy Fast

Mercy’s Sacrifice

‘How sad I am that souls do not recognize Love. They treat Me as a dead object.’ (1385)

St. Paul implores us to not take Communion unworthily (1Cor. 11:27), and Church fathers echo him. Those who persist in serious sin should think twice…

How do we square this with the God of sinners, He who desires Mercy and not legalistic sacrifice? It all depends on the attitude toward our sin, and towards His Sacrifice. The main document on Holy Communion from Vatican ll urges us to foster a spirit toward the Meal which is intent on ‘cooperating with grace’.

In other words, approach the Lord’s table with a heart hungry for all the grace you need to overcome sin.

One of my most shameful and glorious memories of communion occurred early in my walk with Jesus. Simply put, I had many ‘bad’ weekends. After a regrettable night of porn and guilt, I visited my mother’s Episcopal Church. Because of fire in my heart for Jesus, the false passions were evident and ugly. The only cure was confession, so I confessed my sin. Then I realized how hungry I was for Him. I wanted Jesus, not the false gods and goddesses of this world!

Perhaps for the first time, God graced me with the miraculous awareness of Jesus in the Meal—alive, Mighty in Mercy, and yet tender, utterly tailored to my deep need for Him. Honestly, I don’t think Jesus ever seemed so near and so substantial as He did that morning in an unassuming church which spread a Table for me.

In my battle against sin, I needed the Life of Jesus in the Holy Meal. St. Faustina says it best: ‘I find myself so weak that were it not for Holy Communion, I would fall continuously.’ (1037)

Communion grants us substantial Mercy in our struggles, and thus helps make us worthy. Yet we must honor the Meal with a heart intent on becoming honorable.

St. Paul directs us to both a vertical and a horizontal uprightness in approaching Communion. He implores us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s Sacrifice.

Aware of the idolatry at Corinth—false gods worshipped through food offerings and sexual orgies—St. Paul reminds them of their vertical call to worship only One God through the Holy Meal. ‘The sacrifices of pagans are offered to demons, not God, and I do not want you to participate with demons…you cannot have a part in both the Lord’s Table and the table of demons.’ (1 Cor. 10: 20, 21)

Make a decision, the Apostle says: those who sacrifice to other gods are not worthy of the Eucharistic Sacrifice.

Paul also exhorts the proud Corinthians who violated horizontal boundaries at Table. When they came together for Communion, the wealthy and powerful would shove aside the poor. To Paul, Love had to accompany the Meal or its Mercy had no evident meaning. He implored the good Corinthians to act justly toward those who had less, or refuse the Holy Meal altogether. (1Cor. 11: 20-22)

Mercy ingested needs to result in Mercy manifested. We may come derided by false gods, tempted to push our way through Communion and out the exit. Yet Almighty Mercy stops us in our tracks and urges us to consider His Sacrifice. He gave all to grant us Mercy. Should we not then welcome Mercy entirely, and extend it generously?

‘Do you despise the Church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? …  A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread or drinks of the cup.’ (1Cor. 11:22, 28)

‘Jesus, thank You for Your Sacrifice of Mercy. We need it now more than ever! In Your Mercy, unite our divided hearts and make us whole in one-Spirit communion with You. Free us also for merciful communion with one another. Free us to love as You have loved us. We pray also for those persisting in sin, without repentance. Open hearts to their true hunger and true home at Table with You.’

Author’s note – Each day’s entry is based a passage from St Faustina’s diary. The passage entry is the number in parentheses at the end of each opening quote or simply a page number in parenthesis. Diary of St Maria Faustina Kowalska – Divine Mercy in My Soul (Association of Marion Helpers, Stockbridge, MA 01263) is available through the publisher or Amazon.com.

 

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Abandonment

‘But I cry to you for help, O Lord; in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Why, O Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?
I have suffered your terrors and am in despair. Your wrath has swept over me;
Your terrors have destroyed me. All day long they surround me like a flood;
They have completely engulfed me.
You have taken my companions from me; the darkness is my closest friend.’
PS 88:13-18

Jesus’ rejection, abuse, and murder at the hands of men were not His greatest sorrow. It was His Father’s abandonment of Him on the cross.

Jesus expected the scourge of political and religious foes. The desertion of His disciples, however painful, was bearable.

Through it all, He held fast to His steadfast consolation–the Father who promised to never forsake Him. One cannot imagine His dismay when the Father abandoned Him to the darkness of sin.

He was willing, yet not prepared for the scourge and judgment of sin to fall upon Him. He knew the truth: what is holy cannot commune with what is foul. Jesus realized that the evil in humanity demanded a sacrifice. The price had to be paid. And He knew that whatever bears that sin becomes a horrible, stinking cancer that the Father cannot look upon.

Nothing can be further from the Father than that which is accursed!

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