Some believe that Jesus told Judas Iscariot to betray him.
In the Gospel of Judas, Jesus said, “But you will exceed all of them. For you will sacrifice the man that clothes me.”
If this is the case, then Judas acted out of obedience and faith in Jesus and he was given the strength to follow through with Jesus’ request. Imagine for a moment being Judas once things had been set in motion and he was outside the loving gaze and light of Jesus. Imagine the torture and suffering he put himself through questioning his actions, wondering if he had acted within the will of God or made a mistake. Imagine the tortured thoughts he experienced as he second guessed his actions under the criticism and hatred of those who had once called him brother, his fellow disciples.
It is so hard to keep our hearts and our heads clear and open to God’s message, and then once we are bogged down with fear of a mistake or acting selfishly rather than within His will, we pull yet further away from Him and our faith is so quickly drained from us.
I think it is in these moments of fear that we have to breath deep, and know our faith is being tested. The moment our faith begins draining from us, is moment that we must hold tight to it and thank God for our current suffering, questioning and lack of confidence in our actions or words. We must continue to reflect even more on His perfect plan and remember that sometimes acting within His will might not be comfortable. If we have stepped off the path, there is a lesson within each step and we must remember that He loves us so much that He will not let us stray far before He begins nudging us back on track.
I said something a few days ago that I so deeply regret, that I can now actually appreciate why some people take a vow of silence. I am not sure if I was on track or off track with what I said, but even through my regret I am trying very hard to be thankful for experiencing these feelings of regret, for the increase in my desire to be pleasing to God (through silence if necessary) and for yet another opportunity to empathize with Judas.
Thank You, Thank You, Thank You for everything.
It was a dark and stormy evening. A young man who had recently received his license was on his way home from picking someone up. As he approached a red light, he pumped the brakes, they locked and the car continued right through the light.
There was a collision, people were hurt, a young child in another car was killed.
The young man driving was my grandfather.
I know he thought of this child often. I know he carried the pain of having caused the death of this child for the rest of his life. As I think back to discussions and time I spent with my grandfather, I can remember the painful expression I would see cross his face if we ever heard about or discussed any type of car accident. I remember seeing him wince as if he was physically in pain when we discussed a news article about all of the fatal car accidents caused by faulty tires back in 2000.
I think this moment drove him to spend the rest of his life seeking to empathize with those who had recently lost a loved one in death through his work as a funeral director. He sought to feel their pain, he hoped to feel what the family of that young child felt, and he searched for forgiveness by easing the pain of others as they faced the death of a loved one.
I now wonder if God graced my grandfather with an end to his search just before he died?
My young cousin, his granddaughter, was killed in a car accident on a dark and stormy evening about a year before my grandfather died. After his years of searching and empathizing with others, he finally felt what it was like for the family of that young child who had died so many years ago. He finally felt what it was like to look into the face of the mother of that child as he looked into the face of his own daughter as she wept for her child.
My sweet young cousin was the only one who was ready to go home. Maybe her death was a gift of grace to our grandfather?
God thank you for loving both of them so much!
Circles are everywhere. Our lives are filled with both figurative and physical circles. We see them in nature, we see them in actions and re-actions and we experience them physically around tables, in meetings, and during circle time as children.
We include people when we are willing to expand our circles, but we can just as easily exclude others by refusing to expand our circle for new arrivals.
My sister wrote a blog that I loved last year, Is it a pie or a triangle?. The conversation we had regarding this blog stands out clearly in my mind as a moment in my life when I finally started to scratch the surface in my personal understanding of Jesus and what He did for me.
Ever since this conversation, I have thought of God as a large circle that we are all held within. I then picture all of us as small circles within the God’s large circle. Some of our circles are bigger and some of our circles are smaller and some of them overlap. The bigger ones represent those who have accepted or included more people, and the smaller ones have accepted or included fewer people.
I don’t think heaven or paradise is possible without everyone and unfortunately we are the ones imposing limitations and building walls within God’s beautiful, all-inclusive circle by excluding others.
Pray for everyone, try to empathize with everyone…
Empathy will lead to forgiveness, and forgiveness will lead to love.
OUR best life doesn’t work unless everyone is included!
I pray and dream for OUR best life for everyone, everyday! I hope you do too… together we can expand our circles!