This is the week when real joy and gratitude come together. Having experienced a depth of acceptance that can come only from the Lord, we now listen to the depth of the promise offered us.
When we experience the beginning of spiritual freedom, which comes with forgiveness, we are easily tempted to discouragement about how little we are able to change the deep seated patterns of our lives. Just as I realize that I am loved and that I have a deep desire to respond in love, I also realize that there are some bad habits I need to deal with, that there are some nearly automatic ways I am accustomed to responding to temptation and pressure.
As I listen to the Lord tell me not to be afraid, I begin to realize this is not about my own self-improvement program. As I hear the Lord promise “I will always be with you,” I can feel a calm come over me. The words “I will heal you” give me a hope to overcome any discouragement.
So, the first and most important practical help for this week is to keep listening to the good news that we are not alone with our need for growth and depth and spiritual freedom and maturity.
The second practical help is to take anything that is still persistently bothering me — a sin from my past, a recurring sin, a stubborn pattern of unloving, just a coolness in my heart regarding the needs of others — and ask for healing. Ask as truly as if I were driving to a doctor’s office to seek a treatment. Listen to the Doctor’s words, “I can heal that.” Be hopeful.
Finally, throughout this week, let the response come forth from our hearts. Practice the words “What return can I make to the Lord for all God’s goodness to me?”When the joy and the sense of freedom and gratitude all come together, just rest there. At this point, our prayer is as simple as lovers gazing at each other in love.