I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.
So Judas came straight to Jesus. “Greetings, Rabbi!” he exclaimed and gave him the kiss. Jesus said, “My friend, go ahead and do what you have come for.” Matthew 26:49-50 NLT
Jesus did not call Judas a traitor or back stabber. He was not fighting against people but against,
…evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NLT
Jesus looked beyond Judas and identified the real enemy as Satan, and identified Judas as friend. Now whether or nor Judas was a good friend or not is one thing, but Jesus had to focus on His higher mission and not worry about lesser things, like who His real friends were. His faith was not in His friends. His faith was in His Father. He knew His Father had His back regardless if His friends did or not. Likewise we can be sure God has our back, and focus on our higher mission, without being distracted by petty and even not so petty grudges.
Okay I want to share something personal on my blog tonight. I mean what’s the point of having a personal blog if you don’t write personal things. It’s not a big deal, but I want to share with you a personal ritual that I have. I share this because I wonder if anyone else does this or if they themselves have any personal rituals that no one else knows about or may be unique.
Here is what I have been doing for a long time now. My ritual is the way I wind down on Saturday nights, not just from the day but kind of from the whole week. I love it when my Sabbaths are full and busy. Often at the end of a very full and busy Sabbath Saturday night will find me with a group somewhere or maybe two or three friends having a quiet dinner at a restaurant. To me that is a very relaxing way to end the day. But then I do something else that I am not sure if anyone else ever does or not. Here goes:
After I leave my friends at the end of the night and everyone else goes home to bed I go to a convenience store and buy my favorite cherry Soda. I then get in my car, put in my favorite CDs and cruise Tampa Bay, especially Bayshore as I just relax, cruise and think about what a wonderful life I have and what a wonderful week it has been. I relive in my mind the highlights of the week. I think about my friends and the nice things they said and did that week. I think about the answers to prayers and little miracles I saw that week. It could be anything from someone we anointed at church surviving a risky surgery or it could be something simple but just as inspiring, like someone showing up at church after getting upset and saying they would never come back. I may contemplate something I said or did that was rude and then contemplate how forgiving the person was who I said that to, and how quickly they forgot what I did. I will then ask myself to be just as loving and forgiving, and ask God to help me be nicer.
Any way I just drive around for a few minutes all by myself contemplating what a beautiful place I live in, what good friends I have, and how lucky I am. I love being with friends, but I also really love my time alone with just God and my thoughts. I love reflecting on life and even analyzing it a little bit. Sometimes when I think of getting married I fear that I will not have any time to myself anymore. I think I may be different in the fact that I love both being with friends and being all alone. As a single person I get to be in control of when I am with people and when I am alone.
I love my Sabbaths. I love them full and busy and with friends. Then at the end of the night I love ending it with just God and me and a nice cruise, relaxing to my favorite drink and CDs as I reflect on the day and previous week. I love driving along the shore. I love driving through the old neighborhoods on Davis Island. I love driving by the old churches we used to meet in over on Nebraska Avenue and Florida Avenue and just wondering what a Sabbath looked like there 50 or so years ago. Wierd I know. I reflect on all my blessings and thank God for my life and for everyone and everything He has brought into it. Then I go home to bed with warm fuzzies in my heart. Sound like a strange ritual? I have never shared this with anyone before. If you have any personal rituals please share them with me. Sharing is fun.
A man that hath friends must show himself friendly: and there is a friend [that] sticketh closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24
Today is Valentines Day. (Dude! I so hope I am not the first one to tell you this just now.) This is the day that husbands and wives, boyfriends and girlfriends all get gifts and flowers for each other and go out and spend quiet romantic evenings together while the rest of us are just glad we are not “in a relationship” so we can save all that flower and romantic evening money and spend it on golf or whatever we want.
However this Valentines Day I too am in a relationship. Um, several actually. Let me share with you.
First I am in a relationship with Jesus. It has been going great for me but not too sure about Him. I mean He has done so much for me and I have done so little for Him. Our relationship has survived decades now simply because He is so accepting and forgiving. While I often make mistakes, He will do something wonderful in my life and make it look like it was me doing it but actually it was Him. Actually He is the only good thing going on in my life. Because of Him there has never been a day of my life that I have not been loved. He actually loves me to death-literally! I love Him more each and every day as I read His letters and see His love in nature.
I am also in a relationship with my family. We stay so close it is hard to believe how far apart we all live. We are always there for each other. I am proud of my parents. They are known for their integrity and willingness to help others. They know what it means to sacrifice for others and for me. My sister and her family have sacrificed for me too. I am very proud of them too. They all love me and just like Jesus my relationship with my family has endured decades just because they are so accepting and forgiving.
I have been in a relationship for sometime with all friends. I would like to mention names but don’t want to hurt anyone by leaving them out. So let me put it this way. Thanks to the friends who believed in me even when I did not believe in myself. Thanks to the friends who listen to me talk about myself all evening before it finally dawns on me that I made the evening all about me. Thanks to the friends who sent me money from Texas to fix my car even though I told them I had no clue when and if I could every pay them back. Thanks for meeting me on the side of the highway in the middle of the night when my car broke down. Thanks for never reminding me that you had to get up early the next morning to go to work. Thanks to my friends who spent their whole vacation helping me move from Texas to Florida. Thanks to my friends who tell me what I need to hear and not just what I want to hear. Thanks for inviting me to your homes for holidays and making me feel like family. Thanks for telling me to visit anytime and I don’t need to call. Thanks for forgetting all the stupid things I have done and said treating me like a king. My friendships have endured because my friends are so accepting and forgiving.
This Valentine’s Day I want to celebrate all the relationships I am in. I am thankful for each and every one. There are many important things to any kind of a relationship, but what I see in all my relationships from Jesus to my friends is their acceptance and forgiveness.
So this Valentine’s Day if anyone asks, yes! I am in a relationship-many!