1. Take Jazz to the vet this afternoon and have everyone come out unscathed. This is the first trip to a new vet, so hopefully we can begin with a clean slate and a better attitude (she has a record of violence at the old place).
2. Finish my application for a federal scholarship (SSHRC) which is a pretty intense process that includes writing a research proposal and bibliography. If I get it, it means I would be paid to go to school next year! I received the last important document in the mail today, so I will be handing the whole thing in to my department tomorrow.
3. Dust my house and clean the bathrooms.
4. Pay off all the visa bills.
5. Get together with friends on Thanksgiving and eat pumpkin pie.
6. Enjoy God's blessing in my life every day.
We talked about Matthew 5:1-12 a week ago at home group. It starts out with, "Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I have usually read these verses by concentrating on the bit immediately following the words, "Blessed are..." If I want to be blessed (and who doesn't want a full and happy life?), then I should see how I can position myself for this blessing, right? Wrong! Position has nothing to do with it, actually.
The focus of all these eight phrases is the latter part of the sentence, not the first. It is not a list of directives for us to get "under" the blessing of God. As such, it is rather a pitiful list if you look at it: poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness (which means you don't have a lot of righteousness in your current situation), merciful, pure in heart, peacemakers, and persecuted because of righteousness. I have usually seen this as Jesus asking us to become the dregs of society, the lowest and most unfortunate people, in order to get the nod of approval from him. But that is putting the emphasis on the exact wrong thing here. It is putting the onus on me and what I do instead of on God and what he wants to give. So backwards.
The point of this whole passage (at least in my opinion as of last week) is that no matter what situation you find yourself in, even the lowest and poorest of spiritual places, it is a place where God's blessing can be experienced in extravagant measure. In every station in our lives, we can have the kingdom of heaven right here (he said it twice, so it's extra important), we can find comfort, we can inherit the earth (God's original gift to humanity as a place of provision and beauty and responsibility), we can live with satisfaction, we can receive mercy, we can see God, and we can be called children of God (identified with him and receiving the benefits of his care).
How can I live a blessed life? By seeing that God has already blessed it. Life is a gift from him. The possibilities of what he can do with this life are amazing and wonderful. No matter what my present situation is, it is blessed because of the goodness and generosity of God. No matter how wretched things look at the moment, God is saying, "You want to know where this can end up, my friend? Let me tell you where it is going. We are not going to stay here. We are heading towards a time and place where everything lines up with my goodness and love. We are looking past the present discomfort and seeing the deep riches that come out of aligning yourself with me. Are you coming?"
You're blessed when you're at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. You're blessed when you're content with just who you are—no more, no less. That's the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can't be bought. You're blessed when you've worked up a good appetite for God. He's food and drink in the best meal you'll ever eat. You're blessed when you care. At the moment of being 'care-full,' you find yourselves cared for. You're blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world. You're blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That's when you discover who you really are, and your place in God's family. You're blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God's kingdom. Matthew 5, The Message
This photo was taken on a walk in the woods in the Laurentians.