The Choice Is Ours!

“God looked down from the holy height…
to soothe the groaning of prisoners and
to release those doomed to die.”

From Psalm 102:20-21

While organizing my desk -Again!- I found an email I’d sent to a friend some time ago. I’d printed a copy of our exchange because I’d offered him encouragement which I needed to heed myself…

My friend had retired and hoped to move on to something which would bring him joy. Though he felt he had worked hard to arrive a this place, he wrestled with the notion. It seemed selfish to him to want to do something which made him happy. Though the new direction he sought would actually allow him to serve others in a truly significant way, he struggled.

I felt a little uneasy offering advice because I understood my friend’s dilemma a little too well. I shared the notion that what we do in this life is meant to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I’d lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will, God’s desire for our happiness and God’s absolute faith in our choices. It’s because of these things that God sent us out on our own in the first place.

According to that email, I did encourage my friend to heed his heart’s longing. The happiest people I knew and know do the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to others. As I reread that email exchange, I realized that I need to abide the advice I offered my friend. Apparently, it’s time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.

Loving God, you listen to the longings of our hearts and you know our needs before we voice them. Give us the courage to seek joy for others and for ourselves.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Always In Good Company

“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.”
John 13:33

While in Israel, I overheard two travelers from another group consoling one another over a friend who was unable to join them for their trip. The person who couldn’t travel with them had been ill and didn’t recover as quickly as they’d hoped. Because these three considered this trip to Israel to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, this turn of events anguished them all. The two who had made it consoled one another with their promise to pray at every holy place they visited for the person they’d unwillingly left behind. Their tone indicated that this illness might be their friend’s last.

As Holy Week approaches, I imagine conversations regarding Jesus’ situation among his friends. I suppose none of them were anxious to return to Jerusalem with so much uncertainty regarding Jesus’ work. Where would Jesus’ teaching take him? Where would it take them? Was Judas already expressing concern regarding all of this? Were the others happy to follow their teacher or were they struggling with worry as well?

Those fellow travelers found consolation in praying for their sick friend. She would be with them in spirit as they expressed their concern for her to God. The poor disciples weren’t as adept at prayer as those travelers who had to leave their friend behind. Though they had Jesus in their midst, they weren’t certain of what to make of his presence in their lives. Though they’d witnessed so much, they’re weren’t privy to The Big Picture.

These days, I find myself in the shoes of the uncertain disciples. Like them, I sometimes wonder what will come next. It is then that I focus on The Big Picture. It is then that I remind myself that God is with us all regardless of where this journey with COVID-19 takes us next.

Loving God, help me to be patient with others and with myself as we puzzle over all of this. Help us to remember that you are with us though it all.

©2020 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Free To Choose Joy

How shall I make a return to God
for all God has given me?

Psalm 116:12

A retired friend recently shared that he’s thrilled to have to moved on to something which brings him joy. Though he’d worked hard to arrive at this place, he wrestled with this notion. It seemed selfish to him to want to do something which makes him happy. A few years ago when he struggled with this dilemma, I reminded him that his new endeavor would not only make him happy, but it would also being joy to those he’d encounter along the way.

The truth is that I understood my friend’s feelings too well. I shared the notion that what we do in this life is meant to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I sometimes lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Isn’t this the reason that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place?

So it was that after I encouraged my friend to heed his heart’s desire, I took stock of my own longing. The happiest people I know are busy doing the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also make a truly positive impact on those around them. My retired friend has done quite well in this regard. It’s time for me to be certain that I do too!

Loving God, give us the courage to seek joy in our lives and to share that joy with those we meet along the way.

©2019 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Only A While Longer?

“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.”
John 13:33

While we were in Israel, I overheard two travelers from another group consoling one another over a friend who was unable to join them for their trip. The person who couldn’t travel with them had been ill and didn’t recover as quickly as they’d hoped. Because these three considered this trip to Israel to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, this turn of events anguished them all. The two who had made it consoled own another with their promise to pray at every holy place they visited for the person they’d unwillingly left behind. Their tone indicated that this illness might be their fellow traveler’s last.

As Holy Week approaches, I imagine conversations regarding Jesus’ situation among his friends. I suppose none of them were anxious to return to Jerusalem with so much uncertainty regarding Jesus’ work. Where would Jesus’ teaching take him? Where would it take them? Was Judas already expressing concern regarding all of this? Were the others happy to follow their teacher or were they struggling with worry as well?

Those fellow travelers found consolation in praying for their sick friend. She would be with them in spirit as they expressed their concern for her to God. The poor disciples weren’t as adept as we are at prayer. Though they had Jesus in their midst, they weren’t certain of what to make of his presence in their lives. Though they’d witnessed so much, they’re weren’t privy to The Big Picture which inspires us along the way.

Loving God, help me to be patient with others and with myself when we puzzle over this life. Help us to remember that you are with us though it all.

©2018 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Opt For Joy

“The Lord looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

Psalm 102:20-21

A friend who recently retired shared that he hopes to move on to something which will bring him joy. Though he feels he has worked heard to arrive a this place, he wrestles with this notion. It seems selfish to him to want to do something which makes him happy. Though the new direction he seeks will actually allow him to serve others in a truly significant way, my friend struggles.

I find that I relate too well to my friend’s dilemma. I share the notion that what we do in this life is meant to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I’ve lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in our choices. Indeed, it is because of these things that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place.

I’m going to encourage my friend to heed his heart’s longing. The happiest people I know do the things which bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to those around them. As I speak to my friend, I’m going to listen carefully to what I say. You see, it’s time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.

Loving God, you listen to the longings of our hearts and you know our needs before we speak them for ourselves. Give us the courage to hear our cries for joy and to follow them as only we can.

©2016 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved

Seek Joy

“The Lord looked down from his holy height,
from heaven he beheld the earth,
To hear the groaning of the prisoners,
to release those doomed to die.”

From Psalm 102

A friend who has invested many years into his career recently shared that he hopes to move on to something which will bring him joy. He wrestles with this notion because it seems selfish to him to want to do something that makes him happy. The new direction he seeks will actually allow him to serve others in a truly significant way. Still, my friend struggles.

I find that I relate far too well to my friend’s dilemma. I share the notion that what we do in this life is meant only to serve others regardless of how happy or unhappy it makes us. Like my friend, I’ve lost sight of God’s generous gift of free will and God’s absolute faith in my choices. Indeed, it is because of these things that God sent each of us out on our own in the first place.

I am going to encourage my friend to heed his heart’s longing. The happiest people I know do the things that bring them joy. In the process, they also bring joy to those around them. As I speak to my friend, I am going to listen carefully to what I say. You see, it is time for me to heed my heart’s longing as well.

Loving God, you listen to the longings of our hearts and you know our needs before we can speak them for ourselves. Help us to love ourselves as you love us. Give us the courage to hear our deepest cries for joy and to follow them as only we can.

©2014 Mary Penich – All Rights Reserved