READINGOld Testament: Jeremiah 7:21-34
Psalms: Psalms 78:1-39
New Testament: Romans 4:13-25
Gospel: John 7:37-52
Evening Psalms: Psalms 78:40-72
Whoever believes in me…Rivers of living water will flow from within him.”
Throughout my journey in faith – or perhaps more aptly put – to faith – I have seen myself as an outsider looking in. Watching others I suspected had a stronger grasp of their faith, or a more religious or devout outlook on life, I wondered how I could get there – how do I get inside there with them. I have trouble seeing myself as someone who can have a conversation with God. Sure, I pray. I pray for friends and family, for those who are sick, hurting or in need. I pray for our leaders, our country, and our world. I know I can pray and that God will listen, but for me it always seemed to be a one-sided conversation -- me to God. What was I missing that I couldn’t hear or feel God talking back to me? What was preventing me from having a deeper relationship with God, a deeper faith? Today’s reading from Paul, when he writes about Abraham, helps me find the answer.
“But it was not for him alone that it was written that ‘it was credited to him,’ it was also for us. Us who also believe in the risen Lord.”(Romans 4:22-24)
The answer is: Me. I am preventing it – a deeper relationship with God. I have only to reach to the Lord to have that relationship. The impersonal distance I have felt in the past can be wiped away simply by my stepping forward and turning to God, sitting still, and being quiet.
It does take work. I am not very good at sitting still and being quiet. My mind races with so many distractions that often I find it hard to concentrate when shifting my focus to God. But when I’m able to sit quietly and actively search for the presence of God, I can more easily find that “inside” place, where I’m not outside looking in, but “inside there,” where I, too, can feel the presence of God.
In today’s verse from John, Jesus tells us that the living waters flow from within us. Within…not through. God is also telling me that to believe in Him is to make that connection to Him. I already know I believe. I also know that I have the capacity to make that personal, intimate connection with my Lord and Savior. I just have to get out of my own way.