Thursday, May 24, 2012

Layers

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Here in the Pacific North West, spring comes slowly and as a result you will see people wearing sandals with socks, shorts on the bottom and a sweatshirt or jacket on the top. It always stikes me as kind of funny. People here dress in layers. I often will have on three shirts and as the day warms up I lose my layers and as it cools down again in the evening I put them back on.

I was thinking that those protective layers of clothing insulate us from the weather and allow us to be out and functioning in it. Layers are not necessarily a bad thing.

One must peal back the paper like layers on an onion to get to the part that is used for cooking. The layers protect the onion and keep the center fresh until it is time to be used.

To try and reel in this idea or thought trail. I was thinking about how many of us because the climate of our world has been at times harsh and bitter we have learned to put on layers to protect ourselves from the criticism, failures, disappointments, pain. Putting on a coat allows us to be out in the cold weather, so we often put on a protective layer or two when we go through difficulties. Those layers may make sense in that context. They become a problem when the world around us becomes safer, warmer, beautiful and spring like. When we are still wearing our coat in the heat of the summer - something is wrong. Some of you who are reading are wearing a spiritual coat and the real you is safely packed away under many layers of protection. Ask the Lord to help you take a look around - perhaps the reasons you retreated into your layers is long in the past and you are now hindered by them. Those layers stand in the way of positive relationships that are now possible. They stand in the way of you being able to do and be what God has called and created you to become.

Lamentations 3 19 - 24
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
    the bitterness and the gall. 20 I well remember them,
    and my soul is downcast within me.21 Yet this I call to mind
    and therefore I have hope: 22 Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
    for his compassions never fail.23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;  therefore I will wait for him.”

You might not be ready to shed all your layers today but perhaps you could begin the journey and maybe take of one. Look around you even in the darkest of times you have Jesus and he will help you if you ask him to help. His help is not always in the same form as our expectations. His ways are higher than ours. I have found that it is most often as a result of the difficult things that I have had to pass through that I have developed and grown.  It is easy to throw up old defenses in a new situation because something triggers those old hurts. I often have to remind myself to leave the past behind me and to embrace today with courage. Courage does not mean that I don't at times feel afraid and overwhelmed. Courage is when I push past that fear to do the right thing, because I recognize that Jesus will be with me. He says to me and to you "Fear Not - I Am with you"

Isaiah 64: All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us and made us waste away because of our sins.
Yet, O Lord, you are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.Do not be angry beyond measure, O Lord;
    do not remember our sins forever. Oh, look upon us, we pray,

I believe he does look upon us and I see him in my mind reaching out a hand to take the layer from you - its a ratty old rag and yet you struggle to release it and to accept his forgiveness. 
Psalm 103:12 
 As far as the east is from the west,  
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Prayer
Dear Lord, Help us recognize and release that layer that you have brought to our mind as a result of reading this post. Help us to repent and forgive to take that memory and put it away this time, clean, free from the weight and anguish of guilt and shame. 
Let us take that layer off, in this moment like a ratty old coat that we will no longer need. You Lord, give us hope and peace. Fill us with your joy and be our strength. Lord let us get to the place where the only protection that we need is you.





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