Here’s one of my favorite parables by Hans Christian Andersen, as translated by Jean Hersholt:
Before having a shower (usually late at night), I always run a few inches of warm water in the tub, and for 15 minutes I lie there and soak. When I say soak, I don’t just mean my body but my spirit. Letting go of all worries and distracting thoughts, I sink into my heart and simply rest in the presence of God. To put it another way, I take this time for contemplative prayer.
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? … Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! … As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (Gal 3:1; 1:8; 5:12)
I became a Christian in September, 1981, while reading Paul’s letter to the Galatians. At the time I didn’t understand much of it, but somehow I grasped that it was about truth and freedom and how these were to be found only in Christ. Paul’s words seemed to leap from the page like flames of fire, and stricken with conviction I fell to my knees and gave my heart to Jesus.
Recently I was asked how I go about writing a devotional book. I answered that “going about” is a good way to put it, since I do not approach such a project directly or in any deliberate way.
“God has made me his target; his archers surround me.” (Job 16:12)
In Renaissance art one of the most commonly portrayed martyrdoms was that of St. Sebastian. The sight of this great lover of God with his body riddled with bloodied arrows is a shocking one, as the artists intended it to be. Yet how much more shocking it is to state, as Job does, that God Himself is the cruel archer who so tortures His own saints to death.
In 1998 Loretta Ross-Gotta began spending time alone in prayer at a hermitage. Before long she found herself immersed in a deep, extraordinary conversion of soul. I love the following passage from her wonderful book, Letters from the Holy Ground, which describes this early period of getting alone with God:
Last week I described the difference between logos and rhema: logos referring to the whole of scripture, and rhema to those verses which from time to time light up for us. The whole Bible is the word of God, but a particular verse may be His personal word to us at a certain time.