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Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
by Mary Alice McGinnis
When I was a little girl, I had a strange fear. If anyone knows the children's’ prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” there was one phrase that terrified me as a child . . .
“If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take . . .”
I can remember lying in my bed after praying this prayer with my mother. The room was dark and quiet. All I could hear was the sound of my 4-year-old heart beating, and it frightened me!!
I kept thinking, “Is my heart going to keep beating? What if it doesn’t? I need to keep listening to make sure my heart does not stop beating.”
In today’s reading, Jesus is having a sort of “bedtime” discussion with His beloved disciples. He is telling them before He leaves to “go back to His Father” about all the things that are about to take place. It frightened them.
Jesus tells them, “No, the Father Himself loves you because you have loved Me and have believed that I came from God. I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:27-28)
They responded by saying, “We now believe.” They total misunderstood. They thought Jesus was saying that because they loved Jesus, God the Father would love them. They were setting their focus and confidence on their own strength, love and dedication to Jesus. This was incredibly shaky ground.
I love how the commentator, David Gudzik, explains this:
“A pulse doesn’t make the heart pump, but it is evidence of it. Our love for God doesn’t make Him love us, but it is evidence that He loves us.” (Enduring Word Commentary By David Guzik)
Let that sink in.
Just like my 4-year-old self, trying to stay awake to listen for my heartbeat did not make it keep beating. That would be impossible.
John reminds us in 1 John 4:10, “This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
Jesus brings the disciples back to the ONLY thing that would give them lasting peace and hope. They cannot depend upon themselves, because all too soon, they would all desert Him.
Yet, though He already knows they will abandon Him, He offers them hope and peace. Jesus holds onto this confidence, “You will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for My Father is with Me.” (John 16:32)
Jesus does cry out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The One who did not deserve to be forsaken, was abandon for the sake of US who have left Him. We all have left Him and gone our own way.
This can be our confidence! Not that we love God. But that He offers to us PEACE and HOPE that cannot be shaken. Not by hardships, not by loss, not even by death itself. It is not based upon our ability to follow Him perfectly, our ability to figure it all out. Even our own failure cannot shake this unshakeable confidence. The only way to this unshakable peace and hope is through anchoring our hearts on Jesus, who says:
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace.
In this world you will have trouble.
But take heart!
I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
Breath Prayer – Take 2-3 minutes today to pray a simple breath prayer. Get somewhere quiet and relaxing. Breathe in deeply, and then breathe out fully. Place two fingers on your wrist and feel your pulse.
As you feel your heart beat, ask God to center you on of the heartbeat of His unfailing love for you.
As you breathe in, say, “Because God loves me. . .”
As you breathe out, offer to God the things you need Him to take from you – sin, self-reliance, doubt, shame, anxiety, fear, etc.
Say, “I can rest in God’s unshakeable peace.”
Pray this way for just a few minutes, trusting God to work.