I was reading the latest volume in the series Ordinary Women of the Bible called No Stone Cast: Eliyanah’s Story. Spoiler alert: it’s about the woman who was accused of adultery. You know, when Jesus told the Pharisees: “Whoever hasn’t sinned should throw the first stone.”
What I found fascinating was the way the main character interacts with Jesus without even knowing who He is and finds herself touched and transformed despite herself.
Women of the Bible seriesWould that be possible for any of us, even today? To encounter transforming love and then wonder where it comes from? It seems to me that God is always at work in my life. It’s just for me to be aware of it, to be open to it, to accept it and grow.
Here are some ways we can realize that kind of love:
1) Accept the power of forgiveness.
Remember how Jesus told that adulterous woman that He didn’t condemn her? He gave her God’s gift of forgiveness. She had to accept it. I often find it easier to forgive others than to forgive myself.
2) Let go of someone you’re not.
Our egos can build up and defend powerful self-images, shadows of our real self. We can produce resumes that sound impressive. But it might be the little daily accomplishments—the kind word, the helpful gesture—that are far greater.
3) Give up labels.
The other day in my quiet prayer time, the phrase “follow me” surfaced. The same words Jesus said to His disciples. They left behind their own labels—their self-identities—to go on a journey that they could never have imagined.
4) Stop judging.
This is so hard. My head is too often full of unkind, unworthy thoughts and comparisons, like the Pharisees. Yet Jesus showed them the way of love by asking them to look at themselves first, before throwing a single stone. He gave them an opportunity to change.
5) Be open to the unexpected path.
I was just talking to a friend who has a wonderful, enriching career helping others. “I never would have expected to be here, doing this and loving it,” she said to me. What has happened to her is far better than anything she could have planned.
6) Remember that God can work anonymously.
The ways the Spirit works always take me by surprise. Whenever I see compassion, care, understanding, justice, patience, faithfulness and goodness at work, I remind myself, “God is here.”
7) Say Yes.
It can be so much easier to say no. “I don’t have the time.” “I’m not good enough.” “I can’t really help.” Take a deep breath and listen more closely. I have moved forward more often when I said yes than when I scowled and scurried away with a no.
Eliyanah’s Story might be set in ancient Israel, but reading about her made me think of how a life can be changed from within when we see—and recognize—the love that’s there.