“Even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.” Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the LORD your God, for God is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and God relents from sending calamity.” Joel 2:12-13
This message today that gives you an underlying foundation of belief that if you’ve had anything major go wrong in your life to know in faith that you can go ahead and find more good waiting for you ahead. With God’s help there is an ever-expanding good in your life. And in this moment, you find your spiritual readiness.
God’s power is working in every one of us.
But, we must be Ready!
“Here is a true story about a woman who was born in Stamps, Arkansas. She was self-described as a born loser. Born into poverty, born into a broken family, she was raped at age eight. Due to rape trauma, she did not speak for the next five years. She was an unwed mother at age 16, and she tried many ways to support herself and earn a living. She was a dancer, a cocktail waitress, a Creole cook, a nightclub singer, a Madame, a streetcar conductor, the first black female fare collector in San Francisco, and a civil rights organizer. It was about this time that she decided that if her life was going to get better, SHE HAD TO CHANGE HER OWN LIFE. She had to realize that the past did not determine the future.”
It is the truth that we too, must realize. She had to be ready as we must be.
And she had to grasp and pull herself up, and tell herself that she could be created anew with the loving help of God.
Pulling ourselves up when we have fallen – that is something that a lot of people choose never to do. A lot of people face a crisis and they decide it will NEVER get better, their past has been a crisis, and therefore that determines the whole future of their lives. But that is a human lie, we tell ourselves.
I tell you with God, what falls down, must come up.
This lady decided that, with God, she could turn her life around. She started to learn. She started to read. She started to fill her mind with possibilities instead of limitations.
Maya Angelou became a professor at Wake Forest University. Here is what she said.
“When I speak, I speak to beyond the black experience, but I’m always talking about the human condition, about what we can endure, dream, fail at, and still survive.”
In 1992, this woman, who was very, very distinguished, standing over six feet tall, stood in front of the Capitol of the United States to read poetry for President Clinton’s Inaugural. Read this piece of poetry, because this piece of poetry is true about our country, but more so it is true about this lady, and it’s true about you and about me.
We all have power. This is what she’s telling us in this great piece of literature. I ask you to close your eyes after you have read it and focus on it – meditate on how it affects your life and your ability to be ready.
Maya Angelou’s Inaugural Poem
A Rock, A River, A Tree
Hosts to species long since departed,
Marked the mastodon,
The dinosaur, who left dry tokens
Of their sojourn here
On our planet floor.
Any broad alarm of their hastening doom
Is lost in the gloom of dust and ages.
But today, the Rock cries out to us, clearly, forcefully.
Come, you may stand upon my
Back and face your distant destiny,
But seek no haven in my shadow.
l will give you no more hiding place down here.
You, created only a little lower than
The angels, have crouched too long in
The bruising darkness
Have lain too long
Face down in ignorance.
Your mouths spilling words
Armed for slaughter.
The Rock cries out today, you may stand on me,
But do not hide your face.
Across the wall of the world,
A River sings a beautiful song.
It says, Come, rest here by my side.
Each of you, a bordered country,
Delicate and strangely made proud,
Yet thrusting perpetually under siege.
Your armed struggles for profit
Have left collars of waste upon
My shore, currents of debris upon my breast.
Yet today I call you to my riverside.
If you will study war no more. Come,
Clad in peace, and I will sing the songs.
The Creator gave to me when I and the
Tree and the rock were one.
Before cynicism was a bloody sear across your
Brow and when you yet knew you still
The River sang and sings on.
There is a true yearning to respond to
The singing River and the wise Rock.
So say the Asian, the Hispanic, the Jew The African and Native American, the Sioux, The Catholic, the Muslim, the French, the Greek The Irish, the Rabbi, the Priest, the Sheik, The Gay, the Straight, the Preacher, The privileged, the homeless, the Teacher.
They hear. They all hear
The speaking of the Tree.
Today, the first and last of every Tree
Speak to humankind today. Come to me, here beside the River.
Plant yourself beside the River.
Each of you, descendant of some passed
On traveler, has been paid for.
You, who gave me my first name, you
Pawnee, Apache and Seneca, you
Cherokee Nation, who rested with me, then Forced on bloody feet,
Left me to the employment of Other seekers-desperate for gain,
Starving for gold.
You, the Turk, the Swede, the German, the Scot, You the Ashanti, the Yoruba, the Kru, bought Sold, stolen, arriving on a nightmare
Praying for a dream.
Here, root yourselves beside me.
I am that Tree planted by the River,
Which will not be moved.
I, the Rock, I the River, I the Tree
I am youyour Passages have been paid.
Lift your faces, you have a piercing need
For this bright morning dawning for you.
History, despite its wrenching pain
Cannot be unlived, and if faced
With courage, need not be lived again.
Lift up your eyes upon
The day breaking for you
Give birth again
To the dream.
Women, children, men,
Take it into the palms of your hands,
Mold it into the shape of your most
Private need. Sculpt it into
The image of your most public self.
Lift up your hearts
Each new hour holds new chances
For new beginning.
Do not be wedded forever
To fear, yoked eternally
The horizon leans forward,
Offering you space to place new steps of change.
Here, on the pulse of this fine day
You may have the courage
To look up and out upon me, the
Rock, the River, the Tree, your country.
No less to Midas than the mendicant.
No less to you now than the mastodon then.
Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister’s eyes, into
Your brother’s face, your country
And say simply
It’s a powerful message. It’s a message for us today. It’s a message from someone who has failed over and over again at life, a person you would not be angry at if he or she never amounted to anything. But it is a message from someone that decided to amount to something, to give back to humankind a gift.
A person who decided to get and be ready.
Jesus says that you are the light of the world. And when you are attached to God, really attached, when you really follow Jesus Christ, really follow Jesus Christ, you do not just read about Him, you take on His teachings inside of you, and you make a difference right where you are – in your family, in your business, in your service to humankind.
That is why we are here today, believing in practical Christianity today, believing in a living Jesus Christ today, believing in miracles that did not just happen 2,000 years ago, but happen today. We must believe in bigger possibilities as individuals, as Christians. Belief, faith, trust….Ask God to enlighten you on those qualities.
Then focus on the Truth for it will enable you to..