Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Four, Saturday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Isaiah 7: 14; 8:8; Matthew 1: 23; and John 15: 5

Immortal One, born miraculously of a virgin, entering humbly into this world in a manger, worshiped by lowly shepherds, awe-struck in the eyes of wise men, God has indeed joined humankind and lands safely on planet earth. Immanuel, God is with us. Let all the earth rejoice!

The prophet Isaiah foretold his arrival through the sign of the impossible: a virgin will conceive miraculously by the power of the Holy Spirit and a son will be born.  Isaiah pronounced the King’s arrival by the metaphor of the outspread wings of the floodwaters which will cover the breadth of the land. O Immanuel, the prophet declares, you will cover the earth with outstretched arms of love.

During Lent we are reminded once more of Immanuel, the God who has, is, and continues to be with us. This Immanuel is Jesus, sent to cover our worlds completely and expansively, enveloping our lives from the inside out. When Jesus begins human life, the God-man reaches out to all who cross his path with an generous earnestness and an intentional proactivity which will be marveled at by some and stiff armed my many others. But to those who receive his gift of love, do so with outstretched arms of anticipation and gladness.

God with us, Immanuel, therefore invites us to a “with God” existence. His presence, power and peace are always being initiated toward us, all the time and in every circumstance. Frankly, our great God, personalized in Jesus, will always come to us in merciful, grace-filled, forgiving, and tender-loving ways. The question is not whether he will deliver on his promises to be with us, instead, will we keep our word of desire and decree that we choose to be with him?

It’s a “with God” life that matters most to all who claim his name as Christian. During Lent, we have many opportunities to abide with him as he so graciously abides with us. What does your “with God” existence look like and how is it you wish to show your allegiance to Jesus this Lenten season?

Perhaps you might consider how best to pray during Lent…doing all the talking to God, or choosing instead to notice, listen, and give thanks? Perhaps you might sense an invitation from God to repent of your sinfulness and turn back to godliness? Perhaps you might encourage and celebrate the lives of those who know you best and love you most? Perhaps you might focus more on slowing down and being more, rather than racing faster and accomplishing the most?

Behold him In the sacred light of this new day…believe his promise to be with you forever…belong to his lineage as a faithful disciple…become a person enveloped by his unconditional love. Amen.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.