Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Seventeen, Monday

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.

Read Luke 8: 1-15

Jesus often taught in parables, simple and memorable stories with heartfelt and eternal significance. They were offered to his disciples and followers in earshot of his teaching with an earnest desire for their soul’s welfare here on earth and for all eternity. They were gifts of Jesus, yet another form of his outstretched arms of love, for all who were invited to consider the Kingdom of God both present in Christ in the here and now, and yet to come as we await the ultimate summons to heaven.

The parable of the sower is a story about a farmer who plentifully and extravagantly sowed seed indiscriminately on all soils within his reach. Some of the seed fell along an open pathway, where it was trampled upon by passersby and plucked off by birds of the air that flew in to consume it. Some of the seed was strewn upon rocky soil, so that when it birthed any form of life from within the crevices of rock it came up but soon withered, void of much needed moisture. Still other seed was cast among thorns and thistles along the ground, which awaited any form of growth to then squelch and choke to death.

But, some of the seed actually fell along very good soil. These seeds were welcomed by the rich humus of life-giving nutrition. The good soil was well prepared for the seeds arrival, with plenty of moisture to go around, no rocks or weeds in the way of growth, and ample space to be received and effectuated for life. To the seeds, this was a place of absolute delight.

This parable is all about the soil’s receptivity of the seed, strewn generously by the Sower. What Jesus is reminding his hearers about is the openness (or lack thereof) of hearts prepared to receive the gospel of the Kingdom of heaven. Jesus himself, the living Word, has been presented without judgment to the entirety of the world. But, the world he blessed with his presence is filled with disparate forms of receptivity about his coming. Many (soils) would reject his love; some (good soil) would receive him.

Along the path: hearts are stolen by the devil; on the rocks: not much room for his abiding presence; in the weeds: worrisome, pursuing riches and pleasures instead of God ; but in good soil: noble hearts, persevering and fruitful. With what soil does your soul most resonate today? Are you being stomped upon by the enemy of your soul, or not leaving much space for Jesus to penetrate the recesses of your soul, or are the enticements of this world so all-consuming that you have forgotten to prioritize Jesus?

May the soil of your soul be filled up with the seed of the Sower, so that by receiving the fullness of his outstretched arms of love you are changed from the inside out. Behold his presence; believe his Word; belong to his Kingdom; and become his “junior sower” seeding your world with the love of Jesus.

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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.