Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Till My Change Come

All the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.
You shall call, and I will answer you... (Job 14:14-15)
Father, let me not sink when I am overwhelmed. Rebuke my enemy, that father of Lies, and save me from the darkness and disorder he would lay on me and so muffle gladness and praise to You. Let thanks come springing from my heart to Your throne. Draw pure worship from the depths of me. Lift me out of the mud, and set my feet on a rock, and let me tell out of dim, weary days who You are, Bright Redeemer of all lost things. 

I don't ask for changed circumstances, but a changed heart. You who promised to make Jacob from a worm into a new sharp-teethed threshing tool, surely You can transform this heavy stone in my breast to a white-winged bird that sings and rises in dark storms to fly straight to Your heart. Let me joy in You, and bring joy to You.

Monday, 29 October 2012

His Mercy Endures Forever

Failure. Yet He knows my heart. And He forgives.

His mercy endures forever.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Binding the Sacrifice

God is the Lord, who has showed us light: bind the sacrifice with cords, even unto the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you: you are my God, I will exalt you. O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: for his mercy endures forever. (Psalms 118:27)
But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6)
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. (Mark 16:17-18)
And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a life-giving spirit... The first man is of the earth, made of dust: the second man is the Lord from heaven... And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly...
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory? (1 Corinthians 15:45, 47-49, 53-55) 
Love can drink bitterness and not die. Self can't do that. It will writhe in agony for days or weeks, but bitterness will surely kill it in the end. God's mercy endures forever. Love never dies. I will step out on this, rest all the weight of my heavy heart on it: death is swallowed up.

Bind this sacrifice with cords, even to the horns of the altar. My heart (and that long-clawed self within it) kick and bite and scratch and resist the bitterness, but I will have Love. I will drink the bitterness of another's sin. I will bear the hurt and not pass it on. I will hold it close and not turn it to anger or hatred or something that gives me more power. I will let myself be humbled and made foolish. I will wait. I will hold myself still. I will entrust myself to Him who judges righteously.

"You can't do it!" calls the Enemy. "You're too weak. You will break down in the end. Or you will do this wrong and it will destroy you. Give up now!"
The power of his words lies in their half-truth. I am too weak. And bitterness drunk wrong, not in love, is an acid that seeps and burns the beauty and the strength out of life. But that is only half the truth. This battle is not mine to fight. I am still a child in this, just learning to wield weapons like Love against the terrible power of hatred and selfishness. The Teacher is near, and he has brought me here. He will fight for me.

I am afraid. The death of self is no easy thing. It is messy and painful. But faith is made of this, being afraid and walking forward anyway, and when self dies, Love will live! I want to know what that is like, and I want that knowledge to shape me and make me into more than my tired, confused self. I want to live deep and warm and rich and strong and beautiful and free.

His mercy endures forever. I believe it.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Restoration for a Weary World

Sometimes you get destroyed in the grinding wheels of this great old world; sometimes the coldness and the hardness (it was never meant to be there!) just club you to death and you wonder why and why and why...and sometimes you brush too close to the way it is, razor-sharp, and the raw sting of fresh wounds rises and becomes an old, old ache. It wasn't meant to be this way, you know...this gaping wilderness where we look for warmth, communion, joy. There was a day before this violence, these lies...and there is One who gave all to fight it.

To arms, to arms! The earth is given into the hand of the wicked. (Job 9:24) He will not be defeated with the iron of will nor the cold steel of hatred. Distrust will not shield us from his lies; anger will not kindle a fire great enough to overcome him. No, we must learn to wield more potent weapons than these.

Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. (Ephesians 6:14-18)

It will cost us, this battle. It cost Him all.

The other gods were strong; but Thou wast weak;
They rode, but Thou didst stumble to a throne;
But to our wounds only God’s wounds can speak,
And not a god has wounds, but Thou alone. (from Edward Shillito's Jesus of the Scars)

They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations. (Isaiah 61:4)

Still With You

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days you have ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand. When I awake, I am still with you. (Psalms 139:13-18)

Is it still faith if I am not sure I am following? If I am just going this way because it's the way I'm in? Is it still faith if there is no promise? No promise, yet I cling to You, Father of my heart. No direction, yet I trust You to order my steps. I walk blind, and I trust You to turn me around if I have been mistaken. I am afraid, maybe more afraid of my own failure and foggy-thinking than I am of anything You might give me. I am not holding to what You have told me; I am just holding to You...You who know me fully and love me deeply. 

Let me know You. Give me the creativity and the strength and the courage and the blood-red love to let You so imprint Yourself on me that I will be able to communicate You to hearts full of wilderness. I am thankful that You have not asked me for words, because I don't have them. I don't really even know what to ask for...but You have read my heart. I am not even sure of myself, but You are. 

In your time, come to me with Your Grace, Lord Jesus. I am waiting for You here.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

To You I Call

To you I call, O LORD my Rock; do not turn a deaf ear to me. For if you remain silent, I will be like those who have gone down to the pit. (Psalm 28:1)
 Show me Your way, God. I am listening.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Learning Jesus

I am learning
To walk with You;
One by one
Match my steps to Yours,
Hold myself still
When fear creeps
When self shrieks

I am learning
To go along with You
Pushing on
When I want to rest
Waiting with You
When I cannot rest
When I want to flee

I am learning
To fix my eyes on You
Let You draw me
Take me by the hand
Calm my stormy heart
When the tension tightens
When the hurt grows great

I am learning
To seek Your heart
Let Your love
Fill my emptiness
Trust Your kindness
When the way is dim
When my heart is sore

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Do Not Be Anxious

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
I have a lot of questions these days, and I'm emotionally all over the place, but this has been my answer over and over again. It shows up everywhere I look these days - almost every day. God has not let me go. He will take care of me. He is unlimited. Praise him, my weary heart!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Self Pity Revealed

When I was really little, I used to have this recurring dream. In my dream, I was walking down the steps into our basement - except the basement was FULL of stuff. I mean full - like, I couldn't walk on the floor because stuff was piled everywhere. That wasn't too far off our basement, since we had lots of stuff, but this stuff was different. It was organized, neatly piled, but everywhere. There weren't even paths between it. As I went down the steps, I could hear a baby crying. I went crawling over piles of furniture, linens, and who knows what else. In the middle of all this, there was a crib, with a baby in it. I was filled with compassion for this poor, crying baby, and I picked it up and took it upstairs to my mother. I expected her to feel the same way I did - pity for the poor, helpless, crying baby. Instead, she looked at it with shock and horror. As I was explaining to her where I found the poor thing, she cried, "Drop it! It's not a baby! It's an evil spirit!" At that point, I would always wake up from my dream with my heart pounding, terrified. I could never get to sleep again after that dream. In the light of day, my dream felt foolish but creepy.

Much, much later, after I had grown up and graduated from university, I was going through a hard time. I was depressed, crying way too often, and I felt out of control. One day I was taking a shower and crying in the shower, wondering when the pain would end, when I thought of my dream and the crying baby. I had always wondered what it meant. Then, as suddenly as if someone had spoken, I was struck by the realization that I was the baby, perpetually crying. The pity I had felt for that baby in my dream was the self-pitying spirit that I had allowed to take hold of me. There was no baby. The self-pity I was allowing myself was evil and destructive, and it was making me weak, not strengthening me the way compassion does. I immediately rejected it, and I was set free.

Yesterday, I realized that I had again picked up that baby in my heart. I had allowed a spirit of self-pity to grip me in the same way. Again, I rejected it as soon as I realized, and I felt a freedom I haven't had in a long time. This morning I had another little struggle with it, then I was again set free.

Praise God! I don't need self-pity. It is God's job to pity me and worry about me. It is my job and my great privilege to seek his glory. I don't need to feel sorry for myself. The very God of heaven allows me to work alongside him. He holds my hand. I am finished with feeling sorry for myself. Jesus is mine, and I am his. Whatever I lose, whatever I miss, I have Him, and my purpose and my place in him is infinitely suitable to me and pleasant to my soul.

God has again healed me from a hurt I didn't believe even he could, or would, heal. Celebrate with me! This is not over, but it has begun to be over. Oh,dear God! Dear peaceful God!

...a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.They will be called oaks of righteousness,a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor(Isaiah 61:3)

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Let Us Fix Our Eyes On Jesus

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
“My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. (Hebrews 12:1-12)
From Isobel Kuhn's In The Arena:
On the ship on the way to China, a veteran missionary was meeting with the new girls going over, and one day she said, “Girls, when you get to China, all the scum of your nature will rise to the top.” Isobel “was shocked. Scum? Was that not a strong word? All of us were nice girls, were we not? Scum? A bit extravagant surely. And so I was totally unprepared for the revolt of the flesh which was waiting for me on China’s shores. The day was to come when on my knees in the Lord’s presence I had to say: ‘Lord, scum is the only word to describe me.’” 
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness

instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor(Isaiah 61:3)

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Our God Is In Control

This is not how it should be
This is not how it could be
This is how it is
And our God is in control

This is not how it will be
When we finally will see
We'll see with our own eyes
He was always in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

This is not where we planned to be
When we started this journey
But this is where we are
And our God is in control

Though this first taste is bitter
There will be sweetness forever
When we finally taste and see
That our God is in control

And we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
And we will finally really understand what it means
So we'll sing holy, holy, holy is our God
While we're waiting for that day

We're waiting for that day
We'll keep on waiting for that day
And we will rise
Our God is in control

(Steven Curtis Chapman)

Father, you won`t leave me here. This is your way to build surety in my heart of who you are, of what you are doing with me. I am lost and afraid, but when you have brought me through all my fears, I will know better how to trust you. You are defeating the power of fear over me. I am waiting for you.
I know the one who trusts you has peace in this world, not just in the next one. You don`t ask me to wait too long. You will come to me. You will renew me and heal me. You will explain. I trust you.

More Into the Treasury

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny.
Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” (Mark 12:41-44)
Father, teach me to let go - when no one can see, and when my little seems much only to me and giving it can accomplish nothing for anyone else.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. (Matthew 16:24-25)
 Let me wreck myself on you, Lord Jesus. I have neither the strength nor the vision to do it, but you can let me.
O Lord, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
Do not bring your servant into judgment,
for no one living is righteous before you.
The enemy pursues me,
he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in darkness
like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
my heart within me is dismayed.
I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
Answer me quickly, O Lord;
my spirit fails.
Do not hide your face from me
or I will be like those who go down to the pit.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Rescue me from my enemies, O Lord,
for I hide myself in you.
Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.
 (Psalm 143:1-10) 
Father, you are able to overcome the chaos in me. You can re-order my thoughts and control my emotions. I don't even know how I should be feeling now, but you can make me right. Until you do, I will offer you my hurt and my confusion as a sacrifice of love. I will trust you to hold my hand tight.
Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Before Abraham Was, I Am

Jesus said to them, Truly, truly, I say to you, Before Abraham was, I am. (John 8:58)
I don't know why this gives me comfort when nothing else seems to, but, like Job, I find the knowledge of who God is more settling than any of the things I would have supposed might bring me peace.
Father, glorify your name! (John 12:28)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Meditations From a Weary Day

Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. (Micah 7:8)
We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. Then many will give thanks on our behalf for the gracious favor granted us in answer to the prayers of many. (2 Corinthians 1:8-11)
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain meThen I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. (Psalm 51:12-13)
Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me. (Psalm 50:14-15)
You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. (Psalm 16:11)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? (Romans 8:32)
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33)
 Father, You are truth. You can neither lie nor deceive. You are Good. My thinking is mixed up. I am tired and discouraged. I can't see what you are doing with me. I can't control my own thinking and feeling. Forgive my lack of faith and my complaining, which denies your mercy and your love to me. Gather me up and re-order my thoughts and my affections until You are again the centre and the source. Teach me your way, and lead me when I cannot see. Fight for me! Renew my spiritual sight and my strength. Dry my tears. Let me rise like a bird and fly to you. Let me bring glory to the name of Jesus and so joy to your heart.
Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done. The things you planned for us no one can recount to you; were I to speak and tell of them, they would be too many to declare...Yet I am poor and needymay the Lord think of meYou are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay.(Psalm 40:5,17)
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Monday, 1 October 2012

Still Raining

Praise You In This Storm

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen", and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear Your whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand

You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry to you
And you raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

(Casting Crowns)

Lord, I did think you would have come by now and changed my heart. You know just how tired I am. I know that this is for me. I know that you are giving me Good.But I am like a child, overtired and hungry and having lost a toy. I know better, but my heart overwhelms me.  Overcome the part of me that kicks against you. Deal with my stubbornness. Bend my thinking to yours. I wait for you.