Thursday, 28 February 2013

A Hard Truth

I will tell the truth, though it looks to shame me and God both. The God worth worshiping must be honoured by truth, no matter what kind.

I am at the bottom today. I just have nothing left. I am embarrassed that I can't seem to muster up a better response to this, can't accept it joyfully, can't be the person the Bible and my conscience and a million other people think I should be. I feel like a failure. I am a Christian but I can't seem to forgive. I have no grace. I am just hurt. Nothing else but hurt. I don't know why God is allowing me to feel and be like this.

Of course I know that someday I will thank Him. Someday I will see how He was giving good in this...but I just don't understand why He isn't helping me deal with it in the meantime.I am so tired and so humiliated and so without hope. If I had an escape I would take it. There just isn't one.

Who shall I hold responsible for my shame, scattered and splattered about me for all to see: my inability to overcome my own self, my failure to smile and accept hurt, my childish short-term view, my raging impotence... Shall I blame God? He is the only one with the power to so enclose me. He is the only one with the power to rescue me. Where is his shield? Where is his pavilion?

Father, I don't know what You are doing with me. It looks like we have both failed, except that, if it were so, it would be a much greater crime for You. I believe in You, but I am overwhelmed. Please help me.

Testing God

Perhaps God is not testing me. Perhaps He is putting me in the place to test Him. I have already seen the awful strength of human agency that is willing to stoop to manipulation, trickery, and lies. I know all too well how much power evil has in this world and how cruel it can be when it is turned against me. The question is, then, can they who are willing to use such power win over me when I use prayer instead?

I will lay hold upon God with my heart, with my hope, with my words. I will require that the full force of His strength be turned toward the accomplishing of my good. I will call upon Him for shield and for defense. So will I make proof of the God who promises Himself to me.

Great God, come and show your power to heal, to control, to redeem. Prove to me that love and prayer are stronger weapons than hatred and manipulation. Teach my hands to fight. Make me strong and sure in You. Win over my enemies with the irresistible force of Your love. Jesus has already overcome. Make me, too, an overcomer in His strength.

Heart Cries

Father, in my heart there is hate and anger and bitterness, self-preservation and pride and the desire to hit back. I don’t know how far I am willing to go to be free from these, but I do know that I don’t choose them and I don’t want them. You know that I cannot make myself free from them. You know that I am weak and weary. I believe that it is Your desire to burn these out of me, and I consent with my will even when I cannot complete the action. You see me to the depths. Even when I don’t know myself, You know me. Read my heart, and see there, beneath the fighting and the snarling and the self-love, my true desire to honour Jesus Christ. Satisfy my deep heart, and not these petty wishes that overshadow it and overcome my near-sighted self with their alternate shrieks and groans. I confess my wrong before You. I cannot change myself, but I invite You to shine Your light into my conflicted soul, to witness my shame, and so to set me free from it. Let me receive Your rich grace so that I will be able to give it. You humble and exalt. I bend myself before You. I would have Jesus.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

To Him Who Judges Justly

Father, I am tired of trying so hard to give grace to those who disrespect me. Buddha says that I could just stop wanting to be respected. Religion says that I should just try harder. I know that these aren't Your way. Please, pour Your love into my heart so that I will be able to accept any treatment and keep giving. 
When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:23)
I want to make threats. I want to shut them down. But hold me. Set your guard in front of my mouth. Capture my rebel of a heart, and let me be led by Love. Let me be so thoroughly loved by You that I can be hurt but not overcome by the withholding of human love. Only You can do this in me, and I believe it is Your desire. When I try to do it with my own strength, the bile rises in my throat and I am forced to back down in defeat. O God, be merciful to me, a sinner! Control me. Teach me to dance Your dance.
You judge justly. I do trust You! Please manage my whirling thoughts and my pride-wounded heart. Let me lay this, too, on Your altar. Teach me to die gladly to my awful, powerful self. Let me love.

Monday, 25 February 2013

Cry to Jesus

To everyone who's lost someone they love
Long before it was their time
You feel like the days you had were not enough
when you said goodbye

And to all of the people with burdens and pains
Keeping you back from your life
You believe that there's nothing and there is no one
Who can make it right

There is hope for the helpless
Rest for the weary
Love for the broken heart
There is grace and forgiveness
Mercy and healing
He'll meet you wherever you are
Cry out to Jesus, Cry out to Jesus

For the marriage that's struggling just to hang on
They lost all of their faith in love
They've done all they can to make it right again
Still it's not enough

For the ones who can't break the addictions and chains
You try to give up but you come back again
Just remember that you're not alone in your shame
And your suffering

When your lonely
And it feels like the whole world is falling on you
You just reach out, you just cry out to Jesus
Cry to Jesus

To the widow who suffers from being alone
Wiping the tears from her eyes
For the children around the world without a home
Say a prayer tonight

To Him

To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. (1 Peter 5:11)

God of the universe, and God of me. He does no wrong. He never lets me go. He will give good.

Let us bend ourselves before Him and be free. Let us lay down our one precious wild life at His feet and prove that He wastes nothing, is worthy of all, is in Himself enough

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Managing Time

I think time management is one of our biggest problems. Most people will think I am talking about myself. I don't mean being late for appointments, which I confess to being - way too often - but failing to fit our thinking into God's time. We click the link and we want to move to the next page; punch in the code and expect our money in the slot; send up a prayer for healing and expect a flash and a puff of smoke. God didn't fix the problem? You must be doing something wrong. This is supposed to work.
Then Elihu continued and said,
“Wait for me a little, and I will show you
That there is yet more to be said in God’s behalf.
“I will fetch my knowledge from afar,
And I will ascribe righteousness to my Maker.
“For truly my words are not false;
One who is perfect in knowledge is with you.
“Behold, God is mighty but does not despise any;
He is mighty in strength of understanding.
“He does not keep the wicked alive,
But gives justice to the afflicted.
Job sat with sores and groaned and raged, and God let him sit there until the time was right. I'm curious about how much of his pain came from the trouble Satan gave him and how much of it came from the advice his friends tried to give him. One tried to wait for the time. He sat silently with Job for three precious days. But in the end, those odious friends increased Job's suffering. They said things that were, for the most part, true. It's obvious that they were well-meaning enough. But they thought God would zap Job with healing when Job said the right words or did the right thing. They were wrong about Job and they were wrong about God, all because they couldn't believe that God would ask anyone to wait. They gave advice when it was still time to give comfort.
For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones. (Isaiah 49:13)
God comforts. God heals. He will not leave us alone forever, but most of the time, His healing takes time. It doesn't happen like Benny Hinn and his ilk would have us believe, with the wave of an arm. We are like children in love with magic. We think faith means being sure that God can do it. He can heal you. Right here, right now. But what if faith means being willing to wait for God to heal you? Not here, not now. The healing our Father gives is rarely instantaneous. It takes time. It lets us hurt and wonder. It challenges what we really believe. It breaks the idols we have labeled "God", and shakes the foundations of our understanding. It gives us the impetus to toss out all that is merely comfortable and not immovable.
...that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:7)
If love is being willing to suffer, then faith is being willing to wait. clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you...But the God of all grace, who has called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, restore, establish, strengthen, settle you. To him be glory and dominion forever and ever. (1 Peter 5:5-7, 10-11)
Job's friends thought they were stronger than him, as evidenced by the fact that he continued to suffer and they did not. They were trying to be helpful, but their helpfulness was lined with pride. In the end, God demanded that they ask Job to pray for them.

These days I have been heart-hurt, and it has left me, like Job, weakened and confused and complaining to God. A friend I counted on for comfort gave me, instead, advice. It was good advice, but it was bitter to my soul, and it increased my complaint. Then came a text message from Mom and Dad - "Come home whenever you want." Love. No judging my weakness. No pointing out my foolishness. No preaching. Just the Father's heart revealed in a mother and father's desire to shelter their own.

That message sent me running straight Home - into the arms of my heavenly Father. Those words echoed in my heart all weekend, and healed my hurt, a little bit at a time. In the end, it was comfort, not advice, that made me strong enough to hear hard truth from God and willing to take on the responsibility of loving those who don't love me.
...your right hand has held me up, and your gentleness has made me great. (Psalm 18:35)
My response to hurt was wrong, and I knew it, but I was powerless to overcome it with that knowledge. Instead, understanding, comfort, sympathy - these have drawn out the bitterness from my heart, and I am ready to forgive. I am ready to be a servant again. I am willing to bear hurt for Jesus' sake. I am willing again to forgive both those who hate me and those who love me too little.
Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that you break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? when you see the naked, that you cover him; and that you hide not yourself from your own flesh? Then shall your light break forth as the morning, and your health shall spring forth speedily: and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then shall you call, and the Lord shall answer; you shall cry, and he shall say, Here I am. If you take away from the midst of you the yoke, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness; And if you draw out your soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall your light rise in the darkness, and your darkness be as the noon day: And the Lord shall guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones: and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And they from among you shall build the old waste places: you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; and you shall be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of streets to dwell in. (Isaiah 58:6-12)
I have learned from this experience. May God save me from my desire to impart wisdom, most unwise, and give me the patience and the humility to do the hard work of undoing heavy burdens, sharing what is mine, allowing weak people to see my own weak spots. May He keep me from pointing fingers at the problem when it seems so clear to me. May He make me less a teacher and more a repairer.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

No "Shoulds": Mercy for the Weak and Weary

The hardest thing about feeling hurt is the sense of weakness that goes along with it. How I hate that feeling of shame, of being out of control, of being pitiful! This is the ground where hatred grows. As I lay there, knocked flat and struggling to get back up, The Lie comes. Hatred will give me back a sense of power. Instead of being the victim, I can wield the weapon. In the realm of my own heart, I am the ruler, and I can punish those who cross me. Hatred is just hurt turned inside out.

Father, save me from what is worse than hurt! Teach me to be patient so I can wait for Your Love to come and give me real strength. Keep me from believing that old, old lie. Come to me quickly. Hold me in your arms while I wait for Your strength to be perfected in my weakness. You have searched me and known me. You keep my tears in Your bottle. This waiting time is so hard and I want to run and scream and hit something...but You are waiting with me. You will make me strong to love those who don't love me. Your will be done. Look deep in my heart, dear Father, and see that I trust You.

Today I felt tired and hurt and frustrated and judged and ashamed...just discouraged. Then I was texting with Mom and Dad tonight and they said, "There is no shame in weakness..." and it washed over me in wave after wave. Mercy-! No shoulds. No platitudes. The broken jumble of my heart just melted down and worshiped the kind of God who would invent such a beautiful idea.

Father, grant me mercy for myself and mercy for those who hurt me. You are beautiful, and I long to be like You. Fill me up full with your oceans of mercy.
O LORD, you have searched me
and you know me. (Psalm 139:1)
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting. (Psalm 139:23,24)
All the days of my struggle I will wait
Until my change comes. (Job 14:14)

Tuesday, 19 February 2013


Struggling these days with pride and discouragement...same old enemies, same old problem, back again.
O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? (Romans 7:24)
Do I need new answers, or a new heart to accept the old ones? I feel so tired in my heart. I know the One I have to deal with. I know He chooses for me. I know He is Good. I know the problem is not what I receive from that Giver of Good. The problem is me. The problem is that I am weak and weary. I forget who He is, the One who makes my way.

I do not fear circumstance...I fear my reaction to circumstances that humble and confuse me and make me angry and fearful and defensive. Why am I like this, so easily tired and so uncontrolled? Why am I so graceless? Where is the One who lays me so low and then retreats, saying only "Trust me"?

Father, help me to remember that this is not the end. You know that my reaction in the heat of the moment does not reflect my ultimate choice. You know what I seek. You see my heart to its core - you know my weakness, but you also know my bent will. You see me, the real me. There is nothing to prove, nothing to show. Look into my deep heart. I am not without fault, but in the deepest part of me, I am not afraid of being known by You. I choose You. I give myself to You. I know that You are trustworthy, and You know that I do love You.

Emotion raises such a clamour - how shall I overcome? Only Love - the pure river of love for Jesus, flowing from the heart of God through me - can soothe its clanging, and that love is out of reach. I can't snatch it. Can't catch it. Can't grab it or corner it. I must receive it from His hand, that Loving One. I will wait for Him. He means for me to be more than this. He will not leave me here. I trust Him.
Love suffers long, and is kind; love envies not; love vaunts not itself, is not puffed up, does not behave itself rudely, seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, keeps no record of evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails... (ICorinthians 13:4-8)
Lord, when I have turned the corner, let me remember how long and how hard this road is. Melt all my hard hurt down into mercy. Make me able to speak peace to weary hearts. Let me love You long without getting tired.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became his counselor? Or who has first given to him that it might be paid back to him again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-35)

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Put On a Heart of Humility

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience: bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone: just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. (Colossians 3:12-13)

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
Father, I want to do this Your way. I want to learn Your heart, that gives up its own. I want the strength to bend my will and my way to give even to those who hurt me. I want to love my enemies. I want to learn the kind of grace that bows when it wants to fight; that cedes what it could win; that refrains from defending its own rights; that willingly takes the low place. I want this more than I want power, more than I want place, more than I want to be recognized. I want Your praise more than I want the praise of those around me. I want to please You when it means my hurt, my loss, my humiliation. Please make me able. Make me strong for this. Teach me to war against my rebel self. Let me bear humiliation here and so save me from the real shame of my triumphant self.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Live a Life of Love

And live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Romans 5:8)
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:38-45)
It is hard to give up. I always want to fight when I am stepped on, when things are unfair. Jesus' way isn't easy. It's the hard way - letting go when you want to hold on, loving when you want to hate, bending when you want to yell and punch. Only He can make us able for this. Humanity can carry us through many things, but only the grace of God can strengthen us to accept unfairness and insult. My pride won't be beaten into shape - it must be melted down and poured out before Him.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

Toward the Mark

Praise be to the LORD my Rock,
who trains my hands for war,
my fingers for battle.
He is my loving God and my fortress,
my stronghold and my deliverer,
my shield, in whom I take refuge... (Psalm 144:1,2)
I love my job. I like to work, and I have been putting in a lot of extra hours because I want to create something, not just show up. I think some people misunderstand my motives, and I am finding myself in the middle of a battle over prime real estate in the pecking order. It's a battle I am losing, of course, because that's not what I am here for, but sometimes it's hard to remember what I am here for...and then, my pride kicks at being stepped on and manipulated, and how I hate to be both left behind and misunderstood!

Thank God I never have to scrabble for position...but my Father doesn't rescue me from humiliation, or from the "low place". He took it, and He expects me to take it too.

Father, teach me to fight - not others, but that part of me that wants to win, that wants honor for self instead of for You. Win over me, and make me content with the place You give me, high or low. Let me work to please You alone. Be always, always in my view, and let me not lose sight of my real purpose. Remind me who I am in You, and the high place You offer me in Christ, so that I never, ever feel the need to find justification or praise from this world. Help me to see that it is a far higher place to be Your slave than the CEO of any company human society can come up with.

Let me seek Your "Well done!" without fainting. Teach me to bend low. Teach me to make my life a sacrifice so that Your name might be lifted high. Let me live in Love, giving all that I am for Your sake wholeheartedly and without grudging.
I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)

Friday, 1 February 2013

How Can a Man Then Understand?

Say not, I will repay evil; but wait on the Lord, and he shall save you. (Proverbs 20:22)
A man's steps are of the Lord; how can a man then understand his own way? (Proverbs 20:24)
Blows of a wound cleanse away evil: as do stripes the inner depths of the heart. (Proverbs 20:30)
I don't understand my own way, but you do, Father. I trust You. Come and help me. Give me your peace. Fill me up full with your love. I am tired of myself. I am the one that I fear. Make me more than I am, and let me spend my life and all that I have to show who You are.
There is no one else beside You
In the darkest night
In the wilderness...  (No One Else - Fernando Ortega)