Sunday, 30 June 2013

Losing to Save

If anyone will come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me; for whosoever shall desire to save his life shall lose it, but whosoever shall lose his life for My sake, he shall save it. (Luke 9:23-24)
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord. (Psalm 27:14)
Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever. (Psalm 86:11-12)
O Father, my desires are too small, too short-term, too self-focused. I do want more than this; I want to want more than this. You can change me, if You will. Gather up all in me that seeks less than the Christ, and re-direct me. Fill me with a deep longing for the honor of Your name.  Keep me from small, selfish things. Draw me, and I will come after You.

It is hard to lose my life. Remind me that what You give in exchange is never less than what I call worth it. Remind me that Your good is what I would choose if only I knew. Remind me that You never waste anything.

Speak Your comfort to my weary heart, Lord, and lead me the next step forward. Wherever You take me, let me know Your hand in mine. I will honor Your name. I will sing to You. Teach me how to have joy in the middle of the hardness of losing my life for You. Let me feel the weight and the shape of the great hope You have already set before me.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Abba, Father

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.
Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
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. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
(Romans 8:10-30) 
 Why am I so empty of love? Why is my mind so dull and my heart so weak? I struggle and struggle to control my frustration and my anger and my hurt hurt heart. I beat against the bars of my own self. I toss and turn and restlessness wraps around me. I gather myself together and hold tight my tattered shreds of hope amid the shifting shadows. I strain my eyes to see spiritual truth through the dim. But flee or stay, they always catch up with me - hurt, rage, hopelessness. I am the one who is wrong - that much is plain, even to me! Yet - how to change? How to live with grace? I am ashamed. I long for more. I have known - sometime, somehow - love that delights to give even while it hurts; grace like oil; hope like a white-winged bird that rises in the dark and the whorl; peace of heart strong enough to calm the clatter of what-ifs and what-if-nots that crowd me into dim corners. These gifts exist, and the child of God ought to have them. 

Abba, have mercy on my smallness and my emptiness. Give me eyes to see the Christ in the mundane march of my days. Give me a heart like Yours, wide and wild and full of love that delights to cover over others' sin. Give me joy, warm and deep and wide-eyed. Give me strength to run when the road is too long and too uphill. Give me the wisdom that knows not just what - but how and when and why. I am Your child, and I bear Your name. For the honour of Your name, Abba, remember me, and give me Your good gifts.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Honouring His Name

All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered.
(1 Timothy 6:1)

If even slaves are to respect their masters, surely this applies to me. 

Father, I know that You hate slavery. I know that you hate injustice and oppression. Teach me to bow. Teach me to wait for Your deliverance. I want to honour Your name. Show me how to give my boss respect that, as a person, he does not deserve. Show me how to do this without dishonesty, without weakness. You didn't ask Mordecai to kowtow. Show me what this kind of respect should look like. Help me to humble myself and so exalt Your name. I need your wisdom and your grace to do this! Lord, let me live with joy. Let me please and honour You with all that I am.

Monday, 17 June 2013

I Will Arise

(C. Rossetti)
Weary and weak, - accept my weariness;
Weary and weak and downcast in my soul,
With hope growing less and less,
And with the goal
Distant and dim, - accept my sore distress.
I thought to reach the goal so long ago,
At outset of the race I dreamed of rest,
Not knowing what now I know
Of breathless haste,
Of long-drawn straining effort across the waste.
One only thing I knew, Thy love of me;
One only thing I know, Thy sacred same
Love of me full and free,
A craving flame
Of selfless love of me which burns in Thee.
How can I think of thee, and yet grow chill;
Of Thee, and yet grow cold and nigh to death?
Re-energize my will,
Rebuild my faith;
I will arise and run, Thou giving me breath.
I will arise, repenting and in pain;
I will arise, and smite upon my breast
And turn to Thee again;
Thou choosest best,
Lead me along the road Thou makest plain.
Lead me a little way, and carry me
A little way, and listen to my sighs,
And store my tears with Thee,
And deign replies
To feeble prayers; - O Lord, I will arise.
Father, I will call it sweet - this hurt - because You give it. I will not run away, though my heart is weak and I am weary. I will seek You. I am tired of myself - tired of my dim and shallow heart that cannot see anything but its own - but I will trust. How can it be that I am Yours and yet I have so little love? Can I have followed you this far and yet be so lost and empty? I am dried and broken shards. The wilderness frightens me and pens me in.There is no grace in me, no love, no fullness, and no fire. Restorer, come and make me more than this. Draw me from this choking dust, and speak your words to me. Speak to me and make me remember who You are - the greatness and the deepness and the beauty of You, and the honour of Your name, and the fullness that belongs to You and Yours. Open my eyes and my heart to see You. Sweeten this bitterness in my soul.

Is there something I have withheld from You? Is there yet a part of me that holds back? Take it to the last piece, Father. I am weary and full of wondering, but I will not say no to You who gave all. Can You have a purpose for this empty aching and this aimless trek? Yet You must. Can You, who demand my best, give less than Your best to me? Having given Your Son, can You deny me any Good? It is unthinkable. I will seek Your heart - You who stretched forth the heavens and who laid your tired head upon a stone. Speak to me, and I, too, will rise.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Weak, Like Me

Arrogance is weakness, too,
And hardness, self-love, lack of care;
And I, who like to pity my own broken self
Might spare a pang or two
For you, who, drifting from the Source of love and grace,
Are weak and lost in self and helpless,
Just like me.
God, widen me!
Stretch out my narrow mind and hardened heart and dimming sight,
And give me pity for the vengeful weak
Who swing with ineffective rage their sharpened swords
And recoiling, cut themselves with their own hurt.
Remove the stones that I have laid, with tender care for silken self,
Around my heart,
And let me feel the cut of words, the sting of hate;
Then heal me with Your love, and let me sing
A song of patient suffering
And pity for the weak like me;
Teach me to reach out gently to their hurt
With Your own heart
And feel the cut, but love despite
And, pitying, grow strong.

Your Unfailing Love

Know in thy heart that, as a man chasteneth his son, so Jehovah thy God chasteneth thee. (Deuteronomy 8:5)
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life... (Psalm 23:6)

Sunday, 2 June 2013

If We Believe Not

"...Each day brought its register of sin and failure, of lack of power...Then came the question - Is there no rescue? Must it be thus to the end - constant conflict and instead of victory too often defeat? How, too, could I preach with sincerity that to those who receive Jesus, to them gave he the power to become the sons of God (ie Godlike) when it was not so in my own experience?...I hated myself. I hated my sin; and yet, I gained no strength against it. I felt I was a child of God: His Spirit in my heart would cry: 'Abba Father'; but to rise to my privileges as a child, I was utterly powerless.
All the time I felt assured there was in Christ all I needed, but the practical question was how was I to get it out?... I knew full well that there was in the Root abundant fatness; but how to get it into my puny little branch was the question. As the light gradually dawned on me, I saw that faith was the only prerequisite, was the hand to lay hold on His fullness and make it my own. But I had not this faith! I strove for it but it would not come; tried to exercise it, but in vain. Seeing more and more the wondrous supply laid up in Jesus, the fullness of our precious Saviour - my helplessness and guilt seemed to increase...
'If we believe not, He abides faithful.' ...He had said, 'I will never leave you.'" (Hudson Taylor)
But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and you shall go forth, and grow up like calves of the stall. (Malachi 4:2)
This is what I need. I have no faith. I have no perspective. But I will look to Jesus, who is Faithful and True, and cannot leave me. He will arise with healing in His wings.
A Bruised Reed Shall He Not Break

I will accept thy will to do and be,
Thy hatred and intolerance of sin,
Thy will at least to love, that burns within
And thirsteth after Me:
So will I render fruitful, blessing still,
The germs and small beginnings in thy heart,
Because thy will cleaves to the better part.—
Alas, I cannot will.
Dost not thou will, poor soul? Yet I receive
The inner unseen longings of the soul,
I guide them turning towards Me; I control
And charm hearts till they grieve:
If thou desire, it yet shall come to pass,
Though thou but wish indeed to choose My love;
For I have power in earth and heaven above.—
I cannot wish, alas!
What, neither choose nor wish to choose? and yet
I still must strive to win thee and constrain:
For thee I hung upon the cross in pain,
How then can I forget?
If thou as yet dost neither love, nor hate,
Nor choose, nor wish,—resign thyself, be still
Till I infuse love, hatred, longing, will.—
I do not deprecate.

Christina Georgina Rossetti