Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Where There is No Way

My question these days is never “Why, God?”
It’s most often “How?” (Joni Earickson Tada)
God will make a way where there is no way. Through our Red Seas, God makes roads. (Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience)

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

He Is Always Good

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31)

“From where we stand, we can’t see whether something’s good or bad. All we can see is that God’s sovereign and He is always good, working all things for good.” (Ann Voskamp, www.aholyexperience.com)

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Heart Training

“This is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘In this place, desolate and without people or animals—in all its towns there will again be pastures for shepherds to rest their flocks. In the towns of the hill country, of the western foothills and of the Negev, in the territory of Benjamin, in the villages around Jerusalem and in the towns of Judah, flocks will again pass under the hand of the one who counts them,’ says the Lord.
“ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made... (Jeremiah 33:12-14)
Father of my heart, it is hard to wait when I don't know what I'm waiting for. It is hard to not understand where this is going. But Your purpose is not to frustrate me. I will hold tight to You. I will let You hurt me. I will feel the heaviness of this that You give, and I will let it press upon me, and all that is crushed in me will be Yours. I will give this to You as a thank offering for who You are and what You have done. 

I remember days when I saw things as You see them. I felt the weight and the warmth of all that You say is real and great, and the brightness of the wonder of You. I knew Your voice and I loved You. Though I am a stone, dim and cold and senseless, I know that You are the same today as You were then.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)
I cannot imagine what You are doing. But You are greater than my imagination, and I know that I will thank You in the end, so I will thank You now - for every hurt, for every painful step of this way that You are bringing me. I will trust that the way up is down; that these chains bring freedom; that this shame brings honour; that what looks foolish from every human perspective is Your deep wisdom. You alone know how weak I am, and how narrow my perspective is, and yet - what is in my power to give, I give to You. 

I cry to You. I seek Your face. Help me to do this Your way. Let me honour You. Let me break my whole life open on Your feet and worship You without reserve - mind and heart and will together.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Jesus, Rock of Refuge

But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. (Luke 19:14)
I will let Jesus reign over me. I will let Him choose my way, through dim or through light. He is my King and my God. When I stumble and fall, I fall at His feet, and I trust that He will Himself lift me up in His arms. When I cry, I cry to Him. He will someday wipe away all tears.

When I am tired of myself and weary of my way, give me Jesus. I cannot tell what He will do. He may seem to let me down, lead me into harm, leave me alone - but I know who He is. He cannot deny Himself. He must do all for love. Someday I will understand why, and I will tell how He is good when all seems dim. Until then I will wait for Him. I will trust Him to make sense of the dead ends, the seeming betrayal, the tears, the wasted time.
In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
deliver me in your righteousness.
Turn your ear to me,
come quickly to my rescue;
be my rock of refuge,
a strong fortress to save me.
Since you are my rock and my fortress,
for the sake of your name lead and guide me.
Keep me free from the trap that is set for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hands I commit my spirit;
deliver me, Lord, my faithful God.
(Psalm 31:1-5)
How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,

that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
In the shelter of your presence you hide themfrom all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
Praise be to the Lord,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy

when I called to you for help.(Psalm 31:19-22)

Sunday, 11 August 2013

So Let Us Know

"So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth." (Hosea 6:3)
I am always running away, always trying to find an escape from the uncomfortable. I look for shortcuts and easy ways out. I hide from hurt. 

Father, You have found me out. You have followed me all the way here. Teach me to hold on to You and face what comes. Help me to bow, to wait, to accept, to let go. Let me embrace You and release everything that is not You. Whatever comes, I will believe that You are Good. I will give you thanks. I will seek Your way. 

Show me Your goodness. Don't give up on me. Re-order me, and teach me how to seek and find You.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Fighting for Faith

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Believers in humble circumstances ought to take pride in their high position.
(James 1:2-4,9)
My sister told me once that the fears of every human being are rooted in one great fear: that God is not who He says He is. If we do not fear that, we need not fear anything else. It's true. At the bottom of every one of my fears I find the same lie: that God is not Good; that He is not Love; that He is not passionately interested in me. 

How is it that I have given such place in my thoughts to an idea I know to be untrue? How has it so ensnared me that its shadows hold joy captive and overcast my best days? I must learn to fight for faith.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead...
By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.
(Hebrews 11:1, 17-18, 24-27)
I, too, must struggle to reason, to choose mistreatment for God's sake, to persevere.

Father, teach me to see You, the Invisible. 
 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, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he 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 sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 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 spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order 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. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.
(Hebrews 12:1-3, 7-13)

Monday, 5 August 2013

Complaint

When My Heart is Vexed, I Will Complain (C. Rossetti)
"O Lord, how canst Thou say Thou lovest me? Me whom thou settest in a barren land, Hungry and thirsty on the burning sand, Hungry and thirsty where no waters be Nor shadows of date-bearing tree: -O Lord, how canst Thou say Thou lovest me?"
"I came from Edom by as parched a track,
As rough a track beneath My bleeding feet. I came from Edom seeking thee, and sweet I counted bitterness; I turned not back But counted life as death, and trod The winepress all alone: and I am God."
"Yet, Lord, how canst Thou say Thou lovest me?
For Thou art strong to comfort: and could I But comfort one I love, who, like to die, Lifts feeble hands and eyes that fail to see In one last prayer for comfort - nay, I could not stand aside or turn away."
"Alas! thou knowest that for thee I died
For thee I thirsted with the dying thirst; I, Blessed, for thy sake was counted cursed, In sight of men and angels crucified: All this and more I bore to prove My love, and wilt thou yet mistrust My love?"
"Lord, I am fain to think Thou lovest me,
For Thou art all in all and I am Thine; And lo! Thy love is better than new wine, And I am sick of love in loving Thee. But dost Thou love me? speak and save, For jealousy is cruel as the grave."
"Nay, if thy love is not an empty breath
My love is as thine own - deep answers deep. Peace, peace: I give to my beloved sleep, Not death but sleep, for love is strong as death: Take patience; sweet thy sleep shall be, Yea, thou shalt wake in Paradise with Me."
O God, stop my mouth. Still my complaint. Silence my crying. Give me grace to accept all from Your hand. Let me  have strength to go forward in the knowledge of You. Teach me to say, whatever comes, "Your will, not mine, be done." Show me how to wait for Your giving. Make me able to let go of all into your hand.

Truly, Father, I want to do these things! I want to honor You with myself, a living sacrifice. Why am I so unable to rest in You? Why am I so blind, so restless? Why can I not bow before you with singing? I know what You can do. I know who You are. I have known, in the past, peace in the storm, joy in trouble, rest from fear. I have been fed by Your hand. I am so ashamed that I have seemingly come further and become less. If this poverty of soul comes from some choice of mine, then I renounce it, Lord! You are good. If I have refused Your goodness; if I am blinded by wanting my own way, then I am willing to be changed. Set me free, O God, from myself. Restore my spiritual eyesight and my joy. 

I can bend my body; I can direct my mind and draw it in again when it goes wandering - but what can I do with a heart that will not joy in You, except come to You for healing? I may make plans and prohibitions, may remonstrate, may rationalize and resolve; but I am deceived, betrayed from within! 

Yet I place my hope in You, great God. You have shed your own blood, and Yours is the right to bring all things into line with Love. You will not leave me adrift. Creator and Redeemer, You alone have the right to re-order me. I cannot change myself, but You can change me. Give me the strength to deny the arrogant self that asserts itself and betrays me; let me find rest for my weary heart in You. Teach me Your way. Still my clamoring heart. Let me look straight ahead. Make me courageous. Give me warm joy. Remind me how to sing hope-songs in the dark.

I am all a-jumble. Set me upright, and help me to see things as I once saw them. Jesus who died, my heart is Yours. Turn me to You and teach me to love what You love.