Wednesday, 1 January 2014

A New Thing

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. (Isaiah 43:19)
 A New Thing - from The Rabbit Room

2013 kicked my butt, and I was glad to see it to the door. No matter what the new year brings, my hope is that I will bring something different. I hope, I pray that I will be made more like my Father, who is full of mercy and loves without expecting anything back. In the beginning of this last long, dark year, I would have been happy with any change - my situation or my heart - anything that would bring me back to solid ground, anything that would let me be kind, joyful, thankful. Now only an inside change will suffice. New circumstances can not make this long road worth it. I must have my heart changed. I must have the strength, the peculiar grace to be kind, joyful, thankful in any circumstance. I will not be satisfied with less than the power to love past my weary, twisted self. I must have the strength to bear gladly.
We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to his people, who live in the light. For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. (Colossians 1:11-14)
In this place bereft of mercy, I must learn to come often before Him who is compassionate and true - The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth (Exodus 34:6) - and having received, take and spread out the costly beauty of mercy where it may be snatched and discarded, and I misunderstood. I must be willing to give what costs without expecting anything back.
In all their distress he too was distressed,
and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
he lifted them up and carried them... (Isaiah 63:9) 
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.
“If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:27-36)
Father, let me live Your way - open handed and open hearted - receiving from You so I can give what costs without expecting anything back. Let me learn this people's suffering, and understand what traps them. Let me feel the weight of what binds them, and bear me up. Carry me and give me love that can withstand the strain of not being loved in return. This grace You can give, and I will seek it from Your hand. I will lie at Your door like Lazarus. Even the crumbs from Your table must be better than my mustered resolve, which twists and buckles under the heavy weight of loneliness, fear, indignation. You can make me more. I will have all that You have promised to those who love you!
I will not let you go unless you bless me. (Genesis 32:26)
Redeem my brokenness and my warping, Father. Gather up all my pieces and put me back together. Make me able to give again. Remember the promises You give to Your sons and daughters. Wipe away my selfish tears, and let me work gladly for Your glory. Replace self-pity with mercy, and fear with love. Teach me to guard and not grasp. Show me where joy is found. Let me face this year with passion and patience and red hot courage. You have these gifts to give, and You are the One who has taught me to desire them.
Turn to me and have mercy on me,
as you always do to those who love your name.
Direct my footsteps according to your word;
let no sin rule over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may obey your precepts.
Make your face shine on your servant
and teach me your decrees. (Psalm 119:132-135)
Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word. (Psalm 119:37)

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