Inner silence

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Happy are people who have pure hearts, because they will see God. ~Matthew 8:5 (CEB)

October can be so busy. I come to the end of it every time and wonder where it has gone off to. October 31st always finds me taking a deep sigh. Gone are the packed weekends. I even have a couple of weeks where we don’t feel so overly busy. Then Thanksgiving hits and we find ourselves running again.  At the end of such a busy time it seems good to remind myself of the need for silence… the inner kind of silence.

Inner silence is the absence of any sort of inward stirring thought or emotion, but it is complete alertness, openness to God. We must keep complete silence when we can, but never allow it to degenerate into simple contentment.

“Silence is the state in which all the powers of the soul and all the faculties of the body are completely at peace, quiet and recollected, perfectly alert yet free from any turmoil or agitation. A simile which we find in many writings of the Fathers is that of the waters of a pond. As long as there are ripples on the surface, nothing can be reflected properly, neither the trees nor the sky when the surface is quite still, the sky is perfectly reflected, the trees on the bank and everything is there as distinct as in reality.

Another simile of the same sort used by the Fathers is that of that as long as the mud which is at the bottom of a pond has not settled, the water is not clear and one can see nothing through it. These two analogies apply to the state of the human heart. ‘Blesses are the pure in heart for they shall see God’ As long as the mud is in motion in the water there is no clear vision through it, and again as long as the surface is covered with ripples there can be no adequate reflection of what surrounds the pond.

As long as the soul is not still there can be no vision, but when stillness has brought us into the presence of God, then another sort of silence, much more absolute, intervenes: the silence of a soul that is not only still and recollected but which is overawed in an act of worship by God’s presence; a silence in which, as Julian Norwich puts it, ‘Prayer oneth the soul to God’. ~From Living Prayer by Anthony Bloom

Heavenly Father, help me to quiet my soul this day so that I may reflect Your love to those around me. Settle the restlessness inside of me from too much activity. Quiet my heart so I may hear Your wisdom in the space. Amen.

Navigation through life

 

14681578_10154012290967285_4890448441906188503_nSend your light and truth—those will guide me! Let them bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place. ~Psalm 43:3 (CEB)

Now that I have discovered the navigation app on my phone I have gotten to where I will use the application even for some trips that I feel rather confident about. It has been fun to see if there are better ways to get where I need to go or to see if the route I have been choosing has been the best way all along. A few days ago I had it on while driving through slightly familiar parts when I realized that my phone was warning me of upcoming trouble. On I-24 just outside of Clarkesville, there were major traffic problems and my phone was adjusting my travel time by 15-20 min to allow for the blockage. Now that I knew there was a situation I had to make a decision whether to continue on my regular route that would take me through the situation stop, somewhere and wait out the traffic or use my phone and find an additional route to avoid the situation altogether.

From where I was I could not see any problems. My driving was not being hindered at all at the moment. Should I rely on what the phone was telling me or just take my chances? Whether to trust my phone or not that was the question. After a short discussion with myself, I decided to find an alternate route. My phone was quick to show me that I could drive on a highway that was parallel to the interstate for eleven miles and get onto the interstate at a different point. Following this suggestion didn’t save me much time, but it would save me the aggravation and stress of sitting in traffic.

Relying on the Holy Spirit more in my life makes my travels easier as well. The Holy Spirit can see ahead to things beyond my sight. If I follow the Holy Spirit’s leading it can steer me clear of roadblocks and dangers, side-stepping much aggravation and stress. The more I trust the Holy Spirit for what I can’t see the more confident my travels through life will be. I still have to travel this life. That is not an option, but I can seek God even before things become bigger than me. God will help me to be more than I am handling each situation as it comes. Fear and anxiety may always camp near my back door, but the Holy Spirit helps me to keep them at bay. I keep finding myself overwhelmed and balking at change but the Holy Spirit empowers me and gives me strength to live each day.

Heavenly Father I thank you for Your Holy Spirit that lives in me. I thank you that I can count on Your guidance in my daily life.  May it always draw my closer to You. Amen

Called to be Gentle

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He won’t break a bent stalk, and he won’t snuff out a smoldering wick, until he makes justice win. And the Gentiles will put their hope in his name. ~Matthew 12:20-21 (CEB)

Even though Jesus speaks out against all forms of hypocrisy and is not afraid to attack deception, vanity, manipulation and oppression, his heart is a gentle heart. He won’t break the crushed reed or snuff the faltering wick. He responds to people’s suffering, heals their wounds, and offers courage to the fainthearted. Jesus came to bring the good news to the poor, sight to the blind, and freedom to prisoners (Luke 4:18-19). Jesus considered others in all he says, and thus he reveals God’s immense compassion.

As a follower of Christ, I am to have his compassion for the world. Jesus charged us to go out declaring the good news to everyone. (Mark 16:15) To a world that may know more about fear, harshness, and misunderstandings by my gentleness I can bring hope. Jesus came into the world to give hope to the world and as his hands and feet, we are charged with continuing his work to all corners of the earth. (Luke 24:47)

In my ordinary dealings this day may I remember to show Christ’s compassion to those around me. May I consider others in all I say and do remembering that I may be the only Christ others see. My actions can bring someone to Christ or it may turn them away forever. Today I want to have Christ’s gentleness.

Father in Heaven may I learn to have Your gentle heart showing your compassion to those I meet this day. Amen.

Be Strong! Don’t Fear!

 

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For God gave us not a spirit of fearfulness; but of power and love and discipline. ~2 Timothy 1:7 (NRSV)

I have never really thought before about fear being a spirit. It certainly can influence me. Fear keeps me from doing a lot of things. Fear makes me realize my limitations, my ignorance, and all my shortcomings and that there are so many. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells me that these feelings are not from God. Instead, God gives me a spirit of power, a spirit of love and a spirit of discipline. From Romans 8:15 I learn that fear leads to slavery and bondage. Paul wrote, “You didn’t receive a spirit of slavery to lead you back again into fear, but you received a Spirit that shows you are adopted as His children. With this Spirit, we cry, Abba, Father.” As a child of God my Father wants me to live in freedom knowing He has given me strength and power to overcome my fears.

“Say to those who are panicking: Be strong! Don’t fear! Here’s your God, coming with vengeance; with divine retribution God will come to save you” (Isaiah 35:4) “Don’t fear, because I am with you; don’t be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will surely help you; I will hold you with my righteous strong hand.” (Isaiah 41:10) “I am the LORD your God, who grasps your strong hand, who says to you, Don’t fear; I will help you.”(Isaiah 41:13)

So, I am empowered because “God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart, when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea, when its waters roar and rage, when the mountains shake because of its surging waves.” (Psalms 46:1-3) No matter that my life may feel at times that it is crumbling around me, God wants me to stand strong. Even though I feel that I am overwhelmed and that I am drowning, God has His hand out to grasp me and to keep me from going under. So I should not trust my “feelings”. I should not be afraid. This is a discipline that God wants me to learn. He says these words throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament. It is a message that He has repeated over and over again. He says to all of us “Do Not Be Afraid”.

Lord, I know that the spirit of fear is not from you. Help me to use the spirits of power and discipline to stand strong in times of trial. Amen.

Smarter than me

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Thomas asked, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going. How can we know the way?” ~John 14:5 (CEB)

I have this neat function in my map app on my phone. It is called “Navigation”. I discovered this neat little application a few years ago when I was lost in a big city stuck on a one-way street going the wrong direction. Literally. By my own knowledge, there was no way to turn around and go back the way I had just come. In my desperation, I clicked on the map on my phone to use its GPS. I knew my phone was smarter than me. It was my hope that by using my phone I would be able to figure out the answers that I needed to get me going in the right direction. While pulling up the map I accidentally clicked on the “navigation” button. I discovered this function did more than just give me a map allowing me to see where I was at that exact moment. If I typed in the address of where I wanted to go the application would take me turn by turn from where I was to where I needed to be. By accepting my inabilities and searching for where I knew I could find the answers I was soon back on track. I not only made it to where I needed to be, I made it back home too.

This phone had been in my possession for a year. All along the phone had this application, but until I actually tried to figure out what it could do it was no good to me. No matter how smart my phone might be it is only as smart as its user. The Holy Spirit is like that. I have the Holy Spirit deep within me. If I don’t know how to utilize its capabilities I can find myself lost not knowing where I am going or how to get back to God when I have found myself a little turned around.

The Holy Spirit helps me to navigate through life (Psalm 143:10). I can rely on the Holy Spirit to give me speech when I don’t know what to say (Mark 13:11) and speak with confidence (Acts 4:31). I can rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me in my decisions (Acts 6:2-6). The Holy Spirit will give me encouragement (Acts 9:31) and fills me with happiness (Acts 13:52). The Holy Spirit will give me hope (Romans 15:13). Through the Holy Spirit I will be made holy and acceptable (Romans 15:16). I am washed clean and made right by the Holy Spirit (1 Colossians 6:11). These are all truths that exist whether I use them or not. With the Holy Spirit, I am so much more than I am on my own. Reading my Bible gives me instruction on how to use the Holy Spirit to keep from getting too far off track.

Heavenly God, guide me with Your Holy Spirit through this day. May I utilize all its capabilities so that I may be smarter than I am on my own. Amen.

Acceptance

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After looking at the way things are on this earth, here’s what I’ve decided is the best way to live: Take care of yourself, have a good time, and make the most of whatever job you have for as long as God gives you life. And that’s about it. That’s the human lot. Yes, we should make the most of what God gives, both the bounty and the capacity to enjoy it, accepting what’s given and delighting in the work. It’s God’s gift! God deals out joy in the present, the now. It’s useless to brood over how long we might live. ~Ecc. 5:18-20 (MSG)

“If I am not at home with myself I won’t feel at home anywhere else. It is such a delight to come home to myself, to become my own friend. I experienced this kind of homecoming once when I was living alone. Under the guise of ministering to others I had become alienated from myself. In my everyday maddening ministerial rush I suddenly discovered myself eating on the run- grabbing a sandwich and eating it while standing up or going out to the door. The violence of this great irreverence to myself suddenly occurred to me. I was not at home with myself. It took a while to slow down, but I was finally able to make a decision to spend time with myself. I began to experience the joy of being with me. I put a flower on the table, lit a candle, turned on soft music, ate slowly. I learned the joy of simply being with myself without rushing. It was like taking myself out to dinner. It was a kind of coming home to myself. When you can lovingly be present to yourself, your presence to others takes on a deeper quality also.” ~From A Tree Full of Angels by Macrina Wiederkehr

Heavenly Father, help me to slow down today. Help me to take care of myself, to take time to laugh and to do my best whatever task I may be about. Help me this day to make the most of what You give me and the ability to fully enjoy it. Amen.

Enslaved

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Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Romas 12:2 (ESV)

“The action of those whose lives are given to the Spirit has in it something of the leisure of Eternity; and because of this, they achieve far more than those whose lives are enslaved by the rush and hurry, the unceasing tick-tick of the world. In the spiritual life it is very important to get our timing right. Otherwise we tend to forget the God, Who is greater than our heart, is greater than our job too. It is only when we have learnt all that this means that we possess the key to the Kingdom of Heaven.” ~From The Spiritual Life by Evelyn Underhill

Almighty God, sometimes I get so busy with the things that need to get done that I forget what is most important in life. You. You are bigger than all my worries, You are bigger than all my troubles. You know my heart. Guide me in the direction that I need to go this day to connect more fully with You. Amen.

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