In the silence

The fear of man lays a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is safe. ~Proverbs 29:25 (NIV)

Sometimes in my waiting I become anxious. Especially if during my time of waiting I feel that God is being silent. In the silence I still must trust that He is busy working all things to come together for my good. I forget that in His silence He can be doing some of His mightiest works. Fear of the silence only lays traps for my heart, stumbling blocks for my feet. Even in the silence my eyes should be trained on Him, trusting Him. In my trust I find comfort and the realization that despite my perception of things, I am safe in God’s hands.

Advent is that time of quiet expectancy for me. Outside can be dark, cold and bleary but I know that God is sending His Light to bring hope to the darkness. Light is coming to warm my heart. I shouldn’t be afraid of the darkness for it is just a time of preparation.

Prepare my heart O Lord, help me welcome the silence. Calm my anxious heart. I know that You are doing a might work and that because I place my trust in You I am safe. Help me to see reality and not my perception of the way things are. Give me strength to bear the silence knowing You have not abandoned me, just that You are busy working in those secret places of my heart, readying me for that Light You have promised. Amen.

Pay attention!

“You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its saltiness, how will it become salty again? It’s good for nothing except to be thrown away and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city on top of a hill can’t be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on top of a lampstand, and it shines on all who are in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before people, so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven. ~Matt 5:13-16 (CEB)

One of the dangers of waiting is forgetting to let my light shine while I wait. I have never been one to wait patiently. It almost paralyzes me. I have had several reminders in the past few days that I have been hiding my light. Reading this passage from Bread for the Journey was just another reminder that not only am I to be patient but active in my time of waiting:

“How do we wait for God?  We wait with patience.  But patience does not mean passivity.   Waiting patiently is not like waiting for the bus to come, the rain to stop, or the sun to rise.  It is an active waiting in which we live the present moment to the full in order to find there the signs of the One we are waiting for.

The word patience comes from the Latin verb patior which means “to suffer.”  Waiting patiently is suffering through the present moment, tasting it to the full, and letting the seeds that are sown in the ground on which we stand grow into strong plants.  Waiting patiently always means paying attention to what is happening right before our eyes and seeing there the first rays of God’s glorious coming.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen

Heavenly Father, help me to shine for You. May I continue to be active in my time of waiting, continually seeking the ways that I can serve You this day. May I pay attention to what is happening here in these moments and live them to the fullest. Amen.

Waiting

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten young bridesmaids who took their lamps and went out to meet the groom. Now five of them were wise, and the other five were foolish. The foolish ones took their lamps but didn’t bring oil for them. But the wise ones took their lamps and also brought containers of oil. “When the groom was late in coming, they all became drowsy and went to sleep. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Look, the groom! Come out to meet him.’ “Then all those bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. But the foolish bridesmaids said to the wise ones, ‘Give us some of your oil, because our lamps have gone out.’  “But the wise bridesmaids replied, ‘No, because if we share with you, there won’t be enough for our lamps and yours. We have a better idea. You go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were gone to buy oil, the groom came. Those who were ready went with him into the wedding. Then the door was shut. “Later the other bridesmaids came and said, ‘Lord, lord, open the door for us.’  “But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’  “Therefore keep alert because you don’t know the day or the hour. ~Matt 25:1-13 (CEB)

“Waiting is essential to the spiritual life.  But waiting as a disciple of Jesus is not an empty waiting.  It is a waiting with a promise in our hearts that makes already present what we are waiting for.  We wait during Advent for the birth of Jesus.  We wait after Easter for the coming of the Spirit, and after the ascension of Jesus we wait for his coming again in glory.  We are always waiting, but it is a waiting in the conviction that we have already seen God’s footsteps.

Waiting for God is an active, alert – yes, joyful – waiting.  As we wait we remember him for whom we are waiting, and as we remember him we create a community ready to welcome him when he comes.” ~From Bread for the Journey by Henri Nouwen.

In my time of waiting, I must still be prepared… looking for the time when circumstances will change. I must be working and preparing myself accepting the changes as the come; piece by piece, moment by moment… alert… finding the joy… active in this journey that God has sent me on.

Heavenly Father, help me to not become impatient in my time of waiting. Help me to feel Your Presence as You make my heart and mind ready. Keep me alert with the Hope You have hidden in my heart. Amen.

Change

I will give them a single heart, and I will put a new spirit in them. I will remove the stony hearts from their bodies and give them hearts of flesh so that they may follow my regulations and carefully observe my case laws. They will be my people, and I will be their God. ~Ezekiel 11:19-20 (CEB)

When my daughter was young she would worry ahead to things that were in the future. For instance she always worried about the time when she would be grown up and “have to live on her own.” She was nine at the time so I would tell her that she was supposed to want to live with me forever. That was where she was at that time in her life. I would also tell her that when it was time for her to live on her own God would have prepared her heart and she would be ready.

Today, I don’t think she remembers the conversations we had about her wanting to live with me forever and never leave me, but I do. I remember the conversations slowly changing from living with me forever… to buying the house next door where she could still be close by… to buying a farm when she grew up, naturally not next door since we live in a sub-division.

I like the book of Ezekiel because amidst the imagery found, I see God working on the hearts of his people. Among the promise of punishment for apostasy I see God preparing their hearts for their time of trial. Through the use of imagery God is showing His people that He is a mobile God not just found in the Temple but a God who can move anywhere in any direction. This was a new concept for the Israelites who felt that God lived and was to be found in His Temple. I also see that He was planting in their hearts even then the seeds that would one day help some of them accept Jesus as that promised Shepherd. That Shepherd who would gather them from among the scattered the nations and make them one nation again.

Change doesn’t come quickly. God must prepare our hearts, our minds and our circumstances for the change. God had promised that He would give the Israelites a new heart a heart of flesh with which they could live healthy and strong in His promises and be His children.

Sometimes in the waiting for my circumstances to change I forget that my heart and mind must be readied so that when new circumstances come I will be strengthened for the task. It is not that God has abandoned me in my trials, He is mending heart, mind and soul, those places unseen, so that I will be able to walk forward with my head held high into those Promises He has made me.

Heavenly Father, grant me patience for my circumstances, peace that although I don’t see changes happening that You are doing a good work on my heart mind and soul so that I may walk into Your Promises with the confidence of the daughter of a King. Amen.

A new day

The LORD your redeemer, the holy one of Israel, says, For your sake, I have sent an army to Babylon, and brought down all the bars, turning the Chaldeans’ singing into a lament. I am the LORD, your holy one, Israel’s creator, your king! The LORD says— who makes a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters, who brings out chariot and horse, army and battalion; they will lie down together and will not rise; they will be extinguished, extinguished like a wick. Don’t remember the prior things; don’t ponder ancient history. Look! I’m doing a new thing; now it sprouts up; don’t you recognize it? I’m making a way in the desert, paths in the wilderness. The beasts of the field, the jackals and ostriches, will honor me, because I have put water in the desert and streams in the wilderness to give water to my people, my chosen ones, this people whom I formed for myself, who will recount my praise. ~Isaiah 43:14-21 (CEB)

Every day we are given the chance to start anew. New beginnings are available all the time. There also is always the opportunity for a new beginning in our relationship with God. God is infinite so there is the unlimited possibility for growth and starting anew. No matter how intimate our relationship with Jesus Christ is there is always room for growth and new beginnings. The changes He is calling us to might be slight or it might be radical.

Heavenly Father, show me how You want me to grow this day, what new levels in our relationship are you stretching me to. Give me the strength and courage to rise up to the changes You are calling me to make today. Amen

A new heart

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you. I will remove your stony heart from your body and replace it with a living one, and I will give you my spirit so that you may walk according to my regulations and carefully observe my case laws. Ezk 36:26-27(CEB)

After reading yesterday in the Bible how deceitful we all are in our hearts, here is a ray of hope from Ezekiel 36. It tells me that God will give me a new heart! With this new heart I will be able to live the right life that I have tried so hard to do. The verses around these scriptures tell me though that I shall expect a lot of work. God will have to cleanse me of my old ways before I can enter His promises. What is my reward for all the hard work that lies ahead? Then you will live in the land that I gave to your ancestors, you will be my people, and I will be your God…The LORD God proclaims: On the day that I cleanse you of all your guilt, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be farmed, and it won’t be like it was when it seemed a wasteland to all who passed by. They will say, “This land, which was a desolation, has become like the garden of Eden.” And the cities that were ruined, ravaged, and razed are now fortified and inhabited. ( 36:28, 33-35)

When I have tried to live life right on my own, it crumbles around me. But God will take the ruins I have created and help me build again. He will plant and water my new life and soon a garden will grow.

Take this heart of mine Lord, shape it and breathe new life into it. Remove all the shards of my self-living, create in me a new heart that beats for You. Amen.

Testing

The most cunning heart— it’s beyond help. Who can figure it out?  I, the LORD, probe the heart and discern hidden motives, to give everyone what they deserve, the consequences of their deeds. ~Jer. 17:9-10 (CEB)

The commentary in my Bible says that these verses are the strongest statement made anywhere in the Bible about the deception and sinfulness of the human heart made be the Lord.

It is hard for us to really know or understand this, but God does. He searches and tests what is in our hearts, and God knows them to be full of selfishness and injustice. It saddens me to think of myself in this way especially when I think how hard I try every day to live right. The good news is that God knows what is in my heart. And He loves me anyway! He also is willing to get down in the trenches and work with me to be more than I am. I don’t want to be deceptive and sinful. May I embrace the Psalmists words in 139:22-23, Examine me, God! Look at my heart! Put me to the test! Know my anxious thoughts! Look to see if there is any idolatrous way in me, then lead me on the eternal path!

Test my heart oh, Lord! Put me to the test! If there be any deception or sinfulness please bring them to my attention so that I may line my will with Yours. Amen.

Ever mindful

We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. ~Romans 8:28 (CEB)

“The more healing I experience, the more I understand one of the most magnificent truths of the Christian faith: God can turn our worst pain into the source of our giftedness.” ~From Ashes Transformed by Tilda Norberg

A little hope for this Saturday morning as we near the end of “Ordinary time” and begin to anticipate Christmas time. I sometimes need reminding that God takes my pain and loss and can use it for good if only I will let Him. In my restlessness, I need the reminder today that He is working in my life even when I do not presently see any evidence. The Holidays ahead are such a mixed time of blessing and sorrow, of things to look forward to or people to miss. As I anticipate gathering with family and friends in a couple of weeks  and  the celebrations of all that lies ahead may I ever remember to be present in the moment.

As we move closer and closer to the season of Thanksgiving and onto the Celebrations of Christ’s birth, may I ever be mindful of all You have done in my life O Lord. Amen.

De-cluttering

“Happy are people who are hungry and thirsty for righteousness, because they will be fed until they are full. ~Matthew 5:6 (CEB)

Most of my conflicts and difficulties come from trying to keep my spiritual and practical aspects of my life separate instead of realizing that they are part of one whole. If I practice a life that is centered on my own interests that are cluttered up by possessions, distractions of ambitions, passions of wants, worries, beset by a sense of my own rights and importance, anxiety for the future, or longing for success, I can not expect my spiritual life will be any different.

When I am anchored in God, then my spiritual life become simply a life where all I do comes from that relationship. Life becomes soaked through by a sense of this great movement of His will and soon I find my life has more order and less worries.

Center me this day Lord, not on self-importance or self-ambitions but on You. Amen.

Searching, again

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff— they comfort me. ~Psalm 23:4 (NRSV)

There are days I feel adrift from God. Sometimes it may be a result of my trusting in self again. It isn’t that God has moved, I have moved away from Him. Other times He has moved and I need to seek after Him. Again. Gary Moon in his Book Falling for God says it this way:

“All believers who want to become an apprentice of Christ and not just his admirer will find themselves in the blank space between the verses in Psalm 23. Because he loves us so much, the Shepherd moves on. We look around and wonder where he has gone. We feel alone, abandoned. We call out. Nothing. The voice that used to call our name is silent and does not respond when we call. He is gone. He has moved farther down the road that leads home. During the dark night experience our job is to seek God and to go to him again. When we do, we realize we are not the same person. Our relationship with him is not the same. We [too] have moved. We are closer to home and closer to union.” ~From Falling for God by Gary Moon

So whether my rough spot is due to me moving toward idols (Self-reliance) or God moving me on down the path to greater maturity, my job, your job, remains the same. We say, “Here I am, Lord, helpless without you.”

Heavenly Father, help me to seek You in all I do this day. May I ever grow more into who You see me to be. Amen.

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