In the silence of the day

But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you. ~Matt 6:6(CEB)

“Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and a place for God, and him alone. If we really believe not only that God exists but also that he is actively present in our lives- healing, teaching, and guiding- we need to set aside a time and space to give him our undivided attention. Jesus says, ‘Go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is that secret place’ “~From Making All Things New by Henri J. M. Nouwen

What a difference I find in my day when I take the time to be with God. All things seem to line up better, even the bad moments. Keeping my times with God reminds me that I am not alone as I go through the life. Though others may seem to forsake me, quiet time with God helps to ease the rough edges this life seems to bring.

Heavenly Father, may I remember to not run from the silences filling them with noise and activity. Help me to center myself in the quiet so that in the silences of the day, I can feel Your Presence in me. 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.

Inner silence

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 these couple of weeks where I don’t feel so overly busy. Then Thanksgiving hits and I find myself 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.

 

Stop and remember

Jesus’ disciples had forgotten to bring any bread, so they had only one loaf with them in the boat. He gave them strict orders: “ Watch out and be on your guard for the yeast of the Pharisees as well as the yeast of Herod.” The disciples discussed this among themselves, “He said this because we have no bread.” Jesus knew what they were discussing and said, “ Why are you talking about the fact that you don’t have any bread? Don’t you grasp what has happened? Don’t you understand? Are your hearts so resistant to what God is doing? Don’t you have eyes? Why can’t you see? Don’t you have ears? Why can’t you hear? Don’t you remember? When I broke five loaves of bread for those five thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”
They answered, “Twelve.” “ And when I broke seven loaves of bread for those four thousand people, how many baskets full of leftovers did you gather?”
They answered, “Seven.” Jesus said to them, “ And you still don’t understand?”
~ Mark 8:14-21 (CEB)

Sometimes I forget to stop and remember. I forget to slow down and understand. I forget to grasp the meaning that Jesus has for me. I forget to see. My eyes are not on Him.

When I don’t hold on to the truths that Jesus has shared with us I find anxiety and a restless heart robbing me of the peace that is promised when I place my trust in God. I stand there wondering why I am anxious… oh, I forgot to trust God again.

Life sometimes is too full. It holds so many opportunities with activities and distractions. When I find myself so busy is it any wonder that I grow anxious and lose my sense of peace and tranquility?

Heavenly Father, today I choose to remember that You alone are able to care for all that exists; I can trust my all from the smallest concern to the largest. Today I search out Your wisdom and love. I know that when I place my trust in You the gifts of peace, hope, calm and joy will be mine in abundance. Amen.

A little padding

Trust in the LORD with all your heart; don’t rely on your own intelligence. Know him in all your paths, and he will keep your ways straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6 (CEB)

Oh, here we go, taking self out of the picture again. Trust in God, not me. Rely on His intelligence, not mine. But that isn’t all. The only self that should still be in the picture is in the form of self-control and self-discipline. These help establish boundaries and boundaries help us live a purposeful life that can side step most carelessness.

Knowing God’s word intimately helps me to understand and know what boundaries are important to keep my path through life straight and help keep getting lost down to a minimum. I also need to learn to give myself space on this path, margins that allow for a little weaving between the ditches of life.  When I work in needed space in my life, it is like padding for the bumps (stress) in the road that are bound to show up from time to time. If I do not work in extra space (time) into my schedule and have to swerve because of a bump, before I know what happens I end up in a ditch!

For me sometimes “padding” means not being so hard on myself when life happens. Those things that are out of my control are going to happen and I just need to roll with those bumps, shake myself off and stick to the path God has laid out for me. “Padding” also means for me trust in God to see me through all situations. From my children’s welfare, to the roof on my house, I need to be assured that God has my back. Finally, “padding” comes in the form of reading God’s word so that I can know and understand what God’s path is for me.

Father in Heaven, I thank You for Your word where I can learn what boundaries are good for my life. Help me put Your word deep in my heart so that it will be well padded for all the bumps that life brings. Amen.

Solitude

Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. ~Mark 1:35 (CEB)

“Solitude is obviously intended to be far more than just being physically alone. It is the way we form a habit of retreat, creating a space and a time when God can speak to us. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have some place in your house that could become a place of retreat. Some people have a favorite walk that becomes a ‘prayer walk.’ Every large city, despite the noise and crowds, has places of great solitude and peace. Often city center churches are examples of this. What is certain is that if we create a place where we can regularly turn to God, [God] will meet us there. There, as Amma Syncletica said, ‘it is possible to be a solitary in one’s mind while living in a crowd.’ Time spent with God in solitude will always bring a harvest. The problems we have outside the solitude will seem different when we return to them refreshed and strengthened. The surer sense of our relationship with Christ that solitude brings spills over into everything else we do. When Moses came down from his solitude on Mount Sinai, his face shone (Exod. 34:29-35). For you, too, solitude can be a place of transfiguration, a meeting place with the living God.” ~From The Interior Mountain by Simon Peter Iredale

Come away with me O Lord, to a quiet place where I may hear your voice as it whispers to me. May the solitude I seek in this moment give me the strength needed for this day. May my face shine from being in Your Presence. Help me remember throughout the rest of this day to stop and listen for Your voice so that I may know more clearly the way to go. Amen.

Clinging to Truths

Many people were coming and going, so there was no time to eat. He said to the apostles, “Come by yourselves to a secluded place and rest for a while.” They departed in a boat by themselves for a deserted place. ~Mark 6:31-32 (CEB)

When we enter into solitude to be with God alone, we quickly discover how dependent we are.  Without the many distractions of our daily lives, we feel anxious and tense.  When nobody speaks to us, calls on us, or needs our help, we start feeling like nobodies.  Then we begin wondering whether we are useful, valuable, and significant.  Our tendency is to leave this fearful solitude quickly and get busy again to reassure ourselves that we are “somebodies.”  But that is a temptation, because what makes us somebodies is not other people’s responses to us but God’s eternal love for us.

To claim the truth of ourselves we have to cling to our God in solitude as to the One who makes us who we are. ~ From Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen

Heavenly Father, Help me this day to claim those truths You have for me. Help me to stand strong in the quiet times of life. Help me to feel Your assurance and love surround me. Amen.

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