Thursday, 28 January 2016

noon prayer :: beyond counting blessings

The day is at its peak, but I'm lagging in the valley. It's an effort to look up, to engage my mind in blessing counting of any kind, and yet I know this arithmetic will figure the day either for better or worse.

Sun glinting on steadfast river
(Glitter and paper bits ground into the floor)
A stack of library books eagerly devoured
(A stack of housework waiting to devour me)
Cheerful chatter of imaginary play
(Marbles, marbles rolling everywhere)

But these are not to be given equal weight. The equation doesn't work that way. I am missing something in the formula. There is a Sum greater than these parts.

The Source of all beauty
The Counselor of infinite wisdom
The Father who delights in His children

The gentle God of lowly heart who says,

Rest is received in yoking with me. Let us join our labours and ascend the hill together. Do not grow weary in doing good, for all of this counts. Keep in step, and I will order your day. I will make the fragments add up in the end. Come to me. Come with me. 

Oh, I am too tired for mathematics, but here is an outcome I can rely on. Beyond counting blessings to counting on Him.


Sunday, 24 January 2016

The Rhythm of Sunday

Sunday - the first day of the week.

The seven-fold rhythm, set from the beginning, now begins with a resurrection, with worship, and rest.

His finished work becomes our new beginning. Out of worship and rest we rise to meet the week and its work.

All our work - bracketed by His.
All our work - energized by rest.
All our work - a movement bound by celebration as its beginning and end.

No matter the tune the week sets before us, we know the reprise. His chorus will break forth again, and we will hear Him singing over us, singing the song that makes all our days holy.

Without this beginning, we are out of tune, out of step, and the days pile up like bricks of slavery, the nights rise as bars of iron.

Oh, that we would learn to measure our days with His time signature!

Feel the pause, and then the swell of a glorious ascending glissando.

Get in here, at the first movement, and His music will carry you through the rest. This is the invitation to redefine your week according to His rhythm.


Friday, 22 January 2016

The Blessed Thorn

Where would I be without this thorn in my flesh?

Resting on plastic laurels of pride and vainglory.

This thorn - it keeps me near His crown. It pricks me to my knees, where my heart learns humility, to the ground of a tear soaked garden.

Without this thorn - whither the rose? Whither the scarlet hue and scent of beauty? Whither the unfolding of life, rising from dark and secret places? Whither the bloom of rooted victory?

This thorn - it keeps me real. It keeps me wrestling. It keeps me desperate for the blessing that comes to those who persevere in His presence.

Without this thorn - where would strength break through my shell?

This thorn - through its piercing the whispers come: My grace is sufficient for thee. My power is made perfect in weakness. 

I will not despise this wound, for through it the lifeblood flows.

Without this thorn, oh whither the rose?


Wednesday, 20 January 2016

morning prayer :: for a groggy day

I lift my eyes to the Ebenezer hills, thankful for small mercies after a sleepless night. The sun is here to warm and cheer, and I give my tired praise, even as I prepare another sick bed for the day. At least there is some calm, at least there is some coffee, at least there are home comforts for the least of these.

I pause to look out joy - I will need its strength today. This but a little trial labour, to see how joy may progress through contraction.

But the One who needs no slumber will lend his arm to the weak, and will give his rest to the heavy-laden eyes. Right here, between the river and Ebenezer, my Help will come.


Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Strike-anywhere love

On cold days, remember,

Love is a strike-anywhere match. 

Even the irritation of this day is friction for the fire. When life rubs rough, bring your kindling and pray for the the crimson tip of powder to explode. Either be frost-bitten raw, or be lit, and thaw. Some days love is purely a matter of survival. Light up, or freeze out. Light up, or die.

This is the miracle: that in consummation lies salvation. You will surely splinter but love will leap into flame and spread molten life into the numbness of your winter. Love will revive.

So bring your burnt out ends. Bring your soggy offering. Bring your stone cold heart. Bring your dying embers. Bring your last bit of hope and throw yourself against the flint. You will ignite.

And maybe someone else's survival depends on you today. Maybe they've used their last desperate flare, and are simply waiting for rescue before the dark falls. Maybe your torch will light their eyes, and bring warmth to weary bones.

Maybe yours will spark the night on fire, till every signal hill burns and blazes the way to the great lighted city.

One match is all it takes. Anywhere, anywhere. Doesn't matter if it's your last. There's an eternal flame that outlasts the cold, outshines the night, and overcomes the darkness. This is strike-anywhere love. Light up, and live.


Monday, 4 January 2016

When you need a break in the clouds

This afternoon, the winter clouds are thick and heavy with snow. Oh there is wonder in the whiteness of it all, but sometimes I just need a little break. This moment, this is the time to anchor. To make myself present before Him until I feel the warmth of His countenance shining on me like the afternoon sun.

One of R. A. Torrey's "secrets" to prayer is this:

"In order that a prayer should be really unto God, there must be a definite and conscious approach to God when we pray; we must have a definite and vivid realization that God is bending over us and listening as we pray."*

Before the words come tumbling out - this waiting. It may be only a few brief seconds, or it may take a few minutes to untangle our minds till they are set above. In this waiting we are led by the Holy Spirit into a conscious experience of God's presence. He gives us the beautiful vision of a God bent near, and this is the best beginning to prayer. Sometimes, it is prayer itself, beginning to end. Simply His countenance, set toward us.

Sometimes beholding beauty is enough. A wordless confidence passes between us, burdens are lifted, rest is released. I am blessed, kept, graced, and given peace. All this from His face.

This break in the clouds - this is the best sort of afternoon break, and the light I carry into the rest of the day.


* R. A. Torrey, How to Pray (Toronto: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1900), 32-33.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The Shape of My Hunger

There are so many ways to approach a new year. Mine has already begun with hunger. I'm no stranger to cravings these days. (Another life growing inside has its own needs.) I could make a long list, I'm sure, of the things I need, the things I want in 2016. But I do better with less to remember, and when I boil it all down, this is the shape of my hunger this year:

Pursue joy

Practice the presence of God

Put on a habit of prayer

It's nothing new for me. It's all been a work in progress, but I want to make sure it remains a work in focus. When life gets overwhelming, distracting, and discouraging, this is what I need to come back to. Instead of getting "hangry," I need to recognize the hunger behind the growl. I need to come back to the table already set with the living bread broken. I need the cryptic promise of John 4:32. I need what only He can give.


Saturday, 2 January 2016

Welcome for a New Year

Welcome 2016!

I greet you with joy in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!

I welcome the rising sun, the splendour of day, and the snowy path laid out before me. I welcome the footsteps of the Good King, knowing He is going on before and I have only to tread where He has trod.

I welcome the worship and work of each new day, petitioning the King for strength and joy to pursue His way.

I welcome the ones He has given me, to whom I belong and to whom I am committed, petitioning for grace and compassion to walk humbly and single-heartedly with them in our frailties.

I welcome the hope of morning, the promise of rest, and the surety of His perfect faithfulness, petitioning for eyes to remain fixed on the One whose goodness calls me forward.

I welcome the wideness of open skies, the wonder of unfolding day, and the wildness of holy mountains.

I welcome joy, no matter how it comes to greet me.

I welcome this day, this year, my place in it, and my God over it.


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