This is love.

I was trying to imagine what love in faith looks like.

After a while, I realized that I recognized that love when someone comes and spends time with me in His Word. It is the quiet reassurance in this process when I learn and know that they are immersed in and living by His Word. And as they speak, they speak not out of their own heart and wits (even if it was out of love for me), but they speak out of the fullness of Your Word, and they are interested not only in my physical but also my spiritual well-being.

open bible
A picture of love.

And so, I recognize love when someone comes to sit with me with a Bible opened, ready to spend time together in His Word. Ready and patient to answer questions, not afraid of not having the answers, because we know He has them and will give it to us in time.

This morning, we were asked think, on the day of our funeral, what would we hope that those in attendance would say about us?

After a while, I realized it is still this:
That she loved God, and she loved us. 

And Father, will you remind me that even as I write now, this is for You.
If anyone and anything should be won, let it be for You and to You, and not to myself.
The Puritans have written about my heart better than I…
And I repeat that which resonates with my heart:

——-

O LOVER OF THE LOVELESS,

It is thy will that I should love thee
with heart, soul, mind, strength,
and my neighbour as myself.

But I am not sufficient for these things.
There is by nature no pure love in my soul;
Every affection in me is turned from thee;
I am bound, as slave to lust,
I cannot love thee, lovely as thou art,
until thou dost set me free.

By grace I am thy freeman and would serve thee,
for I believe thou art my God in Jesus,
and that through him I am redeemed,
and my sins are forgiven.

With this freedom I would always obey thee,
but I cannot walk in liberty,
any more than I could first attain it, of myself.
May thy Spirit draw me nearer to thee
and thy ways.

Thou art the end of all means,
  for if they lead me not to thee,
  I go away empty.

Order all my ways by thy holy Word
  and make thy commandments the joy
    of my heart,
  that by them I may have happy converse
    with thee.
May I grow in thy love and manifest it
  to mankind.

Spirit of love, make me like the loving Jesus;
give me his benevolent temper,
his beneficent actions,
that I may shine before men to thy glory.

The more thou doest in love in me and by me,
  humble me the more;
  keep me meek, lowly,
  and always ready to give thee honour.

— Christian Love, The Valley of Vision

 

 

Thou hast given me silence in my heart
in place of murmurings and complaints.

Keep my wishes from growing into willings,
  my willings from becoming fault-finding
    with thy providences,
  and have mercy on me.

If I sin and am rebellious, help me to repent;
then take away my mourning and give me music;
remove my sackcloth and adorn me with beauty;
 take away my sighs and fill my mouth with songs;
and when I am restored and rest in thee
give me summer weather in my heart.
— Repose, The Valley of Vision

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Even.

You’ve never let me forget this.
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And even now, you make me exclaim,

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence?
 If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there!
If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me.”
(Psalm 139:7-10)

 

Here are some notes in a song that spoke truth and comfort to me recently:

On the nights when the dark last a little bit longer
When the wind and the storm is a little bit stronger
When the fear in my heart dips a little bit deeper
When my faith to stand gets a little bit weaker

Where could I run to?
Where could I go?

Even when it feels like my world is shaken
Even when I’ve had all that I can take
I know
You never let me go…

When the days up ahead look a little bit brighter
But the grip of the past holds a little bit tighter
I’m reminded Your grace never asks for perfection
Oh I’m restored ’cause I’m Yours and I stand forgiven…

And even in the middle of a struggle
And even when it’s hard to remember
You alone are my defense when
I’m standing on Your promises

 

Some days, joy feels as elusive as it did when I first started.
Some days, I feel like a walk in uncertainty, listening, watching, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Though that ‘shoe’ is almost sure to drop…
I know that Your good is even surer.

But Father, make me not only to know.
Let me live this truth, in the goodness of Your will, according to Your purposes.

And as I see Your hand at work, let me know more of Your heart.

 

And Father, heal mine.

Unsettled

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This nothing profound… It is simply a collection of the fragments of the mind, spurred on by a season that promise meaning to those who abide by its laws.

But the thought of home and stability are often the very things that make me unsettled.
(Or, if we’re honest, was it this morning’s reminder of what today was…?)

Yet storms end, and that which will be gone will go, and that which is meant to stay will remain… But until then, somewhere ‘safe’ to keep unsettled (and unsettling) thoughts.

“Part of the problem with the word ‘disabilities’ is that it immediately suggests an inability to see or hear or walk or do other things that many of us take for granted. But what of people who can’t feel? Or talk about their feelings? Or manage their feelings in constructive ways? What of people who aren’t able to form close and strong relationships? And people who cannot find fulfillment in their lives, or those who have lost hope, who live in disappointment and bitterness and find in life no joy, no love? These, it seems to me, are the real disabilities.”  
― Fred Rogers, The World According to Mister Rogers: Important Things to Remember

 

“Is it really possible to tell someone else what one feels?”
― Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“It is a grave injustice to a child or adult to insist that they stop crying. One can comfort a person who is crying which enables him to relax and makes further crying unnecessary; but to humiliate a crying child is to increase his pain, and augment his rigidity. We stop other people from crying because we cannot stand the sounds and movements of their bodies. It threatens our own rigidity. It induces similar feelings in ourselves which we dare not express and it evokes a resonance in our own bodies which we resist.”
― Alexander Lowen, The Voice of the Body

“We experience ourselves our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us.” ― Albert Einstein

“To hear never-heard sounds, 
To see never-seen colors and shapes, 
To try to understand the imperceptible 
Power pervading the world; 
To fly and find pure ethereal substances 
That are not of matter 
But of that invisible soul pervading reality. 
To hear another soul and to whisper to another soul; 
To be a lantern in the darkness 
Or an umbrella in a stormy day; 
To feel much more than know. 
To be the eyes of an eagle, slope of a mountain; 
To be a wave understanding the influence of the moon; 
To be a tree and read the memory of the leaves; 
To be an insignificant pedestrian on the streets 
Of crazy cities watching, watching, and watching. 
To be a smile on the face of a woman 
And shine in her memory 
As a moment saved without planning.” 
― Dejan Stojanovic

 

That was it:
A moment saved without planning.
A collection of moments.
Memories kept when the bodies which once housed them have moved on.
You’ve once asked why I liked to think deeply.
(I found your question strange, and didn’t answer.)
I didn’t know then. I think I know now…
To think, for me, is to breathe.
The deeper I think, the more alive I feel.
And if I should stop thinking, I think I may drown.

Defeat

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(There is a loss that feels much like defeat: The loss of control over what we had deemed our own, the relinquishment of the throne and reign over our own lives. Neither submission, nor obedience are easy words on this vocabulary.  Yet wise friends have whispered, “This loss is gain…” And there, may I find Your voice. Until the day, I see it just so…)

“My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline,

    and do not resent his rebuke,
 because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
    as a father the son he delights in. 

 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
    those who gain understanding,
 for she is more profitable than silver
    and yields better returns than gold.

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
    by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the watery depths were divided,
    and the clouds let drop the dew.

 My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
    preserve sound judgment and discretion;
 they will be life for you,
    an ornament to grace your neck.
 Then you will go on your way in safety,
    and your foot will not stumble.
When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
    when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.”

(Proverbs 3: 11-14, 19-24)

 

 

 

Still my soul be still
Do not be moved
By lesser lights and fleeting shadows
Hold onto His ways

(What can I say? I still don’t understand it.
But it is so.
Give me faith to obey in the face of unchanging circumstance.
Melt the ice of this wild soul.)

 

For Tomorrow

“Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known…

 

We go to all the world
With kingdom hope unfurled
No other name has power to save
But Jesus Christ The Lord

O Father who sustained them
O Spirit who inspired
Saviour
, whose love constrained them

To toil with zeal untired
From cowardice defend us
From lethargy awake!
Forth on Thine errands send us
To labour for Thy sake.

Prayers and Arrows

“In archery we have something like the way of the superior man. When the archer misses the center of the target, he turns around and seeks for the cause of his failure in himself.”
Confucius

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Over the past few months, I have been reflecting on the psalms. A piece of writing from Charles Spurgeon was shared with me, and it has changed the attitude with which I pray. I had prayed so aimlessly, so inconsistently, that I forget to look at where I had aimed and shot. I hadn’t looked at where the arrow would land, that I should adjust my aim for the next shot… My prayers have been so powerless, when God has promised power to the man of prayer.

I’ll post the section below, to share, and also as a reference and reminder to myself.

“There are some people who pray, as it were, like a man shooting at a whole regiment—they fire anything, at anything! But the man who wins his suit at the Throne of Grace is the man who prays distinctly for some one thing that he wills to have.

He says, “That is what I need, and that is what I am going to have if it is to be had.”
And he prays for that one thing just as an archer aims at the center of the target and then deliberately draws the bowstring and lets the arrow fly so that it sticks in the gold. David said, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto You“—like an arrow—“and will look up,” to see which way it goes.

A great deal of praying is like runaway knocks at a door, but the right sort of praying knocks at the door and waits till it is opened!

…David was never restored to the favor of God until, in confessing his sin, he learned to call a spade a spade! He had robbed poor Uriah of his wife and then he had so managed matters that Uriah had been killed in battle! And David used, no doubt, to say to others, “It was a very lamentable accident.” But he never had any piece of mind while that guile, that cunning, that craft, was in his heart—it was only when he fell down upon his face before the Lord and cried, “Deliver me from blood-guiltiness, O God,” that God could rightly deal with his sin!

… When you are willing to confess your sin to the Lord, Himself, and say to Him, “Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight,” then it is that you shall get the blessing! You must be definite in the confession of your sin.

You must also be definite in pleading the promises of God. There is no prayer like that which a man presents when he gets a grip of a Divine promise! For instance, this utterance of the Lord Jesus Christ, Himself—”All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men.” Open your Bible at Matthew 12:31. Put your finger on that passage and say, “Lord, this is Your Word; fulfill it to me!” Plead definitely with God His own promise and say to Him, “Do as You have said.” This is the kind of praying that never yet met with a repulse! Answers of peace shall surely come to those who have become thus definite in their prayers!

If you would succeed in prayer, you must be bold! You must lay aside your modesty. If you had to ask of Christ only what you deserve, it would not take you long, for you deserve nothing but His wrath. Therefore, do not begin to ask on the ground of merit and, inasmuch as you deserve nothing, yet need everything, go in and be a bold beggar! Say, “Lord, save me tonight.” Yes, put it, “tonight!” “Lord, save me, perfectly.” Yes, put it, “perfectly!” “Lord, give me a new heart and a right spirit.” Do not ask the Lord to clean up the old one—pray for a new one right out! “Lord, make a saint of me.” That is right, do not ask the Lord to make a whitewashed sinner of you! Pray, “Lord, make me Your child.” Do not say, “Make me as one of Your hired servants,” but say, “Take me into Your family. Let me be Your child!” Make a bold prayer of it.

I feel upon me a conviction that there are some who will come and put their trust in Jesus now. Lie down at His feet. Say, “I never will leave except You bless me.” This is God’s own message—”Look unto Me, and be you saved, all you ends of the earth.” Some of you have been hearing me a very long time. I love to look at your faces but when I see you, I always pray that you may be saved. I say to myself, “When will God bring that good man in? His wife and many friends pray for him. When will he be decided?” I look upon another and I say, “When will that elderly woman be converted? She has children who pray for her.” I look elsewhere—no, I will not look exactly that way, but you know, my Friend, whom I mean when I say, “When will that brother be brought in? He has a praying wife, yet he is not saved.” I cannot understand some of you husbands. I suppose that there are many more men than women in this congregation—there are often five men to three women in the congregation—yet when they come to join the Church, the women are probably three times as many as the men! I am half afraid it is as much as that, certainly two to one of those who really give their hearts to Christ. How do you make this out? Some of you husbands come here as regularly as your wives come, yet you do not know the Savior, and they do! Are you going to be parted forever? Are you going to die in your sins? Oh, let it not be so! Lord God, convert them by Your Grace, convert them now! Let us pray that it may be so, for Christ’s sake! Amen.

— C. Spurgeon

 

I cannot feel Your love so strong and still
From where I’ve hidden
I cannot hear Your voice above my will
But still You listen
I’m looking out beyond this great unknown
Though I can’t see it
I am standing on the great frontiers
Of Your love, of Your love
You have overcome my deepest fears
With Your love
Lead me to the end of myself
Take me to the edge of something greater