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

fem

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
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Seed to Sequoia (Thanksgiving)

tall trees
Thank You, Father. For the lessons which remind me of Your greatness, and my finiteness. 
“…Oh how nature acquaints us
With the nature of patience
Like a seed in the snow
I’ve been buried to grow
For Your promise is loyal
From seed to sequoia

You’re the God of seasons
I’m just in the winter
If all I know of harvest
Is that it’s worth my patience
Then if You’re not done working
God I’m not done waiting

Lord I think of Your love
Like the low winter sun
I’m renewed in Your warmth
Melt the ice of this wild soul
Till the barren is beautiful

 

Cones-and-seed-of-the-Sequoiadendron-giganteum
And the reminder that You are still working and refining.
For all I know of seasons
Is that You take Your time
You could have saved us in a second
Instead You sent a child…”

 

(You came in love and humility.
Thank You for teaching me my need for the same tonight.)

Seasons

not force

This season feels long.
But if You’ll have me here, then teach me to harvest — to glean all there is that I need to glean here.

Your Word carries weight.
Let me know them in the richness and fullness of them.
That they be a burden only in the sense of their importance; may they never become onerous to me.
If I should tell of them, let the weight of Your truths be felt, and do not let me add on the weight of pretense for the sake of the audience.

Teach me who I am, without the audience.
You see who am before You.
Teach me to know who I am before You, and who You make me to be.

And all I know is that I still don’t know a lot
I don’t know how it ends I’m in the middle of this plot
Yeah and I found grace for the man that I am not
Yeah, I found out the day I lost myself…
The day I lost myself was the day that I found God

 

Reconciliation

You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. | James 4:2-3

do you cross
Why did you ask for direction?

 

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. | John 12:24-26

 

You keep Your promises.
I might not see it yet, but You keep Your promises.

You’ve asked Me for direction.
What was it for?
Who was it for?
Before You seek an answer, do you seek Me?
Do you rest it your trust in Me?

LORD, You know.
I believe. Help my unbelief.

Then for continued refinement.
Testing to higher ground.
Because You always lead us to the best place, the place we need to be.

History

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Memories of days past, present, and future.

Hear my prayer, O Lord,
Give ear to my supplications!
In Your faithfulness answer me,
And in Your righteousness.
Do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no one living is righteous.

For the enemy has persecuted my soul;
He has crushed my life to the ground;
He has made me dwell in darkness,
Like those who have long been dead.
Therefore my spirit is overwhelmed within me;
My heart within me is distressed.

I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all Your works;
I muse on the work of Your hands.
I spread out my hands to You;
My soul longs for You like a thirsty land. Selah

Answer me speedily, O Lord;
My spirit fails!
Do not hide Your face from me,
Lest I be like those who go down into the pit.
Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning,
For in You do I trust;
Cause me to know the way in which I should walk,
For I lift up my soul to You.

Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies;
In You I take shelter.
10 Teach me to do Your will,
For You are my God;
Your Spirit is good.
Lead me in the land of uprightness.

11 Revive me, O Lord, for Your name’s sake!
For Your righteousness’ sake bring my soul out of trouble.
12 In Your mercy cut off my enemies,
And destroy all those who afflict my soul;
For I am Your servant. | Psalm 143

 

The story is not mine to tell.
(That, I know well.)
For you live it, and I learn.
What ails you? And is silence the medicine?

I, too, recall the days of old.
Long nights of theory and cases.
Of truths explained, and joy, and peace.
Did we not ask for refinement of gold?
Did we not tremble, thinking of the purification from dross?
And now, your trial, that we may see what is truly in the heart.
(Did we not long for application?
Said I, in the comfort of the land of theories.
Forgive my folly and rash words.)

What happens next?
You will grow. How so?
(Softer? Harder? Kinder? Colder?)
Things will never be the same.
We can never be the same.

(If you had read this days ago, you would have laughed, saying that I have made too much of so little.
But today is today.
And tomorrow comes too soon.)

We thought we knew how to count the days.
But the days go by so soon.

My words do not suffice.
And so, I  pray for you tonight.
That where men’s wisdom and patience end, that you may find God’s, and find it an unending source of strength and sustenance.

 

 

A slice of time and eternity.

is
H.’s view of Galilee

Our time here won’t be long.
In light of eternity, it is but a blink of an eye… A sliver of time.

But does the brevity of a thing diminish its brilliance?

Flowers and leaves; the pairings appear to augment the beauty of the other.
But some, You’ve set on their own.
Solitary hunters on sky, land, and sea.

And some things, no two people see quite the same.
Creation, in her indescribable beauty.
Creation, in her both her consistencies and chaos.

The gentle caress of the sun over the tops of the trees on early autumn mornings.
The setting sun, racing through a pine forest in light and shadows.
The gleaming wheat field in a gentle breeze.

The pouring rain and the majesty and terror of thunder and lighting.
The snow which falls silently, with the power to put a city to a standstill.
The calm and anger of waves that laps and smashes on shore with command from the ocean’s depths.

And what is Man?
What is Life?
What is Time?

If you should ever think your problem great, then I invite you to step outside and consider creation on display.

It is, and we are, all but a jot on a sliver of eternity.
But that jot is our all on this side of eternity.

Live. Use your talents well.
“Remember your creator in the days of your youth…”

Remember His mercies, for even losses may be blessings.
And things which were and are not.
That is His wisdom, too.

 

The Secret in Surrender

GOD OF THE PASSING HOUR,

Another week has gone and I have been
preserved
in my going out,
in my coming in.
Thine has been the vigilance that has turned
threatened evils aside;
Thine the supplies that have nourished me;
Thine the comforts that have indulged me;
Thine the relations and friends that have
delighted me;
Thine the means of grace which have edified me;
Thine the Book, which, amidst all my enjoyments,
    has told me that this is not my rest,
    that in all successes one thing alone is needful,
      to love my Saviour.
Nothing can equal the number of thy mercies
but my imperfections and sins.
These, O God, I will neither conceal nor palliate,
but confess with a broken heart.
In what condition would secret reviews
of my life leave me
were it not for the assurance that with thee
there is plenteous redemption,
that thou art a forgiving God,
that thou mayest be feared!
While I hope for pardon through the blood
of the cross,
  I pray to be clothed with humility,
to be quickened in thy way,
to be more devoted to thee,
 to keep the end of my life in view,
      to be cured of the folly of delay and indecision,
      to know how frail I am,
      to number my days and apply my heart
        unto wisdom.

Lord’s Day Eve, Valley of Vision

 

In surrendering to You, there is freedom and peace.
More freedom and deeper peace than we have ever known, and can ever have.
If we have striven to plan each moment of our life to the minute,
we would not know the wonders of Your grace and provision.
Lord, “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!””
(Isaiah 52:7)
Even now, as I admire the footprints of those who have gone before…
Their words of praise to You and encouragement to us, how beautiful.
And at the end of my time, if I may leave a mark or memory, let it be that I found love and joy in You,
and now,
do  rest in peace with You.

 

For a Friend.

Then she said, “Sit still, my daughter, until you know how the matter will turn out; for the man will not rest until he has concluded the matter this day.” | Ruth 3:18

The wind

I went back to visit the schoolyard where I had spent several years of childhood. The schoolyard with tether-ball and a baseball diamond, hopscotch and red brick walls.

The brick walls seemed higher then — constraining, but safe.
Today, they didn’t seem high at all.

I walked to the bench at the edge of the schoolyard, the invisible boundary line where all the children knew not the cross. The wooden bench, where we discussed our secrets and sorrows. Ahh, sorrows… What did we know of sorrow then?

The things that we thought we would break us.
The fears and dreams of our futures.

Our friends and foes, though at times, we hardly knew which was which.
And in time, many of them proved to be neither; they simply became a part of our memory, so foggy that you wonder if they were ever really there at all.

Friends.
At what point did this become true?
What are the expectations?
At what point does one deserve this title?
At what point is this taken away?

It was easy as children…
When our minds and actions spoke true.

Adults…
We learn to shield ourselves from the cold; we brace ourselves for the coldness of words and actions, real or imagined.

Truth and trust are lost, one after another.
And trust, once lost, destroys the roots of friendship.
It uproots it altogether, or slowly wither the roots until one day ,when you lean on the tree and it tumbles over; it was dead, and we didn’t know it.

How do you save it? How do you save a friend? A friendship?

(This wasn’t what I had planned to write at all.)
You teach that we can find the answers in ourselves.
But you see, all that you find in ‘self’ is sorrow.
The depths of our hearts is misery.
It is a black hole of confusion.
The answer is not in the ‘self.’

You had asked for friendship when we were no longer children.
Did I do all that was fit for me to do as a friend?
But this isn’t for me to defend myself.

No, but I am here, friend, to let you see what a friend would do.
(And though the best of friends may fail, He doesn’t.)

He’s a Friend who takes my sorrows and burdens and I can trust that in His hand, that burden is cared for.

The winds of fall and winter have started to blow of late.
I look at the trees in the forest, and wonder if any of them should tumble at the next storm. (Would ours?)
I’ve told Him about it, my fear for the trees.
He told me He knows, and it’s in His hands.

These days, the wind still blows.
But me, I’m learning to sit still.

 

—-Matthew Henry on Ruth 3 —-

  1.  To be satisfied in what was done: Sit still, my daughter, till thou know how the matter will fall (Ruth 3:18)–how it is decreed in heaven
    She had done all that was fit for her to do, and now she must patiently wait the issue and not be perplexed about it. Let us learn hence to cast our care upon providence, to follow that and attend the motions of it, composing ourselves into an expectation of the event, with a resolution to acquiesce in it, whatever it be. Sometimes that proves best done for us that is least our own doing. “Sit still, therefore, and see how the matter will fall, and say, Let it fall how it will, I am ready for it.”
  2. [He], having undertaken this matter, would approve himself a faithful careful friend: He will not be at rest till he have finished the matter. Though it was a busy time with him in his fields and his floor, yet, having undertaken to serve his friend, he would not neglect the business…
    Much more reason have good Christians to be careful for nothing, but cast their care on God, because he has promised to care for them: and what need have we to care if he do? Sit still, and see how the matter will fall, for the Lord will perfect that which concerns thee, and will make it to work for good to thee, Ps. 37:45138:8Your strength is to sit stillIsa. 30:7.
“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lordendures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.”
— Psalm 138:8

Promises | All came to pass

“So, you’re busy.
Who isn’t? I have two jobs and three kids, you don’t have to tell me about busy.
I’m not asking if you’re busy. I’m asking you if God called you or not.
And if He called you, what’s your response?” — K.

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Joshua 21:43-45

So the Lord gave to Israel all the land of which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they took possession of it and dwelt in it.  The Lord gave them rest all around, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers. And not a man of all their enemies stood against them; the Lord delivered all their enemies into their hand.
Not a word failed of any good thing which the Lord had spoken to the house of Israel.
All came to pass.

 

We have here the conclusion of this whole matter, the foregoing history summed up, and, to make it appear the more bright, compared with the promise of which it was the full accomplishment. God’s word and his works mutually illustrate each other. The performance makes the promise appear very true and the promise makes the performance appear very kind.

I. God had promised to give the seed of Abraham the land of Canaan for a possession, and now at last he performed this promise (Josh. 21:43): They possessed it, and dwelt therein. Though they had often forfeited the benefit of that promise, and God had long delayed the performance of it, yet at last all difficulties were conquered, and Canaan was their own. And the promise of the heavenly Canaan is as sure to all God’s spiritual Israel, for it is the promise of him that cannot lie.

II. God had promised to give them rest in that land, and now they had rest round about, rest from the fatigues of their travel through the wilderness (which tedious march, perhaps, was long in their bones), rest from their wars in Canaan, and the insults which their enemies there had at first offered them. They now dwelt, not only in habitations of their own, but those quiet and peaceable ones; though there were Canaanites that remained, yet none that had either strength or spirit to attack them, nor so much as give them an alarm. This rest continued till they by their own sin and folly put thorns into their own beds and their own eyes.

III. God had promised to give them victory and success in their wars, and this promise likewise was fulfilled: There stood not a man before themJosh. 21:44. They had the better in every battle, and which way soever they turned their forces they prospered. It is true there were Canaanites now remaining in many parts of the land, and such as afterwards made head against them, and became very formidable. But,
1. As to the present remains of the Canaanites, they were no contradiction to the promise, for God had said he would not drive them out all at once, but by little and littleExod. 23:30. They had now as much in their full possession as they had occasion for and as they had hands to manage, so that the Canaanites only kept possession of some of the less cultivated parts of the country against the beasts of the field, till Israel, in process of time, should become numerous enough to replenish them.
2. As to the after prevalency of the Canaanites, that was purely the effect of Israel’s cowardice and slothfulness, and the punishment of their sinful inclination to the idolatries and other abominations of the heathen, whom the Lord would have cast out before them but that they harboured and indulged them. So that the foundation of God stands sure. Israel’s experience of God’s fidelity is here upon record, and is an acquittance under their hands to the honour of God, the vindication of his promise which had been so often distrusted, and the encouragement of all believers to the end of the world: There failed not any good thing, no, nor aught of any good thing (so full is it expressed), which the Lord had spoken unto the house of Israel, but in due time all came to passJosh. 21:45. Such an acknowledgment as this, here subscribed by Joshua in the name of all Israel, we afterwards find made by Solomon, and all Israel did in effect say Amen to it, 1 Kgs. 8:56.

The inviolable truth of God’s promise, and the performance of it to the utmost, are what all the saints have been ready to bear their testimony to; and, if in any thing the performance has seemed to come short, they have been as ready to own that they themselves must bear all the blame.

Matthew Henry on Joshua 21:43-45

 

Thank You for answering my questions.
That You work in the midst of storms, and in quiet whispers.
That You are faithful even when we are faithless (2 Tim 2:13).
That You prune to increase our growth (John 15:2).
Keep me from the lie that began in Eden, the doubt that led to sin and man’s downfall.
The doubt that You are good, the doubt that You plan for my good and for all who believe in You.
The doubt in Your love for me.
That You give grace and glory.
And not a single good thing do You withhold from those who walk rightly in You (Psalm 84:11).

Here, let me learn to glorify You by being joyfully satisfied in You always.

S.D.g.

ב Beth — Remember Israel

What is the value of purity? Depends on what you speak of. 9 How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. 12 Blessed are […]

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