Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Wholehearted "Yes"

When my inner radar detects a storm cell forming in my circumstances, an icy blast of arctic air on the way, I fear.  Beneath the fear, if I dare to look, lies rebellion, a digging in of my soul’s heels in refusal of what I sense is coming.

Orienting myself toward celebration, the present moment, and the extraordinary ordinary fuel delight in God; that rebellion strangles it, like plaque on spiritual arteries restricting the flow of joy and praise.  The converse is also true, though:  surrender and obedience energize celebration.  As we grow in holiness, which Elisabeth Elliot used to define in her radio talks as “a whole-hearted ‘yes’ to God,” our countenances as well as our characters and actions are transformed.

Celebration and transformation are dance partners of sorts.  Celebration and praise can prove means as well as results of our deliverance (2 Chronicles 20); celebration can be an instrument as well as the song of our transformation.  Richard Foster notes that obedience leads to joy, but joy also lubricates the gears of obedience.  Instead of a vicious cycle, we have a gracious cycle; instead of a downward spiral, an upward.

Celebration may begin as a practice, a choice to obey the call to gratitude and delight in God, before it becomes an orientation.  In this sense, spiritual practices are not unlike a musician’s scales and arpeggios, prerequisite to the grand works of repertoire we want to play. Just so, we have to choose to exercise our faith muscles before our hearts will sing. However, Christian spiritual practices are just that: spiritual, or should I say Spiritual?  God’s Spirit in us prompts, enables, and sustains what seems to begin with our choice.

As I practice turning from rebellion and towards obedience, as I accept what Providence brings and choose praise and trust that God is good and gracious in the hard as well as the happy, grace moves me to a place of readiness to receive Jesus’ promise of joy unlike the world’s joy.  His Spirit produces His fruit in me, including joy.

Foster describes the process this way:
Joy is found in obedience.  When the power that is in Jesus reaches into our work and play and redeems them, there will be joy where once there was mourning. To overlook this is to miss the meaning of the Incarnation (Celebration of Discipline, p.193).
I am still very much a kindergarten student in this, practicing daily and stumbling often.  Remembering to celebrate the small moments and smooth days builds the holy habit for the harder celebrations.  That’s whyI keep a gratitude journal; noticing the small ways God loves me and remembering them long enough to write them down focuses my attention on good.  Jesus’ Gethsemane prayer also helps me, especially in the shift from rebellion to obedience: “Not my will, but Yours be done.” Lifting my voice can help my heart to feel what I believe: “Give thanks to the LORD, for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” I say it out loud, sing it, listen to others sing it, and counter the lies that kill delight in God and His gifts.  Like Jehoshaphat, I, too, can send the worship team ahead of the army and watch the Lord fight for me.

As I practice and grow in celebration, turning my face to the Lord and learning to delight more in Him, He will transform and produce more celebration as His joy, the joy of Christ Himself, grows in me.  This is the witness of those wiser in the discipline than I, and I believe it will be so.  Right now, though, I’m still practicing.

May the Son of God who is already formed in you grow in you—so that for you he will become immeasurable, and that in you he will become laughter, exultation, the fullness of joy which no one can take from you.
-Isaac of Stella, quoted in Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, p.26

This is a repost from the archives, written and first shared 2 years ago. I'm still practicing, probably still in kindergarten or even demoted, but fatigue has a way of dulling celebration, doesn't it? Physical therapy continues. My ankle is responding well but my back is not, so it will likely continue to continue (and even intensify) beyond next week. You who pray for me, I'd be grateful if you'd ask our Father for renewed strength and encouragement to persevere (or redirection).  You are a gift!!


Monday, January 28, 2013

On This Day in January {Daybook 2013}

For 28 January 2013

Outside my window...
The overcast sky dulls the already dull colors of the brown winter grass and pavement, but not the premature green blades pushing up from the back garden, apparently confused by the warm temperatures.

I am thinking...
about the difference between Galatians 6:2, "Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ," and Galatians 6:5, "For each one will bear his own load." Personally, I am grateful for friends who helped bear the burden of increased back pain last week by praying for me and for the physical therapy machine that "reduced the load" on my low back and ankle so I could walk on the treadmill there. As Moses had Aaron and Hur to hold up his arms holding the staff of God so that the army of Israel would prevail (Exodus 17:6-16), as he had Jethro to advise him to delegate some of the responsibility of governing the people, we all need comrades in the body of Christ to help us bear what is too great and set boundaries when we take on more than we ought (Exodus 18:13-27).

Sometimes we need straight talk to give ourselves permission to rest, and sometimes we just need someone to put a stone beneath us so we can sit down, don't we? I pray you have such people.

I am thankful...
Right now, my back and ankle both hurt less today than last week.

In the kitchen...
My study things are spread out over the table waiting for me to read through this week's Nehemiah homework. Nothing is cooking because my beloved is fetching home some healthy prepared meals, thanks to a Groupon deal.

I am wearing...
a well-worn periwinkle cotton knit dress and a light grey short-sleeved sweater (and ankle brace and wrist brace).

I am creating...
nothing of significance at present. Disrupted sleep and busy days leave body and mind weary.

I am going...
to my fourth physical therapy appointment in the morning after taking A. to work.

I am wondering...
what the outcome of this cycle of physical therapy will be and what to do about the new aches that keep cropping up.

I am reading...
The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs. I'm also listening to the audiobooks of Jane Eyre and Les Miserables.

I am hoping...
for that new body God is preparing for me someday. More immediately, I'm hoping to sleep through the night tonight.

I am looking forward to...
seeing friends at Bible study Wednesday morning, Lord willing.

I am learning...
Ephesians 3:8-9, NIV1984:
Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.

Around the house...
Laundry sits in the washer pre-soaking, the sink is beautifully empty, my planner needs updating, Bible study homework awaits, and my PT things are gathered for tomorrow. Ebony sits in "my" favorite chair, his usual post when I'm at the computer, and husband remains at the office a bit longer.

I am pondering...
what "wall" God has (or wants to) put in my heart to build. That's another overarching challenge question in this Bible study. I didn't have an answer for it the first time round, and I'm not sure I do this time either, other than the obvious, to grow in (active) love for the Lord, my husband, and the body of Christ.

A favorite quote for today...
   I read a lot of theology books. That's my job--and my passion. But every time I pick one up, I raise a silent challenge: "Make me sing." I go to a lot of worship services. That also is my job--and my passion. My challenge is, "Take me deeper." The knowledge of God and the praise of God, theology and doxology, belong together. They are dance partners in the fulfillment of our chief end: to glorify and enjoy God forever. 
   Theology that doesn't make us sing has failed in its mission, no matter how correct it may be. Worship that doesn't take us deeper into Christ has also failed, no matter how glorious the music or how applicable the sermon. Praising God properly means deepening our knowledge of this God we adore. Our hearts should be set aflame when we really explore how the Father sent His Son into the world to save us, and then joined us to that Savior by sending His Holy Spirit into our hearts. Great theology stirs the heart. Excellent worship grows our knowledge. (Dr. Gerrit Scott Dawson, "Theology and Doxology," Tabletalk, January 2013).

One of my favorite things...
a rediscovered afghan my grandmother made when my sisters and I were small.
And today the role of Vanna White will be played by Ebony Dawg.
A few plans for the rest of the week:
physical therapy, Bible study gathering, a routine health screening (which I hope yields routine results), a home refinance meeting, and physical therapy.

A peek into my day...
(Ok, so this photo was taken two weeks ago, but I just copied it from the camera today, and it makes me smile. Fair enough?)

Sharing with Peggy Hostetler's The Simple Woman's Daybook today

Also, I must not neglect to keep counting God's gifts, the obviously good and the mysteriously so:
a new sister in Christ on a foreign mission field :: angels rejoicing :: inexplicably high back pain levels last week :: opportunity to receive physical therapist's help :: loads lifted :: loads shared :: astonishing improvement in ankle strength and mobility :: answered prayer for sleep Tuesday night :: attending Bible study group :: borrowed second car to make appointments easier last week :: time with my parents :: and Mezzo :: Chinese takeout for supper Friday night :: enough pain control for movie with Amore yesterday :: the sure promise of happiness to those who wait for (hope in, expect, long for) the Lord

Therefore the Lord is waiting to show you mercy,
and is rising up to show you compassion,
for the Lord is a just God.
All who wait patiently for Him are happy.
Isaiah 30:18, HCSB

counting gifts 9000-9014 along with the gratitude community at A Holy Experience,

Monday, January 21, 2013

A Thousand Different Things

In the new devotional A Quiet Place, by Nancy Leigh DeMoss, the Bible teacher quotes this John Piper statement:
In every situation and circumstance of your life, God is always doing a thousand different things that you cannot see and you do not know (January 8).
 Every situation. Always. A thousand different things.

For some reason, this reminded me of an illustration the late Corrie ten Boom, a survivor of German concentration camps in World War II, used to use. She would hold up a piece of cloth covered with snarls and knots and criss-crosses and weavings in of thread of various colors. This, she said, was what life often looked like to us. What a mess. What chaos. The embroiderer clearly did not know her craft very well, did she?

Then Miss ten Boom would turn the fabric over to reveal a glorious golden cross wreathed in jewel-toned flowers. The reason it all looked a mess before, she would say, is that we were looking at the wrong side. And so it is with life. When things look to be a mess, chaos, the catastrophic creation of fumbling fingers, it's because we are looking at the wrong side. One day we will see things aright, and we will see the glory all those snarls and knots and doublings back have woven together.

What difference would it make in my present circumstances and in my feelings for the distress of loved ones if I believed to the marrow of my bones that the apparent mess means God is at work doing something glorious? What difference would it make if I had full confidence in the goodness of the God who is "always doing a thousand different things that [I] cannot see and [I] do not know" in the boundaries, trials, opportunities, and gifts I face today?

Did Joseph, whose story I finished reading today, have an inkling of the thousand different things God was doing in his life when his brothers threw him in a pit; stole, shredded, and bloodied his splendid robe; sold him to Midianite traders; and passed him off to his father as dead? Did he know he was looking at the wrong side of the cloth?

By the end of his life, he at least knew that his brothers were merely the instruments God used to send him ahead to Egypt to preserve many people alive (Gen. 50:20). The Lord had plans for a famine in the land promised to the patriarchs, and they would need someplace with food where they could wait out the hard times. The famine would be so widespread that only giving the greatest ruler in the world at that time advanced notice to fill his storehouses would ensure food for His people.

So He sent Joseph, the "lord of the dreams," as his brothers called him, ahead. He was in the right place at the right time to interpret Pharaoh's prophetic dreams because he was in the dungeon at the right time to interpret two of his servants' dreams. He was in the dungeon at the right time for that because he was falsely accused by his employer's wife. He was working for this boss to begin with because the Midianite traders had sold him into slavery there. The traders sold him there because his envious brothers had sold him for the price of a slave. Ergo, as Joseph reasons, "God sent him to preserve many people alive."

What we can also see (that Joseph perhaps couldn't) is that during all those delays and difficulties between Joseph's own prophetic dreams and the fulfillment of those dreams when his family bows down to him in Egypt, "Until the time that his word came to pass,/The word of the Lord tested him" (Psalm 105:19). Some have also seen in the story a foreshadowing of Another who would suffer unjustly for the eternal salvation of many. And who knows what fruit came of the other slaves and prisoners watching on in amazement as everything this Joseph touched turned to gold (or grain, which is sometimes more to the point)?

Those are no small gleams of glory from this one story. "A thousand different things"? It boggles the mind. As Elisabeth Elliot's second husband used to say, "You can't unscrew the inscrutable."

The devotional entry which began with the Piper quote concludes with this paragraph:
You will never be able to fully fathom what God is doing in your life. You cannot possibly see the end or the outcome of each situation. Not yet anyway. But you can be sure that He knows what He is doing. He is God and He is working--purposefully, skillfully, lovingly. And one day when you look back on your journey from heaven's perspective, you will see His hand in all those inexplicable circumstances, and you will say with wonder and worship: "You have done all things well!" Count on it.

Lord, mark our lives indelibly with Your unique fingerprints, that the world may know that You are with us. While we wait beneath the wrong side of the fabric, strengthen us to keep trusting that You are doing a thousand different things in our circumstances, and that those things are for our good, Your glory, and others' gain, because of our most glorious Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Thanks be to God for some of His (ten) thousand gifts I can recognize now:
God's beautiful masterpieces in His children's lives :: Joseph's story (Gen. 37-50) :: "endurance and encouragement from the Scriptures, that we might have hope (Rom. 15:4) :: more x-rays confirmed no ankle fracture :: a friend's father-in-law's extreme suffering is over :: attending Bible study for the second week of this new session :: lunch with a friend afterward :: her daughter most unimpressed with me :: another session of physical therapy beginning Friday :: grace for a scheduling misunderstanding :: Panera salad afterward :: Google chat with a long-time friend :: strength to work hard Saturday on shopping and food preparation :: husband's hard work cleaning up the mess the live oak made in front of the house :: persevering in exercises old and new :: empathy with sister who injured her own ankle before Thanksgiving and has not healed any faster than I have :: grace for all the things left undone at the end of each day (including comments and e-mail replies to no few of you) :: two more verses of Ephesians learned
(gratitude journal #8890-8907)


Monday, January 14, 2013

A Frangible Heart

Hanani, one of my brothers, arrived with men from Judah, and I questioned them about Jerusalem and the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile. 3 They said to me, “The remnant in the province, who survived the exile, are in great trouble and disgrace. Jerusalem’s wall has been broken down, and its gates have been burned down.”

4 When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven (Nehemiah 1:2-4, HCSB).

In approximately the year 444 B.C., a Jewish exile named Nehemiah served Artaxerxes, king of Persia, in the privileged capacity of cupbearer. While the king and his staff were in residence at Susa (favored winter home of the Persian kings beginning Darius the Great), Nehemiah received a visit from one of his brothers and other Jews newly arrived from Judah, their homeland.

Sadly, the men brought bad news. The remnant of Jews residing there (not or no longer in exile) were suffering. Although the temple had been rebuilt already under Zerubbabel and temple worship reestablished under Ezra, Jerusalem's wall remained in ruins, leaving the people and their place of worship vulnerable.

Nehemiah, living in luxury as one of the upper echelon of royal servants, could have shrugged off the news. "What has that to do with me?" he could have said.

He didn't. As referenced above, he sat down and wept for his kinsmen and his city, God's city. This wasn't just a passing spasm of sympathy as an evening news story might generate in us. He mourned for days, expressing his sorrow with fasting and prayer. His heart broke for the suffering of others.

The ladies' Bible study I joined a year ago began this last week to study Nehemiah using Kelly Minter's DVDs and study guide, Nehemiah: A Heart That Can Break. In the opening DVD and homework lesson, Kelly challenged us to pray that God would show us where our hearts were "cold or numb" and to pray "that God will give you compassion..., that He would develop in you the heart Jesus has for others" (study guide, 14). She urged us to pray for a heart like Nehemiah's, a heart that can break with the needs of others.

I had already worked through this study last summer with an online community. It was tempting to wait out this first six-week session of the year, but I signed on to continue growing the relationships begun last year. During the first session of this second time through, I realized perhaps why the study didn't bowl me over the first time.

I'm not sure I want a heart that can break, or in any event a heart more frangible* than the one I have already. Life is hard and full of heartbreak. Wouldn't a heart of stainless steel or silicone or Kevlar be more beneficial?

In the short term, perhaps it would, but God takes the long view with us. Furthermore, He desires to do us the unfathomable good of conforming us to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29). Christ of all men had a heart that could break. He wept over Jerusalem's obdurate refusal of her Messiah. He wept at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. "Compassion" is one of the gospel writers' favored terms for Jesus, and Jesus' own term for the good Samaritan and the prodigal's father, both models for our emulation.

At least I recognize my hesitation now. I do not (yet) truly desire a more tender, frangible heart, but I do desire to desire it. I am willing to be made willing, Lord. Give me a heart after Yours.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit,to sustain me.
Psalm 51:12, NIV1984

*Frangible, per Merriam-Webster Online, is "readily or easily broken." It is distinct from "fragile" in that frangible implies susceptibility to being broken without implying weakness or delicacy.

Thank You, Father in heaven, for
::challenging examples
::our tenderhearted Savior
::Your living and active Word, always performing heart surgery
::Your patience with me
::second chances
::the Bible study ladies
::resuming that routine
::a cancellation for the ankle doctor to see me today instead of next week
::rehab exercises generating some improvement
::another prescription to seek more help from formal physical therapy
::another opportunity to say yes to Your will instead of mine
::a prayer ministry through which I can serve my church
::lunch with family Wednesday
::layer cake with frosting
::3" rain in 48 hours
::my Nonni's voice on voicemail
::nephews singing on phone
::another lost tooth for Lightning
::birthday emails
::splendid sunrise Friday
::date supper from favorite local Italian restaurant
::new tableware
::sister's gift of a new hat
::Ebony photobombing my modeling attempt in said hat (operative word there being "attempt")
::a second shower to use while the primary one is under repair
::sister's household is fever-free after two weeks of passing flu around (despite vaccines for all)
::full refrigerator, a luxury in this world
::"Jesus calling" us in truth, calling by name, calling home in repentance, calling forth in service
(counting gifts, #8746-8774)


Monday, January 7, 2013

"In the Hand of a Gracious God"

The morning devotional from Morning and Evening yesterday fortified and comforted me so much that I'm sharing it here as I review it for myself. The following selection meditates on the text 1 Peter 5:7, "casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you" (HCSB).
It is a happy way of soothing sorrow when we can feel-"HE careth for me." Christian! do not dishonour religion by always wearing a brow of care; come, cast your burden upon your Lord. You are staggering beneath a weight which your Father would not feel. What seems to you a crushing burden, would be to him but as the small dust of the balance. . . . 
O child of suffering, be thou patient; God has not passed thee over in his providence. He who is the feeder of sparrows, will also furnish you with what you need. Sit not down in despair; hope on, hope ever. Take up the arms of faith against a sea of trouble, and your opposition shall yet end your distresses. There is One who careth for you. His eye is fixed on you, his heart beats with pity for your woe, and his hand omnipotent shall yet bring you the needed help. The darkest cloud shall scatter itself in showers of mercy. The blackest gloom shall give place to the morning. He, if thou art one of his family, will bind up thy wounds, and heal thy broken heart. Doubt not his grace because of thy tribulation, but believe that he loveth thee as much in seasons of trouble as in times of happiness. What a serene and quiet life might you lead if you would leave providing to the God of providence! With a little oil in the cruse, and a handful of meal in the barrel, Elijah outlived the famine, and you will do the same. If God cares for you, why need you care too? Can you trust him for your soul, and not for your body? He has never refused to bear your burdens, he has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God (Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, Jan. 6 morning selection).
These words encourage me all the more for knowing that their author was himself no stranger to need and suffering. Spurgeon suffered physical pain from the autoimmune disease gout, emotional pain from chronic depression, and the grief of lives and property lost when the building where his congregation met was destroyed in a terrible fire during a worship service. From such a man, these exhortations bear living witness.

If God cares for me, why need I care too, indeed? Can I trust Him for my soul, and not for my body? "He has never refused to bear [my] burdens, He has never fainted under their weight. Come, then, soul! have done with fretful care, and leave all thy concerns in the hand of a gracious God."

Knowing as I do that gratitude to God helps allay "fretful care," let us give thanks for God's gifts in the first week of this new year:
::the infinite-personal God who created all that is, was, and will be cares for me
::His mighty strength to bear our burdens
::wise words from times past
::watching The Return of the King as the year changed, possibly the first time in our marriage we've actually stayed up that late New Year's Eve
::grace of sleeping late to compensate
::quiet New Year's lunch with parents
::black-eyed peas
::greater tolerance of ankle brace instead of boot
::learning endurance
::more time together Saturday than usual
::new spectacles
::a cancellation open next Monday with ankle doctor to get a second look
::people who pray
::pleasant conversation with some new acquaintances after church
::strength for an extra-long service
::free misto from Starbucks this morning
::central heat and hot water
::encouragement this morning from Genesis 18 and Matthew 6 to pray boldly and persistently
(from the gratitude journal, #8663-8680)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Just What We Always Wanted

On Christmas Eve we celebrated the birth of Christ and exchanged gifts with my family at my youngest sister's house. She and her husband parent our three youngest nephews, whom we will call for blogging purposes Rocky and the Thunder Twins.

These boys have been thoroughly taught about the true meaning of Christmas. Nonetheless, they were extremely excited about the presents given and received that day. So eager were they, in fact, that when they weren't opening their own gifts they helpfully volunteered to help the grown-ups open theirs.

Somewhere in the middle of the unwrapping, as piles of toys and empty boxes accumulated in the living area, the twins opened remote-controlled monster trucks and Rocky, who at three years of age has not quite attained to the glory of RC toys, opened his gift, a toy eighteen-wheeler with shelves inside the trailer on which to store and transport his collection of small toy cars.

When the contents of the package were revealed to him, he gasped. His face lit up with the biggest, brightest grin, his brown eyes crinkled and twinkled into two points of starlight beneath those long lashes, and he exclaimed, "I wanted this! I wanted this!!!" That utter joy of desire fulfilled unexpectedly brought tears to my eyes.

Thinking this week about Jesus' early childhood after the stable and the angels and the shepherds and the star, my thoughts naturally turn to Simeon (Luke 2:22-35).

After the days of Mary's purification from childbirth were complete (which Lev. 12:1ff. specifies as 33), she and Joseph took the infant Jesus to the temple to offer the required sacrifices. Luke says they brought "a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons" (2:24), and Leviticus informs us that this was the offering of the poorest of the poor, who could not afford to offer a lamb (Lev. 12:6-8).

Simeon was "righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel [i.e., Messiah], and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death until he had seen the Lord's Christ [again, Messiah or Anointed One]" (Luke 2:25-26, NASB). On this particular morning when Mary, Joseph, and Jesus came to offer sacrifices, that same Spirit led him to the temple as well. When Simeon saw this impoverished family with birds in hand, he took into his arms that tiny infant who could not even hold His head up yet, and he said,

“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel" (Luke 2:29-32, NASB).

In other words, "I wanted this! I wanted Him! I have seen Your salvation, Lord, and now my life is complete." My nephew's beaming face gives me some hint of how Simeon's countenance must have glowed that day with utter satisfaction and the consummation of life's dearest hopes.

My nephew's reaction returned to mind in another context, when a dear friend sent me a letter holding a glimpse into her heart and desires. In response to the verse, "It will be said on that day, 'Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for him; let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation'" (Isaiah 25:9), she mused that so often she waits for the Lord to solve her problems instead of waiting just for Him, Himself.

I understood what she meant, for I know at times, in a hard pain week, I want health and relief more than I want endurance, spiritual maturity, and "the fellowship of His sufferings." Although I am learning to pray that I would want to know God better more than I want to feel better, that is often not the reality. How much of the sanctification process, I wonder, is simply that winnowing of all our wantings until like Simeon and the people Isaiah described, seeing the God for whom we wait is our chief end and greatest good.

In hope and faith, let us cling to the promise that His children will see Him someday, and on that day we will be like Him. Perhaps we will even clap our hands and jump for childlike joy as we shout, "Here He is. We waited for this. We wanted Him! We wanted Him!! And here He is!" Let us be glad and rejoice in His salvation, indeed. He is and ever shall be just what we always wanted.

What I'm holding in head, heart, hands, and home as this week concludes:
::the beginning of Ephesians 3 to hide in my heart
::increased back pain
::perhaps slightly decreased ankle pain
::wise men moving closer to the manger scene
::thoughts of Bible study resuming next week
::completion of the book of Advent readings I bought for 2012
::not minding tardiness so much since the last few readings concerned the wise men and Simeon
::a lovely audio recording of a modern English translation of the novel Les Miserables (accent grave on the first "e" there; not sure how to do that)
::a load of laundry buzzing that it's dry
::birthday cards to send out for next week
::a sleeping, peaceful dog who ate part of a Ziploc bag this morning (so far, so good; praying it doesn't cause problems)

sharing with my friend Amy's "What I'm Holding" Friday posts

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Prayer for New Year's Day

Sustain me according to Your word, that I may live;
And do not let me be ashamed of my hope.
Uphold me that I may be safe,
That I may have regard for Your statutes continually.

Ps. 119:116-117, NASB

O Love beyond compare,
Thou are good when thou givest,
                          when thou takest away,
                          when the sun shines upon me,
                          when night gathers over me.

Thy goodness has been with me during another year,
              leading me through a twisting wilderness,
              in retreat helping me to advance,
              when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou has veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou has appointed storms of tribulation,
         thou will be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
         I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
         I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
         grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
         I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
         as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,
        with thee, O Father, as my harbour,
                 thee, O Son, at my helm,
                 thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Give me thy grace to sanctify me,
                thy comforts to cheer,
                thy wisdom to teach,
                thy right hand to guide,
                thy counsel to instruct,
                thy law to judge,
                thy presence to stabilize.
My thy fear be my awe,
       thy triumphs my joy.

~from "Year's End" and "New Year" in The Valley of Vision: A collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions