To look for community instead of cocktail-party relationships is part of choosing sides in the vast, strange battle. To say, “I’m sorry”; to be silent; to say “I love you,” “I care.” It is these little things that are going to make the difference. For God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, the weak to overthrow the strong.
– The Irrational Season (1977) by Madeleine L’Engle
I’ve written about this before, I’m sure; I am writing to myself again. I long for community, real and true. I think I’m settling for cocktail-party relationships via social media. I see the words “I love you”, “I care” “praying” all over facebook, but what does it really mean? Is it so others can see you are so concerned? To do so in person is another kettle of fish all together.
It is not easy to say I’m sorry, especially I’m sorry without a but after it. However, it’s often too easy to say I love you – love ya – as an alternate to see ya later. Said too easily and it looses its meaning. Saying I care may be harder; harder still to show you care in a tangible may.
But the hardest may be to be silent. Silent when you want to scream or cry or yell or explain or accuse or complain.
My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation is from Him. – Psalm 62:5
Help me, LORD, to be silent. To show love and care. To pray.
Dear Father… You are patient and gracious far beyond our deserving. Let us hope for your forgiveness when we can find no way to forgive ourselves. You bless our lives even when we have shown ourselves to be utterly ungrateful and unworthy. May we be strengthened and renewed, to make us less unworthy of blessing, through these your gifts of sustenance, of friendship and family.” – prayed by Jack in Home by Marilynne Robinson
You would have to read the book to understand how beautiful and sad this prayer is. Jack, the “black sheep” of the family prays here and it nearly broke my heart. This is the prayer I need to pray. Every. Single. Day. I identify with the ‘no way to forgive ourselves’ sentiment. And the being blessed even while ungrateful and unworthy.
Prayer doesn’t change things, but prayer lays hold of God who changes things and Who, in prayer, changes you. And sometimes in the midst of it all He gives you the assurance that your plea has been granted. – from The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
I like that part about how God changes us in prayer. And gives us assurance.
“ …in tight places you have made space for me.” – The Way of the Righteous in the Muck of Life by Dale Ralph Davis
David was almost killed by a javelin thrown by Saul, his house was watched by Saul’s henchmen, he was let down through a window and escaped; yet in all this he pleas for and relies on the grace and mercy of God. Oh to have the faith of David!
I can’t say I’ve had the experiences of David. We all have our own trials and temptations, but God knows this. He knows our needs even before we do. I do know that God has relieved me in many distresses but I also know I have clung to crumbling walls and fretted over failures instead of giving my burdens to Him. My prayer today is for mercy.
As a grandparent, I’m learning to be more aware of the feelings of young children who can’t express what it is they are feeling. Sometimes these little ones just don’t have the words to tell us that they are tired or frustrated. Being aware and patient could actually help us deal with people of all ages.
This awareness really hit me one evening when my grandson asked me to read a book for the third night in a row. It is called “Animal Daddies and My Daddy”. I was taking care of him and his sister while their parents were out of town and I think he chose that book because he was really missing his daddy. The other book he chose for me to read was Eric Carle’s “Animals Animals” because he said it was his mom’s favorite book. This was his way of being close to them while they were away and he was missing them so.
Kids go through so many stages as they grow up. Around 5 or 6, as they become more aware of the world around them and understand things better, they may develop new fears. One common occurrence is fear of the dark. My grandson is going through this right now. As I was reading to him and his little sister from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones, I found a wonderful version of Psalm 23. I shared it with my daughter-in-law, thinking this could help calm the fears of the little guy who is a superhero by day, but not so much by night.
1. Don’t pray to seen by men – And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward – Matthew 6:5
2. Don’t start with your wants – “In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:9-10
The structure of what is familiarly known as The Lord’s Prayer begins with God, then goes on to mankind and our needs.
3. Don’t expect to always have the beautiful words. – sometimes we comes to God and our souls are dry and empty. “Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” – Romans 8:26
4. Don’t focus on yourself – Refocus your eyes on God – if you are a Christian, He is your Father – look to Him.
Approach Him with reverence, not in INDEPENDENCE, but rather IN DEPENDENCE.
Please know that I am talking to myself here as well. Thanks to Mark Soud for his messages on Matthew.
After Christiana and Mercy were approached by two unsavory men, they cried out for help. They were unharmed, but very scared until Reliever came to them. He wondered why they had not asked for help before they set on their way.
Christiana said they were so taken by their blessing that future dangers didn’t enter their minds. Then she wondered why the Lord had not given them help anyway since He knew what was to come.
This is Reliever’s response:
“It is not always necessary to grant things not asked for, lest by doing so, they become of little esteem; but when the Want of a thing is felt, it then comes under, in the eyes of him that feels it, that estimate, that properly is it due, and so consequently will be hereafter used…. So all things work for good, and tend to make you more wary.”
I see two related lessons here.
God allows us to want and need things so that we learn to lean on Him. When we come to God with our fears, concerns, or needs, He may grant us peace, or clarity, or actual provisions. When we realize that all we have is from Him, we love Him more and appreciate all His blessings even more.
This next one may be reaching, but I don’t think so. Parents can apply this to how they give to their children. If you give them everything and they never have to wait or ask or even work for it, it becomes much less meaningful.