30.1.23: Whatever God sends

A few days ago I received my first ever personal glimpse into the concept of “vocation” (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-djN). You may, with complete justification, think me very ignorant about this. Anyway, yesterday, I was given a little more understanding.

I saw that there are many kinds of vocation, and that each is a gift from God to a particular individual. We can ignore, resent, resist, reject, or fight against our vocation. Alternatively, we can freely choose to accept and embrace it with joy, whatever it may be.

This made me wonder whether writing, running my website and being chronically ill have come together to form my vocation – a question which has never crossed my mind before. Then today’s blog began to flow, though it was extremely difficult to put into words. My apologies for the masculine pronouns; I just couldn’t make it work without them.

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).

Receive whatever God sends
With grace,
Whether it’s good or ill,
For the Lord brings blessings
From everything,
When we accept his will.

Embrace whatever God gives
With thanks,
Whether it’s bad or good,
For the Lord brings blessings
From everything,
Through his Son’s precious blood.

Give back whatever God takes
With love,
No matter how great the pain,
For the Lord brings blessings
From everything,
And he will restore us again.

You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again (Psalm 71:20; NLT).


References 

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NIV).

I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things (Isaiah 45:7; NLT).

God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood (Romans 3:23-5; NLT).

Everything we have has come from you, and we give you only what you first gave us (1 Chronicles 29:14; NLT).

Accept whatever he gives, and give whatever he takes with a big smile (Saint Mother Theresa).

The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed! (Job 1:21; NET).

Walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called: with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity (Ephesians 4:1-2; CPDV).


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday I was able to continue making my first rosary in the new way – by beginning in the middle of the circle. Hopefully I will finish it tomorrow:

29.1.23: Seeing Christ

Today’s blog builds on one of my very favourite prayers. I say it every morning, having come across it many years ago in “Pocket Prayers for Pilgrims”. This little book was compiled by John Pritchard (Church House Publishing; 2011; page 33). Here it is:

Lord God,
Whoever you bring into our path today,
May we see Christ in them,
And may they see Christ in us,
For your love’s sake.
Amen.

Over the years, without even realising it, I’ve made this prayer more personal. Then, when I was saying it with my circlet yesterday (on bead 1/4), I suddenly saw how it could be extended:

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Lord God,
Whoever you bring into my path,
My mind,
And my prayers today,
May I see Christ in them,
And may they see Christ in me,
For Thy love’s sake,
Amen.

All of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord – who is the Spirit – makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image (2 Corinthians 3:18; NLT). 

Having written this down I began to pray again (still on 1/4), but a question immediately flashed into my mind:

Do you really think it makes any difference to God whether we are Orthodox, Catholic, Protestant, Methodist, Evangelical, Lutheran, or any other denomination? 

The answer, of course, is No – it makes no difference at all, because what God wants is for us to be Christian in the fullest and truest sense of the word. So what does being a Christian actually mean?

Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT).

It means giving up our selfish ways,
Taking up our cross each day,
And following Jesus.

It means growing more like him
In all we think, say,
And do.

It means seeing, loving,
And serving him
In everyone,

Including those we disagree with,
Or disapprove of,
And those who hate or hurt us.

Love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

By the time I’d written this down, I hardly dared to continue praying, for fear of what might follow. However, I needn’t have worried, because I was able to let bead 1/4 go, and to move on, though of course I never know what will come next. In fact, bead 1/5 turned out to be full of heartfelt thanks and praise, for which I was very grateful.


References

Love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 19:19; NLT). 

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5; NIV).

Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:49; NIV). 


The Rosary Hospital 

Today I was able to begin trying out the new rosary-making method I stumbled upon yesterday. This means starting in the middle of the main circlet.

Apart from giving one decade 13 beads, and having to take back a couple of barrel knots to put this right, it worked out well. At the moment, I don’t really understand why it works, but that’s not important. What counts is that it enables me to make two identical knots at the places where the main circle joins the centrepiece, as shown in the photo below. Hopefully, I’ll be able to finish making this rosary tomorrow.

28.1.23: Jesus

When I reached the first bead of the second decade on my prayer-circlet yesterday morning, I suddenly saw the word Jesus, in bold lettering. It was shining just above a dark shape I was looking towards. I don’t know what the dark shape was, because my eyes were closed and my inner space was very dimly lit.

Christ’s name was spelled out in golden light, and curved like a rainbow. The letters partially encircled the dark object, though they did not touch it. The effect was rather like a halo. Unfortunately I can’t represent their curved shape in my picture above.

Instantly, I thought how fantastic it would be to see Jesus’ name like this wherever I look, always reminding me of his constant presence in everyone and everything.

Then today’s prayer burst out so fast that I could barely keep pace with the words as I hurried to note them down:

God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9; NIV). 

Everywhere I look today:
May I see your name shine out,
Lord Jesus.

Everyone I meet today:
May I see your face in theirs,
Lord Jesus.

Every thought I have today:
May it be like one of yours,
Lord Jesus.

Every word I speak today:
May it be as if your own,
Lord Jesus.

Everything I do today:
May I do it all for you,
Lord Jesus.

The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me’ (Matthew 25:49; NIV).


References 

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it (John 1:5; NLT).

Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life” (John 8:12; NLT).

I will see you face to face and be satisfied (Psalm 17:15; NLT).

We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; NLT).

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

Whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17; NLT). 

Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31; NLT). 

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people (James 2:12; NLT).


Reading: Philippians 2:5-11; NIV.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.


The Rosary Hospital

A very welcome influx of fresh materials today included a strong magnetic clasp, so I was able to enjoy experimenting with a shorter prayer circlet that opens and closes, to be worn around the neck. I had to make it twice, as the first time I used larger beads than usual, which made the cross hang too low on my chest. NB: I particularly like the cross on these circlets to rest as close as possible to my heart.

Whilst trying out different approaches to this task, I stumbled on the possibility of making rosaries in a completely new way. I was too tired to take this idea any further at the time, but hope to try creating a rosary with the new approach tomorrow.

Meanwhile, here is the second prayer-circlet I made yesterday, which I am already wearing. It’s very easy to put on and take off, as it doesn’t need to be pulled over the head:

27.1.23: All yours

On Wednesday, whilst getting dry after a shower, I surprised myself by saying aloud, “Thank you for my towel, Lord.” But then I saw in a flash that even the towel I was using was not actually mine. It was provided by God for me to use on earth, but I won’t be able to take it with me when I die, so it’s really just on loan for a while. This is also true of everything I think I possess, for nothing is actually mine. Then today’s blog began to arrive:

Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help (Isaiah 58:7; NLT). 

May I share what you send, Lord,
And give what you loan,
Since I can claim nothing at all
As my own.

For all things are yours, Lord,
And nothing is mine –
I’ll take nothing with me:
In death, all is Thine.

Everything we have has come from you (1 Chronicles 29:14; NLT).


References 

He is ever merciful, and lends (Psalm 37:26; NKJV). 

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return there. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. May the name of the LORD be blessed! (Job 1:21; NET).


Reading: Luke 12:16-20; NLT.

A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 

Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. And I’ll sit back and say to myself, ‘My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!’

But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’

26.1.23: A blessing in disguise

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world (John 16:33; NLT). 

Yesterday morning I learned something that was completely new to me. I had begun a migraine the evening before, so I knew I needed to have a day of complete rest to help it pass. This rest-day happened to coincide with the day a friend’s husband was due to have major surgery.

Suddenly I saw the migraine as a blessing in disguise, because it created the time, space and opportunity I needed to pray for them both throughout the day. Immediately after this, I grasped that many other illnesses and adverse circumstances could also be used in the same way.

It may be that seeing our own sickness as an opportunity for intercession is linked to our willingness to embrace suffering, and to thank God for it. There is much I don’t yet understand about this subject, but I hope to learn more.

For now, I glimpse that this approach to illness could become a helpful, meaningful way of sharing Christ’s suffering, and of serving others. Perhaps it could even be described as a “vocation”.

Together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT). 

So, as a prisoner in the Lord, I beg you to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation to which you have been called: with all humility and meekness, with patience, supporting one another in charity (Ephesians 4:1-2; CPDV).


References

God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them (Romans 8:28; NLT).

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10; NKJV). 

Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies (2 Corinthians 4:10; NLT).

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered, and he personally rescued them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them. He lifted them up and carried them through all the years (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

25.1.23: Life is a journey

This little prayer arrived a while ago, in an instant. I’m really grateful for it, because I have a migraine.

You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You (Confessions, St. Augustine). 

Life is journey
To you,
With you,
In you,
And for you,
Living God.

We are the temple of the living God. As God said: “I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (2 Corinthians 6:16; NLT).


References 

To: The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV). 

With: When you go through deep waters, I will be with you (Isaiah 43:2; NLT). 

In: God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT). 

For: If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV). 

24.1.23: Speak, Lord

A few days ago, as I was waking up, I heard a voice calling my name twice (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-deF). Sleepy and confused, I thought it must be my husband, so I went downstairs to check, but it wasn’t him.

Then, to my dismay, I realised that I should have answered, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9; NIV). I prayed about this immediately, and said I was sorry, but still felt very sad that I had failed to respond at the right time.

However, yesterday the voice called my name again, just once, as I was waking, and this time I was ready to answer with the words Eli gave to Samuel in similar circumstances, so long ago. 

As soon as I replied, today’s prayer came to me. It was difficult to write, because I had no idea what God might be going to say. So now I must, “Wait patiently for him to act” (Psalm 37:7; NLT). 

I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness – secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name (Isaiah 45:3; NLT).

Was it you who called my name, Lord?
Was it you who hailed me?

Last time, Lord, I didn’t answer –
Dazed, confused, I failed Thee.

This time, Lord, I said the words
That Eli gave to Samuel:

“Speak, Lord, for your servant listens” –
Yahweh, may I listen well. 

Listen to God’s voice (Deuteronomy 26:17; TIB).


Reading: 1 Samuel 3:1-10; NIV.

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.

The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was.

Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”

And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.

So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday I received an exciting parcel by post – a collection of broken rosaries. I very much enjoyed taking them apart, and adding all the usable components to my trays of rosary-making materials. My huge thanks to P.M., their donor. Here are a few beautiful pieces, some of which I suspect are quite old:

Hot news: When I was praying this morning, I realised that when it’s time to pause, I don’t need to count all the beads I’ve prayed with so far that day. All I need to do is to note which “decade” I’m on (actually there are nine beads between each cross, but I don’t know the word for a “decade” of nine. Does anyone know this?) Then I just count which bead I’ve reached in that “decade.” For example, if I had just reached the third bead of the second decade, I would remember 2/3. I hope this makes sense! It’s such a simple and obvious way forward, but it’s still a significant breakthrough for me!

23.1.23: It’s easy

Yesterday was a day without appointments of any kind – a blessed day of complete rest. No fresh inspiration arrived, so I was very happy to dip into my treasure-chest, bringing out a poem written a short while ago:

Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me” (John 20:29; NLT). 

It’s easy to have feelings, Lord,
But harder to have faith.

It’s easy to complain, Lord,
But far harder to say, “Yes”.

It’s easy to hate strangers, Lord,
But harder to love all.

It’s easy to condemn, Lord,
But instead, help me to bless.

Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you (Mark 5:44; NKJV).


References 

Job stood up, tore his robe, and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD. Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything (Job 1:20-22; CSB). 

I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT). 

Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven (Luke 6:37; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital

I’ve now made an experimental prayer circlet with a holding-cross half-way round. It’s a delight to wear, as the cross rests so close to my heart.

22.1.23: Help me to pray

Last Friday I was praying sleepily with my circlet, saying my favourite set morning prayers. As soon as I reached the first cross-bead, and asked the Holy Spirit to help me to pray, today’s couplets shot into my mind. All I had to do was to write them down.

The Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words (Romans 8:26; RSV). 

Holy Spirit,
Help me to pray.

Help me with every word
I say.

Help me with all I think,
And do:

Help me to live
In you.

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25; KJV). 

God has given us his Spirit as proof that we live in him and he in us (1 John 4:13; NLT).


Stop Press:

Whilst I was waiting for the kettle to boil, an idea burst into my mind: I can put small sticky notes in places where I do specific tasks, during which it’s easy (and safe), to pray. Here are a few examples: next to the kettle, on the shower-screen, by the sink, at the foot of the stairs, on the frame of a favourite icon, on a work-top, and so on. Each note will show the name of one person or cause I want to pray for. 

As I begin each task I will see the note, and be reminded to pray for that person whilst doing that specific job. The person to be prayed for will quickly come to be associated with the task, so praying for them will become doubly easy to remember.

Sticky notes are simple to put up, remove and change. Hopefully this will help to stop my intercessions seeming like an insurmountable list to be waded through all at once. Instead, they will be spread out over the course of the day.


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday someone asked for a prayer-circlet for a member of their family. I offered to include a cross in it, which worked out well. Now I’m planning to make a similar one for myself.

21.1.23: Understanding ourselves

Last Thursday, whilst praying for those who wage war on other people, I saw that whenever we harm or hurt someone else in any way, our behaviour reveals that we are unconsciously at war with some aspect of ourselves. Then today’s prayer started to flow:

We don’t understand (John 16:18; NLT). 

Lord, please help us to understand ourselves, because:

When we judge others,
We are are unconsciously judging ourselves.

When we don’t forgive others,
We are unconsciously unable to forgive ourselves.

When we hate others,
We unconsciously hate ourselves,

And when we wage war on others,
We are unconsciously at war with ourselves.

Lord, please help us to choose your perfect way, because:

When we learn to accept ourselves,
We will spontaneously accept others.

When we learn to care for ourselves,
We will spontaneously care for others.

When we learn to forgive ourselves,
We will spontaneously forgive others,

And when we learn to love ourselves,
We will spontaneously love others.

Love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).


References 

God’s way is perfect (2 Samuel 22:31; NLT). 

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2; NLT). 

Follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 14:1; NIV).

“You know the way to where I am going.”  “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:4-6; NLT). 

He will be gracious if you ask for help. He will surely respond to the sound of your cries. Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you. You will see your teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear him. Right behind you a voice will say, “This is the way you should go,” whether to the right or to the left (Isaiah 30:19-21; NLT).


The Rosary Hospital 

Yesterday I enjoyed fulfilling a request for a smooth, comfortable Fiat Rosary. It is destined to be worn around the neck, always ready for use, and always ready to bring comfort: