21.11.22: Lifeline prayers

Context: Despite coughing and sweating my way through the night with covid, when I woke next day and began to pray, I received some insistent words almost immediately. The four brief, lifeline prayers included in this blog seem to be virtually all I need now, given my new highly isolated and simplified lifestyle:

“Why so dispirited?” I ask myself. “Why so churned up inside? Hope in God!” I know I’ll praise God once again, for you are my Deliverance; you are my God (Psalm 43:5; TIB).

When I feel alone and blue,
With dismal thoughts I can’t subdue,
This is what I say:
I love you, Jesus. 

When I feel ashamed and sad,
Full knowing I’ve done something bad,
This is what I pray:
Forgive me, Jesus.  

When I feel ignored and hurt,
Self-pity turned to high alert,
This is what I sigh:
Forgive them, Jesus. 

When you give, and when you take,
No matter how my heart may break,
This is what I whisper:
Thank you, Jesus. 

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).


References 

I love you, LORD, my strength (Psalm 18:1; CSB). 

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 (Job 1:21; CSB).


Rosary news

Yesterday afternoon I made a blue and white rosary, but the final stage (the attachment of the crucifix), failed QC. However, one of the best things about learning to make rosaries is the joy of taking them apart so I can re-use the beads for my next attempt.

19.11.22: God is near

Context: The night before last, my seventh with covid, I managed for the first time to cope without taking any cough-suppressant. As soon as I woke in the morning, I began to pray, but within seconds I was overwhelmed by today’s blog:

He is not far from any one of us. ‘For in him we live and move and have our being’ (Acts 17:27-8; NIV). 

God is not far away,
But very near:
In everyone we meet,
And see, and hear;

In every joy and sorrow,
Smile, and tear;
In pain and anguish,
Suffering, and fear.

God is not far away,
But deep within:
In every mind, and heart,
And soul, and skin;

Despite our hatred,
Selfishness and sin –
God is not far away,
And God is King. 

God is the King over all the earth (Psalm 47:7; NLT).


References 

There is one Savior, one faith, one baptism, one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).

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

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else (1 Thessalonians 3:12; NIV). 

Love your neighbour as yourself (Leviticus 19:18; NLT).

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

Show love to foreigners (Deuteronomy 10:19; NLT).

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


Rosary news:

Despite covid, I made a (hopefully) more accurate Fiat Rosary today, with the colours in the right order. Here is is:


…and here it is again, lying on my shrine overnight, soaking up God’s blessings:

11.11.22: Thank you, Jesus (with thanks to E.S.)

Context: Early yesterday morning, during silent contemplation, some words started to thrust themselves upon me. I tried ignoring them, hoping they would drift away. However, they became more and more insistent, until eventually I had to write them down.

Their source was a story told during a zoom session I had attended a few days earlier. The meeting was part of a two-year process of spiritual formation and discernment which I recently joined. The speaker described her dear friend’s practice of responding immediately to events she saw as negative by saying, “Thank you, Jesus.”

This approach to life’s many trials and sorrows certainly beats other reactions, such as impatience, anger, swearing, stress, blaming others and self-pity. Accordingly, I have now started using this practice myself.

Give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NIV).

So, as soon as anything happens which I feel to be “negative”, I respond to it immediately by saying, “Thank you, Jesus”. With practice, this approach rapidly starts to become habitual. It’s remarkable how quickly it defuses my negative reactions, turning my mind straight back to God, and getting events into perspective.

An example

A good example of this happened yesterday when I wanted to print a single copy of a prayer from my iPad. The printer is in another room, so I couldn’t see what was happening. After a short time I became aware of a characteristic sound: paper crashing to the floor every few seconds. I hurried to the printer, which was churning out page after page.

My old reaction of instantaneous irritation rose up for a split-second, but then I remembered my new practice, said, “Thank you, Jesus”, spontaneously beginning to laugh as I picked up the paper. All the sting of the event had been removed by those three little words. Then I cut the pages in half and stapled them together to make a little notebook, bringing good from bad.

Opportunities for practicing

Here are a few general examples of opportunities to introduce this practice, but I’m sure you can quickly think of  many more:

Trivial irritations and frustrations
Minor misunderstandings and disappointments
Spilling, dropping, or breaking something
Making a mistake, getting something wrong
Accidents and falls
Events not working out as I had hoped
Someone hurts me
Failing at something
Delays, postponements and cancellations
Sickness, pain and disability
Undergoing medical treatment
Receiving bad news
Losing the capacity to do something I used to manage, or enjoy
Losing someone I love, or someone I rely on
Feeling depressed, anxious, afraid, or panic-stricken

Three precious words

To these, and more, as they occur, I will now respond as quickly as possible with those three, precious, deceptively simple words: “Thank you, Jesus”. What a difference they make! Why not try it for yourself?

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! (Romans 7:25; CSB).


References 

The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD (Job 1:21; CSB). 

I will sacrifice a thank offering to you and call on the name of the LORD (Psalm 116:17; NIV). 

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

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows (John 16:33; NLT).

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).

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

Patient endurance is what you need now (Hebrews 10:36; NLT).

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).

The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).


Rosary news:

I’ve run out of cord, but more is on order, so will hopefully arrive soon. Meanwhile, today I put all my kit into an organiser box, rather than having it loosely mixed up together in a tray:

7.11.22: God in all

Context: Last Saturday was a rare, blessed, unpressured day with no hospital appointments, and no building work taking place at home. I had breakfast in bed, followed by the luxury of a whole morning to write this prayer, which arrived soon after I woke up:

Just as you cannot understand the path of the wind or the mystery of a tiny baby growing in its mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the activity of God, who does all things (Ecclesiastes 11:5; NLT).

God: in stillness, silence, darkness;
Here, in yearning –
Our unknown.

God: in worship, wonder, rapture;
Here, in bliss –
Our stepping stone.

God: in nature, labour, service;
Here, in love –
Our source, our home.

God: in weakness, envy, anger;
Here, in sin –
Our cornerstone.

God: in conflict, terror, trauma;
Here, in carnage –
Our shalom.

God: in sickness, sorrow, anguish;
Here, in pain –
Our flesh, our bone.

God: in striving, yielding, dying;
Here, in all
Our Lord, alone.

The LORD is our God, the LORD alone (Deuteronomy 6:4; NLT).


References

Stand in silence in the presence of the Sovereign LORD (Zephaniah 1:7; NLT).

God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).

By the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat until you return to the ground from which you were made (Genesis 3:19; NLT).

The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone (Psalm 118:22; NLT).

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

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NLT).

Yield yourselves to God (Romans 6:13; RSV).

Now yield and submit yourself to Him [agree with God and be conformed to His will] and be at peace (Job 22:21; AMP).

Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit (Matthew 27:50; NKJV).

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

There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).


Rosary-making news:

I’m longing for the arrival of some 1mm cord from the UK. This should hopefully thread through the wooden beads I’ve already bought. At present, I only have 1.5mm cord, which is too thick to go through them. Until the thinner cord arrives, I’m limited to making necklaces and bracelets, practicing barrel knots and threading a few beads by chewing the thread. Still, today I made my first ever equal-length sliding knots.

26.10.22: Inner peace

Context: I prepared this blog yesterday at London City Airport, whilst waiting for my flight home, and with a migraine. These hospital trips are well beyond my physical and mental coping ability now, so I’m deeply hoping I won’t have to go again. On the plus side, I’ve met with nothing but friendliness and kindness, and seen how amazingly different people’s lives are in London, compared to my quiet island life.

Anyway, I dipped into my storehouse for this short poem, which arrived a few days ago:

I am leaving you with a gift – peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid (John 14:27; NLT). 

Peace in sickness,
And in pain.

Peace in sorrow,
And in loss.

Peace in anguish,
And in fear.

Peace in dying:
You are here.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).


References

He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm (Mark 4:39; KJV). 

Be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NLT). 

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

21.10.22: Gifts

Context: Yesterday morning I prayed with words, then without, until I suddenly saw this little poem:

God has blocked my way so I cannot move. He has plunged my path into darkness (Job 19:8; NLT). 

You have taken away my companions and loved ones. Darkness is my closest friend (Psalm 88:18; NLT). 

I give you my darkness,
My weakness and sin –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Failure, within.

I give you my loneliness,
Sickness and fears –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Mourning and tears.

I give you my sorrow,
My anguish and shame –
That’s all I can offer, Lord:
Longing and pain.  

I give you my suffering,
Body and blood,
My mind, heart and soul, Lord:
I give you my love. 

I will give you my love (Song of Songs, 7:12; NLT). 

10.10.22: Safe

Context: The day before yesterday, whilst praying, I was given a group of phrases to reflect on. There were too many to list them all here, so I’ve chosen just those which turned out to be most relevant to today:

The garden of God
The river of God
The glory of God
The presence of God
The mercy of God
The power of God
The darkness of God
The Spirit of God

I had no idea how to use this list in a blog, so thought no more about it after writing it down.

Next morning I looked at the list again, but was still no wiser about its purpose.

However, when I was praying, I saw that there is no need to worry when inspiration doesn’t arrive. Instead, I can trust God to give me the raw materials for each day’s blog when the time is right.

Then, two or three hours later, to my great surprise, I was given the following poem:

YHWH took the earth creature and settled it in the garden of Eden so that it might cultivate and care for the land (Genesis 2:15; TIB). 

I’m walking in Eden,
Beside a great river,
Safe in your glorious presence,
Lord God.

I’m walking in exile,
With sorrow and anguish,
Safe, through your mercy and power,
Lord God.

I’m walking death’s valley,
With faith and acceptance,
Safe by your side, in the darkness,
Lord God.

I’m walking in heaven, 
At one with your Spirit,
Safe now, forever,
My Lord and my God. 

“My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT). 

5.10.22: My sun

Context: My apologies for accidentally posting an “extra” blog yesterday whilst working on it. This is a mistake it’s impossible to undo after it’s happened. It took me a while to recover my equilibrium and confidence afterwards, so I could continue writing and editing.

As I lay in bed, praying without words, I saw again that Yahweh is in everything. However, this time I saw a little further, grasping with joy and relief that God is even present in my darkness:

The LORD God is our sun and our shield (Psalm 84:11; NLT).

My sun, my cloud, my darkness;
My way, my staff, my rod;
My joy, my tears, my sickness;
My guide, my truth: my God.

My prayers, my sighs, my anguish;
My way, my staff, my rod;
My mind, my heart, my spirit;
My life, my love: my God.

My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT). 

There is …one God and Creator of all, who is over all, who works through all and is within all (Ephesians 4:5-6; TIB).


References

Clouds and thick darkness surround him (Psalm 97:2; NIV).

Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:21; NLT).

Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light (Micah 7:8; NLT).

I will give you the treasures of darkness and riches from secret places so that you may know that I am the Lord (Isaiah 45:3; CSB).

Christ is all, and is in all (Colossians 3:11; NIV). 

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

3.10.22: I weep

Context: I’m so drained that I’m finding prayer very difficult. Depression is creeping closer, threatening to overwhelm me. Two days ago I sat on the floor with my back resting against the wall, attempting to pray. After a time of silence, this little poem arrived:

I weep with sorrow (Psalm 119:28; NLT). 

1. I weep with pain and sorrow, Lord,
With loneliness, and grief.

2. Weariness destroys my freedom,
Sickness is a thief.

3. Anguish closes over me,
It suffocates, like sin,

4. Yet still your love beats in my blood,
For you, Lord, live within.

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


References 

1.He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:37-9; NLT). 

2.Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go (John 21:18; NIV). 

3.Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls; all your waves and breakers have swept over me (Psalm 42:7; NIV).

4.You are the temple of the living God (Luke 17:21; NKJV).

Don’t you realise that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16; NLT).

Shadow-self

Context: Earlier this week I unexpectedly got in touch with some deeply-buried aspects of my shadow-self, which was absolutely shattering (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-bWz). Lots of tears, prayers and much painful honesty followed. In the end, of course, it proved to be a very healing experience. 

What is the shadow-self? 

Robert Johnson describes the shadow-self as the “…dumping-ground for all those characteristics of our personality that we disown.” 

He goes on to remark that “These disowned parts are extremely valuable and cannot be disregarded.” This is because “To honor and accept one’s own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy, and the most important experience of a lifetime” (see pp ix-x, “Owning your own shadow – understanding the dark side of the psyche”, Robert A. Johnson; HarperCollins 1993).

The same author later comments that “To own one’s own shadow is to reach a holy place  – an inner centre – not attainable in any other way. To fail this is to fail one’s own sainthood and to miss the purpose of life” (Ibid, p17).

The Bible shows that Jesus, too, had a shadow-self. Some of his most significant experiences brought him face-to-face with his inner temptations, anger, anguish, fear, doubt and despair. Thus, as we strive to become more like him, we, too, need to face, own, accept and integrate our shadow selves, just as he did. 

Following the dramatic emergence of parts of my own buried shadow-self, this prayer surfaced whilst I was saying grace before breakfast:

Trust in God always, my people;
pour out your hearts before God our refuge.

(Psalm 62:8; TIB). 

1. I face my shadow-self with God,
Like Jesus, in the wilderness,

2. And show my shadow-self to God,
Like Jesus, in the Temple.

3. I share my shadow-self with God,
Like Jesus, in Gethsemane,

4. And give my shadow-self to God,
Like Jesus, on the cross.

Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
(Mark 15:34; NLT).


Jesus called out with a loud voice,
“Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”
When he had said this, he breathed his last.
(Luke 23:46; NLT).


References 

1. Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry. During that time the devil came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:1-3; NLT). 

Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect you. And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone’ ” (Matthew 4:5-6; NLT). 

Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me” (Matthew 4:8-9; NLT). 

2. Jesus went to Jerusalem. In the Temple area he saw merchants selling cattle, sheep, and doves for sacrifices; he also saw dealers at tables exchanging foreign money. Jesus made a whip from some ropes and chased them all out of the Temple. He drove out the sheep and cattle, scattered the money changers’ coins over the floor, and turned over their tables. Then, going over to the people who sold doves, he told them, “Get these things out of here. Stop turning my Father’s house into a marketplace!” (John 2:13-16; NLT).

3. He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:37-39; NLT).