12.11.22: A dream (for E.M.)

Context: Today’s blog describes what happened after I posted, “Thank you, Jesus” yesterday (https://wp.me/p45bCr-cP2).

Just before settling down to sleep that night I attached my night-cross to my wrist, as always. Then I asked God to be with me in my dreams (see https://wp.me/p45bCr-cHj). I started doing this recently because of a spate of nightmares, probably due to a new medication I was taking. Finally, I switched off the light and went to sleep.

A dream

I dreamed I was in a small, wooden boat, being rowed down a flooded street. Initially, the water was calm.

Then water began to pulse into the street, each wave higher and rougher than the one before, until the water became a rolling, boiling chaos. 

Again and again, tons of water towered above me as the boat was tossed around. Soon waves began to break over me, swamping the boat. I was terrified, and started to scream repeatedly.

A dream within a dream

Then, within the dream, I slowly woke, still screaming, gasping for air. I was in bed in my old, ugly, uncomfortable room at my mother’s house. I was young, but not a child – perhaps a late teenager, or in my early twenties. There was nowhere I would less rather be.

Slowly, slowly, my screams diminished, and I stopped gasping for breath. Eventually my mother appeared in her dressing-gown. I had clearly woken her up, which was never a good thing. I remember feeling that she was very the last person I wanted to see, as she had nothing but scorn for those who were afraid, including me. She was incapable of offering me any comfort, understanding, or sympathy. Indeed, I feared her more than anyone else I had ever known. Finding myself in her house, undressed and in bed, with her in my room, was worse than being in the boat. I felt so vulnerable.

Waking up

Then I began to wake, gradually realising it had all been a dream. However, I couldn’t stop re-living the terrifying sight of the waves towering above me, or the sensation of them falling on to me, filling the boat. It was just like having flashbacks from my childhood, which happened to me so often, and for so many years, that I had no idea they weren’t normal.

Slowly, slowly, I surfaced more fully, until I reached a point where I was able to whisper, “Thank you, Jesus”, whilst holding my night-cross firmly in my hand, where it had remained all night.

Instantly, I stopped re-living the terrifying sights and sensations of my dream. My inner storm had been stilled by those three, precious words. 

Then I reached for my iPad to write this blog, feeling awed by what had happened. I was no longer disturbed or afraid, though my body felt as if it were vibrating for a while afterwards. The whole experience left me with a lot to reflect on.

I am with you always, to the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20; NIV).


References 

You hurled me into the depths, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me (Jonah 2:3; NIV). 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NIV). 

He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed (Psalm 107:29; NIV). 

He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him (Luke 17:16; NIV). 

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


Reading: Mark 4:35-41; RSV

When evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.

And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?”

And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” 

And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”

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:

Wherever I go

Context: After yesterday’s very concentrated writing effort, today I’m posting a much shorter blog I prepared a little while ago. At present, my energy for writing is in very short supply. However, since I started this website in 2013, I have always had some unpublished pieces set aside, ready to use during the periods when I can’t write. Here is one I’m glad to have the opportunity to share with you:

Be sure of this: I am with you always.
(Matthew 28:20; NLT).

Wherever I go, we go there together.
However I feel, we share it, as one.
Whenever I fail, we mourn it together,
For you never leave me,
My Saviour, God’s Son.

Whatever I lose, we face it together.
Wherever I am, you’re close by my side.
Whatever I bear, we bear it together,
For you never leave me,
Good Shepherd, my Guide.

Whatever you ask, we face it together.
Whatever you take, *I give with a smile.
Whenever I fear, I turn to you swiftly,
For you never leave me
Throughout every trial.

*Give whatever he takes, with a big smile.
(Mother Theresa).

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).

More like Jesus

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him (Colossians 3:10; NLT). 

1. The more like Jesus we become,
The less we need to say
In prayer,
For, as our minds grow more like his,
We share our thoughts all day.

2. The more like Jesus we become,
The less we need to fear,
Or grieve,
For, as our hearts grow more like his,
We share each dread and tear.

3. The more like Jesus we become,
The less we need to ask
Of him,
For, as our souls grow more like his,
We share his sacred task.

4. The more like Jesus we become,
The less we need to cling
To life,
For here, on earth, and after death,
We’re wholly one with him.

This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ (Ephesians 4:13; NLT).

You …are complete through your union with Christ
(Colossians 2:10; NLT).


References 

1. We are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him (1 John 3:2; NLT). 

When you pray, don’t babble on …for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him (Matthew 6:7-8; NLT).

Be silent before the Sovereign Lord (Zephaniah 1:7; NIV).

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

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely (Psalm 139:4; NIV).

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

2. Do not be afraid, for I am with you (Genesis 26:24; 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). 

He knows the secrets of every heart (Psalm 44:21; NLT).

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT).

3. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:9; NLT).

I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me – the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace (Acts 20:24; NIV). 

All of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him (2 Corinthians 5:18; NLT). 

My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life (John 10:10; NLT).

4. Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV).

If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it (Matthew 10:39; NLT). 

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

I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me (John 17:23; NLT). 

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

Close

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).

1. You are as close to me as breathing.
You are as close to me as dread.
You are as close, Lord, as my heartbeat –
Closer than words unsaid.

2. You are as close to me as weeping.
You are as close to me as pain.
You are as close to me as anguish –
Closer than guilt, or shame.

3. You are as close to me as living.
You are as close to me as prayer.
You are as close to me as panic –
Closer than my despair.

4. You are as close to me as grieving.
You are as close to me as kin.
You are as close to me as dying –
Closer, by far, than sin.

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


References 

1.  The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life (Job 33:4; NLT).

2. Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me (Psalm 139:1; NLT).

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

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Mark 15:34; NLT).

4. To all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:11; NLT). 

Into your hands I commit my spirit (Psalm 31:5; NIV).

I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-9; NLT). 

Take away my mind

Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away
(John 15:2; NKJV).

Father,
Take away my mind:
You know my thoughts; they’re so unkind.

Take away my withered heart:
You know it’s cold and dark.

Father,
Take away my flesh:
You know my pains and weaknesses.

Take away my troubled life:
You know my inner strife.

Father,
Take away my soul:
Please make it yours, then I’ll be whole.

May there be less and less of me –
Until you set me free.

He must become greater and greater,
and I must become less and less (John 3:30; NLT). 

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

The Father shares our tears

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.
(Revelation 21:4; NLT).

Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens.
(Psalm 68:19; NIV). 

Beyond our death, all grief will end;
Till then, the Father shares our tears.

After death, all dread will cease;
Till then, he helps us face our fears.

Beyond our death, all pain will end;
Till then, the Saviour shares our cross.

After death, all cares will cease;
Till then, he helps us bear each loss.

Beyond our death, all hate will end;
Till then, the Spirit is our guide.

After death, all hurt will cease;
Till then, he’s always at our side.

Beyond our death, all wrong will end;
Till then, the Lord forgives our sin.

After death, all shame will cease;
Till then, we put our trust in him.

🖤

We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them.
(1 John 4:16; NLT). 

 


Avoidance (for R.B.)

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

1. The more I avoid
The things I fear,
The worse my fears will grow:

Please help me, Lord,
To face my fears
As you did, long ago.

2. The more I confront
Whatever I fear,
The stronger I’ll become:

Please help me, Lord,
To face my fears
Each day, till life is done.

3. The sooner I begin
This task,
The faster I’ll be healed:

Please help me, Lord,
To face my fears,
Be brave, and never yield.

4. The more I make these truths
My guide,
The better I’ll succeed:

Please help me, Lord, 
To face my fears –
Then I’ll be free indeed.

🖤

I have come that they may have life,
and have it to the full.
(John 10:10; NIV).

 


References 

1. My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done (Matthew 26:42; NIV).

2. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10; NLT).

3. The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:NLT). 

4. I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength (Philippians 4:13; NLT).

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed (John 8:36; NIV).

You will indeed go out with joy and be peacefully guided; the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands (Isaiah 55:12; CSB). 


It’s dreadful

It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
(Hebrews 10:31; NIV).

It’s dreadful, Lord,
To fall into your hands,
Although there’s nowhere else
I’d rather be.

It’s terrible
To gaze upon your face,
But there is no one else
I’d rather see.

It’s harrowing
To touch your hands and feet,
And yet there’s nothing else
I’d rather do.

It’s ecstasy
To share your warm embrace –
Because there is no other god
But You.

🖤

There is no other god but me!
(Deuteronomy 32:39; NLT).

 


In birth (for C.)

The eternal God is our hiding place; he carries us in his arms.
(Deuteronomy 33:27; CEV).

In birth,
We have no sense of loss:
You keep us in your warm embrace.
Lord, we are always dear to you,
Safe in your mercy, love and grace.

In life,
Whatever we confront,
You carry us, and share each tear.
Lord, we are always close to you,
Even in sorrow, pain and fear.

In death,
We have no cause for dread:
You hold us, as we quit this flesh.
Lord, we are always part of you,
Despite our sickness and distress.

In bliss,
Our souls will see your face;
Your hands make whole; your presence calms.
Lord, we are always one with you,
Safe in your everlasting arms.

💙

The eternal God is your refuge, and his everlasting arms are under you.
(Deuteronomy 33:27; NLT).